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Eytan Shander previews Saturday's NBA slate with expert picks on both the playoff games

We are fully invested in the second-round value today, with both Toronto and Denver coming in strong. The Clippers are trying to avoid another letdown. Meanwhile we await and see what type of Boston team we get.

Toronto Raptors vs Boston Celtics Predictions

The game should have a ton of excitement following a Raptors escape with .5 seconds on the clock. The Celtics suffered their first loss of the post-season despite playing pretty well throughout. That’s the theme I’m riding for today’s game, nothing really changes. That’s what happened with Toronto coming into game 3 and should continue after a victory. The team made little adjustments on offense, just got more productivity out of their guards. Kyle Lowry had a fantastic game, hitting more shots and setting a better pace. Boston isn’t going to change much either, as they were on the verge of winning another low-scoring affair. Buzzer-beater aside, Kemba Walker was fantastic leading a Celtics team that did a lot to win that game. The biggest thing that stays the same in this case is the tempo, Boston will be a little tighter, as will the Raptors knowing they still need one more win to square this up at 2-2.

I also like the Raptors to come out with a ton of energy to start the first. Expect them to have a nice mix of setting up outside shots and getting their guards to the basket. Boston might press a little with their early shooting, allowing for a nice and easy run for the Raptors at the start.

PICK: UNDER 217.5 (-143 DraftKings)

PICK: Race to 10 points TOR (-106 Bet MGM)

Denver Nuggets vs Los Angeles Clippers Predictions

Denver isn’t going to last long if they don’t come out with any real change after game 1. Blown out of the gym, Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic simply need more help. Murray was held in check and then some, struggling from all over the floor. That is one heck of a task to continue during a playoff series, even if the Nuggets lose the game. Don’t expect another small performance by Murray, which again is good enough to push any backdoor cover. It’s what killed the spread last time, but LA won’t be so fortunate in game 2. The Clippers sat Kawhi Leonard last game for the entire 4th quarter, and the team might already be in cruise mode. We saw the Nuggets take advantage of Utah sleeping after going up big, tonight is another chance for Denver to at least steal a half.

Murray will be the key difference early on, at least the difference in his play from last game. It’s going to take a little bit for the Clips to “wake up” from cruise control in their first game, so take advantage of that with some points on the Nuggets early on. Also, with the expectations of a better Murray, you can count on Denver to hang around later in the 4th quarter. A 15 to 17-point lead isn’t as safe to cover as it was last time. Clippers still win, but not after dropping the first half in a slow effort.  

PICK: 1st Half Spread DEN +4.5 (@ +100)

PICK: Denver +10 (-121 DraftKings)


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