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Eytan Shanders previews Sunday's NBA playoff games

Are the Milwaukee Bucks really going to get swept out of the playoffs? In the second round? Will Anthony Davis moving to center save the Lakers? A couple of questions that we didn’t think needed answering this postseason. A key injury could be the difference today in surviving the Heat versus avoiding embarrassment.

Milwaukee Bucks vs Miami Heat Predictions

Giannis is now listed as questionable for this game with an ankle injury. That alone should scare some people, but the line hasn’t moved much. There is a general belief that the Bucks are going to do everything they can to avoid the sweep, something that seemed incomprehensible even in the first round of the playoffs. Jimmy Butler and Goran Dragic have led this Heat team to an improbable 3-0 lead, and I don’t think this team is simply going to take their foot off the gas. Rather we see a last-ditch effort from the Bucks – I expect Giannis to be out there – to simply salvage the way in which they go home. The Heat aren’t going to lose this series, but I don’t trust them in this closeout game today. They will once again rely on taking as many 3’s as possible, but if the Bucks can stick with them early on, it will give Milwaukee a clear shot to take the lead later.

I’d expect the Bucks to come out firing right away, clearly sensing the end is near. Being able to get an early 1st quarter lead is huge for this team, especially knowing a Heat run (on 3’s) is definitely coming. Milwaukee has yet to withstand that, no matter how close the games were. That’s a big difference today, the Bucks get up early and are able to withstand a couple of Miami runs. I love the Bucks winning both the 1st quarter and the game!

PICK: Bucks ML (+110 888sport)

PICK: MIL Race to 20 Points (-106 BetMGM)

Houston Rockets at Los Angeles Lakers Predictions

You can certainly feel good about laying the 5.5 points for LA to cover tonight, coming off that brutal loss in game 1. As expected, the Rockets broke free from any first-round constraints, and welcomed a faster paced game. That won’t change a ton, but things will actually slow down a small amount as LA will push for more half court sets. The change comes in the form of Anthony Davis shifting primarily to the center position, making it increasingly difficult for the Rockets to defend the basket. Davis will be able to dominate with the basketball, and have his way defensively grabbing rebounds. Even if his scoring drops a little with the shift in position – shots from outside might dip – he will be a monster on the boards. There will be a lot of lanes opening up as well, especially for LeBron James, so look for Davis to add a couple more assists passing out of the post. Watch Davis have a huge game tonight pacing the Lakers against the Rockets and being the key cog in a wheel that ties up the series.

The shift for Davis, combined with Houston needing to have another near-perfect night from the floor all add up to a lower scoring game. I do think the Lakers are somewhere between a 108-112 finish, but the bigger concern is can Houston continue to knock down 3’s at will. I don’t think they have enough consistency yet to rely on another huge scoring affair. Tonight, you will see a little more regression back to the mean, making it tougher for the Rockets to hit 3’s throughout the game. One bad quarter – or even half – is enough to keep the Rockets at or below 100 points.

PICK: UNDER 222.5 (+100 BetMGM)

PICK: Points, Rebounds, & Assists Anthony Davis (over 45.5 -106 DraftKings)


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