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

The NBA semifinals continue today with a pair of games featuring a tiebreak in both. Boston dropped two straight to Toronto and now head into a pivotal game 5. Meanwhile the Nuggets found a new strategy against the Clippers, as game 3 will break the series tie tonight.

Toronto Raptors vs Boston Celtics Predictions

This series shifted really fast after the Raptors stole victory away from the Celtics in game 3. Now, even at 2, Toronto seems to have all the momentum following two straight wins. Both plays are about the same narrative; Boston will press too much on offense for shots. Kemba Walker even said it, about being more aggressive as did Jaylen Brown. Both coming off terrible Game 4 performances. Boston was relegated to just 93 points despite a solid night out of Jason Tatum. Kyle Lowry was everywhere last game and should continue to push Boston. It’s all about the push for more points, and the Celtics will force shots out of pressure. They are already feeling it after two straight losses, so expecting this team to come out firing would be too large of an assumption for me to bet!

The Raptors are more than comfortable winning games in the low to mid 100’s. Boston isn’t going to increase the pace; they will try and improve their shot selection. This won’t feature a ton of turnovers, so they won’t be able to rely on transition as much. It’s a good play to fade the over simply because Toronto is controlling this series. Boston isn’t going to put up 70 in the first half after being suffocated for two straight games.

Pick: Raptors ML (+108)

Pick: UNDER 212.5 (-108)

Denver Nuggets vs Los Angeles Clippers Predictions

Denver did everything they could last game – including a red-hot start – to even up their series with LA. But heading into game 3 will be a different storyline, if anything a throwback to game 1. Whatever Denver did to completely stifle Kawhi Leonard isn’t going to happen again, at least not two straight games. I took the extra hook with a positive return because this has “beat down” written all over it. We saw a similar bounce back when the Clips got humiliated by Dallas in the first round. I think it’s a safe play here to expect a 10+ point victory, where starters for the Clippers are still playing late in the game. Denver will keep it close at times but it’s just too much firepower brought on by LA. Even Paul George should get in on the action as the comfort zone for Denver is about to get blown open. It’s basically a revenge game this early in the series. I love the Clips by a bunch.

Just because I like a blowout doesn’t mean Denver can’t win a quarter. It’s actually more of a norm here. Both Jamal Murray and Nikola Jokic were on fire for a lot of the first half last game. While the Clippers will put out that fire rather early, outscoring a team in the 4th that’s blowing you out isn’t a tall task. I love Denver sneaking around a 9 to 14-point deficit while their stars are still doing enough to win the final frame. It’s not a huge reach to expect some Clips players to be rotated out while Denver will throw everything at LA, even if down by 15.

Pick: Clippers -9.5 (+105)

Pick: Nuggets 4th Quarter winner (+123)


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