Eight games, eight sets of playoff implications. We start with most loaded one.
Check out Jonathan Macri's NBA picks for Sunday, May 2 2021 below
The defending Eastern Conference champions vs the team trying to take their home court advantage for the play-in game.
Regardless of where these two teams would meet up for the seven vs eight matchup in a few weeks – and as things currently stand, they’re the ones slotted into those spots – the Heat will be favored to win, probably handily. Reputation means that much in the NBA.
In reality though, Charlotte has been the better team this season. Despite losing arguably their top two players to injury for almost all of April, the Hornets have continued to fight, scrap and claw to stay in the top eight. They managed to go .500 since the All-Star break despite a depleted roster, which is just a game back of Miami’s mark over the same time.
They also own the Heat this season, winning and covering both games. For the third matchup, Miami will be playing on the second night of a road back to back, whereas the Hornets get to be home on Saturday night. After this Heat game, Charlotte gets to play four straight against teams currently outside the top 10 in each conference, so their hopes of a seven-seed aren’t over yet.
They just have to win tonight.
The Pick: Hornets + 5 @ -109 (Click to bet)
Another battle of two teams very close in the standing, albeit one with more wide-reaching implications.
The top seed in the Eastern Conference – currently the Brooklyn Nets – won’t have an easy road to the conference finals by any stretch. Several interesting teams could wind up as the eighth seed, and the Celtics, Knicks and Hawks are all feisty in their own way.
But if the alternative is to be the second or third seed and play one of the other heavy hitters in the second round, the one-seed is far preferable.
That’s the spot that the Bucks are currently 3.5 games back of, which is a lot of ground to make up in less than two weeks, but this is also the first of two consecutive games Milwaukee will play against Brooklyn, and both will be at home. Win both, and the deficit gets cut to 1.5 games. The Nets also have tough road matchups upcoming against the Mavs and Nuggets, so a few more losses aren’t out of the question. When you add in the fact that the Bucks get to play an additional game to make up ground, it’s easy to see the importance this afternoon affair takes on.
It all comes down to Giannis. He’s questionable with a bum ankle he suffered early on in Milwaukee’s shocking Thursday loss to Houston, but sounds like he could give it a go. Take advantage of a line that factors in that uncertainty while you can.
The Pick: Bucks -1.5 @ -105 (Click to bet)
Other NBA Game Predictions - Sunday May 2
Portland Trail Blazers at Boston Celtics
Which Celtics team is going to show up: the one that went down by 32 points at home to the Spurs on Friday night, or the one that came back to steal the victory behind 60 points from Jayson Tatum? Worst case scenario, this game is close against a Portland team that is suddenly hot, winning three straight road affairs against the Pacers, Grizzlies and Nets. That’s enough reason to go with the Blazers.
New York Knicks at Houston Rockets
Houston’s offensive explosion against the Bucks was exactly what Tom Thibodeau needed to make sure his 4th place Knicks didn’t let their guard down for the first (and easiest) game of a six-game Western swing. The Rockets are also playing on the second night of a back to back here, while New York has been off since Wednesday. Take the road team.
Sacramento Kings at Dallas Mavericks
Another “which team shows up?”: The Kings squad that defeated the Mavs earlier this week and then vanquished the Lakers in LA on Friday night in LeBron’s return game, or the Sacramento team that lost by 50 points at home to the Jazz in between those wins? De’Aaron Fox is still in health and safety protocols and the Mavs are otherwise perfect in their last six games, so count on them to even the score convincingly here.
Phoenix Sun at Oklahoma City Thunder
Since March 24, the Suns have the fourth best net rating in the NBA at positive 5.6, while the Thunder are dead last by a mile in that same time, checking in at negative 16.8. Phoenix is making a push for the top seed in the conference and the likelihood of avoiding the Mavs or Blazers in round one. This will not be competitive.
Philadelphia 76ers at San Antonio Spurs
Two teams that still have something to play for, and the Sixers are getting hot at the right time, coming into this one after three straight blowout wins. The Spurs lost to Philly by 35 in the other game the two teams played this season. This won’t be much different.
Toronto Raptors at Los Angeles Lakers
Now that LeBron has shaken the rust off, he’ll have to finish the home stretch strong, what with LA in a tight battle with the Mavs for the sixth seed and not that far ahead of Portland for seven. The Raptors stopped trying to win games a long time ago, and they sport the fourth worst record against the spread in the NBA this season. Go with the defending champs.
NBA Expert Picks
Hornets + 5 @ -109 (Click to bet)
Bucks -1.5 @ -105 (Click to bet)
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