We’ve had three teams officially punch their ticket to the second round of the playoffs, and the Utah Jazz will look to join them today. They can officially close out their series with a win versus the Nuggets, and that game will take place at 6:30 p.m. ET.
The Clippers and Mavericks are the night cap on today’s slate, and they will play a crucial Game 5 at 9:30 p.m. ET. The winner of Game 5 in 2-2 series goes on to win at a roughly 85% clip, so the winner of today’s contest will get a huge leg up in the series.
Let’s break down both games from a betting perspective and identify some potential values.
Denver Nuggets vs. Utah Jazz
These two teams have been absolutely on fire offensively in this series. The Jazz have averaged a ridiculous 135.0 points per 100 possessions and the Nuggets haven’t been that far behind at 122.1. The Jazz also rank first in effective FG% during the postseason, while the Nuggets rank fourth in that department.
Are both teams going to continue to score at that rate moving forward? It seems unlikely, but shooting numbers are at an all-time high inside the bubble. The Nuggets have also been a disaster defensively, so it’s not like the Jazz are making a lot of contested shots. Most of their shots have been wide open and there’s no reason why NBA players can’t make wide open shots in an empty gym.
These two teams have combined for at least 229 points in three of their first four games, and the only exception was when the Nuggets struggled to just 87 points in Game 3. As long as they can get to around 105, I fully expect the Jazz to take us the rest of the way home.
Denver Nuggets vs. Utah Jazz
If Game 4 was any indication, this line is simply too low for Millsap. He’s coming off 35.4 minutes in that loss and, in that role, he produced 16 points. Millsap has averaged 17.2 points per 36 minutes this season, so that production doesn’t seem particularly fluky.
Millsap leads the Nuggets in Net Rating differential this season — the Nuggets have increased their Net Rating by +10.7 points per 100 possessions with Millsap on the court — so I’m expecting another large workload for him on today’s slate. He’s one of the few members of the Nuggets who can actually impact that game on both ends of the court, and Denver is desperate for anyone who can contribute defensively at the moment.
Dallas Mavericks vs. Los Angeles Clippers
Luka Doncic powered the Mavericks to a win in Game 4 of this series, but I still think the Clippers are the superior squad.
They have gotten virtually nothing from Paul George to start the playoffs. He’s shooting just 29.0% from the field and 22.2% from 3-point range, both of which are well below his career postseason averages. He seems due for some positive regression.
Additionally, the Clippers fit two trends in this contest. For starters, the Clippers are a top-two seed in their conference, and those teams have gone 24-15-2 in first-round Game 5’s since 2006.
The Clippers are also favored against a lower-seeded team after losing in their previous contest, and teams in that situation have historically posted a record of 136-94-7 against the spread. That’s good for a cover rate of nearly 60% over a pretty large sample size, and teams have posted a 5-3 record in that situation so far this season.
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