The NBA playoffs are back and Saturday brings us a three-game betting card, spaced out throughout the afternoon and evening. Here’s what stands out to me on DraftKings Sportsbook on Saturday.
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Milwaukee Bucks vs. Orlando Magic
Bucks -13.5 (-112)
Remember the panic when the Bucks lost Game 1 to the Magic? It seems like a distant memory of the past at this point. Since then, the Bucks won three games in a row to take a 3-1 series lead and look to knock the Magic out of the playoffs today.
Not only did the Bucks win the past three games of the series, but none of the games played out competitively. The Bucks’ three wins came by margins of 15, 14 and 15. Given the scores of these games, the spread for this contests looks a bit too light. Bucks -15 is more of a fair line in my opinion and the Magic are dealing with Aaron Gordon (hamstring) ruled out for the rest of the season. I like the Bucks to roll here and march onto the next round.
Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Houston Rockets
OKC +5 (-109)
Through two games, it looked like the Thunder couldn’t compete with the Rockets. Houston handily won the first couple of games of the series and took a commanding 2-0 series lead. Since that point, OKC flipped a switch. The Thunder won the past two games outright despite being priced as underdogs. Even with those wins, Oklahoma City finds itself as a bigger underdog than it was in the past two games.
The reason for the spread widening is pretty simple. Russell Westbrook is playing today after missing the first four games of the series. While Russ returning is a definite benefit, I am not sure he should sway the betting line by this much. We don’t know if he is totally healthy and rust could present an issue. Not to mention that the Rockets occasionally have chemistry issues with Harden and Westbrook on the court at the same time. Houston scores 2.4 more points per 100 possessions when Westbrook is off the court. This is a tough time of the season to alter the lineup in such a significant way. I still favor the Rockets to win but I think the Thunder can keep this game competitive enough that the spread is too wide.
Los Angeles Lakers vs. Portland Trail Blazers
LAL -13.5 (-112)
If you have followed along with my articles and Twitter feed during the playoffs, I bet the Lakers in every game so far this series. While they looked a bit hairy after a Game 1 loss, the stats indicated that Los Angeles handily outplayed Portland in the opening game of the series and lost because of failing to convert on open shots from the field. With luck normalizing, the Lakers easily won the next three games of the series by margins of 23, 8 and 20 points.
As if the results of the past three games weren’t bad enough for the Blazers, Damian Lillard is out today because of a knee injury. Without him, it’s hard to imagine the Blazers could keep this game close against the Lakers. Even with Dame, Portland was outmatched in this series and never stood a legitimate chance to win. A backdoor cover is always a bit of a worry when the spread is this large but I can’t bet on an already struggling team like the Blazers to play competitively without their best player.
Anthony Davis Points
UNDER 26.5 (-103)
If I am betting the Lakers to win by 14 or more points, it pretty much means I expect a blowout. In this sort of scenario, AD should be one of the first players off the court. This is what we saw last game when the Lakers lead by 20 or more points for most of the game. Davis ended up playing just 18 minutes and scored 18 points. If the Lakers win big, it stands to reason that the UNDER will hit for most of the Anthony Davis and LeBron James props. Los Angeles has championship aspirations and getting extra rest could play a big difference down the stretch of the playoffs.
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