We have another three-game NBA slate on tap for Friday. The Nets and Mavericks will be looking to take commanding 3-0 series leads, while the Knicks and Hawks will square off in a vital contest. Teams that win Game 3 of a tied series go on to win the series at nearly a 75% clip, so the winner of tonight’s matchup will have a huge leg up.
Let’s dive into some of my favorite wagers for this slate on DraftKings Sportsbook.
New York Knicks at Atlanta Hawks (-4.5):
I went down with the Hawks in Game 2, but I’m going right back to the well in Game 3. Quite simply, I think they’re the better team in this series.
The Knicks have fought hard all season, and they’ve been one of the biggest surprises of the season. That said, head coach Tom Thibodeau pushed the team extremely hard to get here. Guys like Julius Randle and RJ Barrett were already routinely playing 40+ minutes per game during the regular season, which doesn’t give them a ton of room for growth in the playoffs.
On the other side, the Hawks are just starting to let their best players spread their wings (pun intended). Clint Capela has averaged five additional minutes per game during the postseason, while De’Andre Hunter is just getting back up to speed. He was one of their most important players early in the season, but he missed substantial time due to injuries. He played 32 minutes in Game 2, and he has the potential to be a difference-maker for this team moving forward. The Hawks have increased their Net Rating by 4.2 points per 100 possessions with Hunter on the court this season, albeit over a sample size of 670 minutes.
Brooklyn Nets (-8) at Boston Celtics:
I want to back the Celtics to make this series competitive, but I just don’t see how it happens. The Nets’ offense is too good, and the Celtics are at far less than full strength. Jaylen Brown is done for the season, and Kemba Walker is dealing with a left knee issue. Walker is going to play, but expect him to be at less than 100% efficiency.
With both players out of the lineup, the scoring onus will fall squarely on the shoulders of Jayson Tatum. Tatum is an incredible player, but asking him to keep up with Kevin Durant, James Harden, and Kyrie Irving is just too much to ask.
The only real concern I have is that this is a potential letdown spot for the Nets. That said, history suggests there isn’t a huge edge in fading teams with a 2-0 series lead. Road teams with a 2-0 series lead are historically 59-59-3 against the spread in Game 3, so there’s no reason to believe the Nets can’t cover three games in a row. The Bucks were in an identical situation last night and blew the doors off the Heat in Miami. We could be looking at a similar outcome.
Los Angeles Clippers (-2.5) at Dallas Mavericks:
Ivica Zubac Under 6.5 points (-107)
The Clippers are on the verge of another massively disappointing performance in the playoffs, and head coach Tyronn Lue needs to make some adjustments in Game 3. The easiest one is to stop playing Zubac.
Zubac has been an unmitigated disaster when on the floor during the first two games. He’s played 40.3 minutes, and the Clippers have been outscored by 29 points over that time frame. The fact that most of Zubac’s minutes come with the starters is particularly concerning.
The most logical answer would be to play Serge Ibaka more minutes, but he’s currently questionable with a back injury. Even if he’s able to suit up, it’s possible that he’s a non-factor in Game 3.
Still, the Clippers would be better off going with a hyper-small lineup than playing Zubac. Put Marcus Morris at center. Put Nic Batum at center. Heck, put Patrick Beverley at center. I’m praying that we see less Zubac in Game 3, and if that happens, it’s going to be very difficult for him to hit the over on his props.
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I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is mlamarca) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above. I am not an employee of DraftKings and do not have access to any non-public information.
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