The second round continues on Saturday. The action gets underway at 3:30 p.m. ET with the Milwaukee Bucks hosting the Boston Celtics. In the Western Conference, the Golden State Warriors face the Memphis Grizzlies at 8:30 p.m. ET. Let’s survey the slate and pick the best bets for Sunday.
Warriors -7 (-110)
It took 47 points and 13 trips to the foul line for the Grizzlies to win by five points at home in Game 2. Morant averaged seven free throw attempts per game this season. A ceiling game against the Warriors’ defense — the second-best defensive efficiency rating — was unlikely, and two in a row is improbable. Without another heroic performance by Morant and with Dillon Brooks suspended, this looks like a safe win for the Warriors at home.
It’s hard to trust the Warriors’ regular season stats and record. Their playoff lineup and rotation is a different team. It’s as good of a team as the one they rolled out from October through December, but with the addition of Klay Thompson. They’ve won all three of their playoff games at home. The first two home wins over the Nuggets, were by 16 and 20 points. Their third win was by the slim margin of four points, but they rallied from a 10-point deficit and then an 8-point deficit in the second half. These rallies and the eventual win were in a game where Klay Thompson struggled.
If the Warriors’ big three play their typical game, then this is no contest. In the typical Warriors game, one star steps up and the other two do their jobs. The rest of the lineup falls in line and makes sure to play solid defense. Game 3 might be the pivotal game of the series. The Warriors need this game. If they win, the series is likely theirs. If they lose, then they’re in a dog fight with some real dogs. The Warriors have to bring their A-game on Saturday.
Bucks -2 (-110)
In Game 2, Milwaukee was abysmal from 3-point range (16.7%) and Boston couldn’t miss (46.5%). That’s it. No further analysis is needed. This is a 3-point league. Teams live and die behind the 3-point line in the current era of the NBA. In Game 1, both teams shot closer to their season averages. The Bucks shot 35.3% and the Celtics shot 36%. The Bucks won that game because of the Celtics’ Achilles’ heel — Boston’s stars’ erratic shooting. Jaylen Brown was 4-for-13 from the field and he turned the ball over seven times on top of that. The Celtics will need all of their stars to play their best if Boston wants to win at Milwaukee.
Going back to last season’s championship run, the Bucks are 11-2 at home in the playoffs. This season they are 1-2 against the spread at home, but all three of those contests were double-digit spreads. In closely projected contests, the Bucks are 8-2 ATS.
The real factor, as laid out in the Game 1 Best Bets article, is Grayson Allen. Everyone is well aware of the impact of Giannis Antetokounmpo, Jayson Tatum and the rest of the stars on the court. However, it’s the role players that sway lines and cover spreads. When Allen scores double-digit points, the Bucks win. With Middleton out, the Bucks need a little bit more from somebody else. Allen gave a little bit more in Game 1, not a lot, but his 11 points were just enough. In Game 2, Allen barely shot the ball over the course of 28 minutes and ended the night with five points. Worse than him sitting the bench and contributing nothing, is being on the court and contributing nothing. This takes away an opportunity for someone else to be productive. Allen will be much more active in Game 3 and the Bucks will cover.
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