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Thread: Cnotes 2017 NBA Best Bets-Trends-News Thru Playoffs !

  1. #1551  
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    Bogdanovic scores 30, Pacers rally past Cavs for 2-1 lead
    April 20, 2018



    INDIANAPOLIS (AP) Bojan Bogdanovic scored 30 points, leading the Indiana Pacers back from a 17-point halftime deficit for a 92-90 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday night for a 2-1 lead in their first-round series.


    Cleveland was 39-0 during the regular season when leading after three quarters and kept that perfect mark intact with a Game 2 win.


    The incredible second-half charge came exactly one year after Indiana blew a 26-point halftime lead in a historic playoff collapse against the Cavs.


    This time, the Pacers delivered a devastating blow to the three-time defending Eastern Conference champs - on a night LeBron Jones joined Michael Jordan as the only players in playoff history to record 100 double-doubles. James finished with 28 points and 12 rebounds, but it wasn't enough to prevent Cleveland from losing its first game this season after leading following the third quarter.


    WIZARDS 122, RAPTORS 103


    WASHINGTON (AP) - Bradley Beal heeded his coach's plea to ''do his job'' by scoring 21 of his 28 points in the first half, his All-Star backcourt running mate John Wall delivered 28 points and 14 assists, and Washington beat Toronto in an occasionally heated game to cut its Eastern Conference first-round playoff series deficit to 2-1.


    After letting the Raptors grab the first 2-0 series lead in franchise history, the Wizards came home and checked off every box coach Scott Brooks presented. They got Beal more involved after he made only three shots in Game 2; they actually led after the first quarter, 30-29; they played with enough defensive focus to get produce 19 turnovers by Toronto, leading to 28 points for Washington.


    Add it all up, and it was a rare recent victory for Washington, which had lost seven of eight games dating to the regular season.


    DeMar DeRozan led Toronto with 23 points on 10-for-22 shooting one game after scoring 37, and Kyle Lowry had 19 points and eight assists.


    BUCKS 116 CELTICS 92
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  2. #1552  
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    SCHEDULE FOR SATURDAY APRIL 21, 2018
    Time (ET) Away Home Site
    2:30 PM Philadelphia 76ers Miami Heat AmericanAirlines Arena
    5:00 PM Portland Trail Blazers New Orleans Pelicans Smoothie King Center
    7:30 PM Houston Rockets Minnesota Timberwolves Target Center
    10:00 PM Oklahoma City Thunder Utah Jazz Vivint Smart Home Arena


    SCHEDULE FOR SUNDAY APRIL 22, 2018
    Time (ET) Away Home Site
    1:00 PM Boston Celtics Milwaukee Bucks BMO Harris Bradley Center
    3:30 PM Golden State Warriors San Antonio Spurs AT&T Center
    6:00 PM Toronto Raptors Washington Wizards Capital One Arena
    8:30 PM Cleveland Cavaliers Indiana Pacers Bankers Life Fieldhouse


    SCHEDULE FOR MONDAY APRIL 23, 2018
    Time (ET) Away Home Site
    8:00 PM Houston Rockets Minnesota Timberwolves Target Center
    10:30 PM Oklahoma City Thunder Utah Jazz Vivint Smart Home Arena




    ************************






    NBA PLAYOFF RECORD


    DATE W-L-T % UNITS RECORD


    04/20/2018 3-3-0 50.00% -1.50
    04/19/2018 1-5-0 16.67% -22.50
    04/18/2018 2-4-0 33.33% -12.00
    04/17/2018 4-2-0 66.67% +900
    04/16/2018 1-3-0 25.00% -11.50
    04/15/2018 5-3-0 62.50% +8.50
    04/14/2018 1-6-1 14.29% -28.00


    TOTALS.........17-26-1........39.53%....-58.00
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  3. #1553  
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    Saturday’s 6-pack


    NFL Network’s Mike Mayock’s QB ratings for the 2018 Draft:


    6) Mason Rudolph, Oklahoma State


    5) Lamar Jackson, Louisville


    4) Baker Mayfield, Oklahoma


    3) Josh Rosen, UCLA


    2) Josh Allen, Wyoming


    1) Sam Darnold, USC


    Fact of the Day
    “The first time I did acupuncture, it was part of my recovery after I tore my Achilles. The guy I went to for my rehab suggested that it would be good and help with some of the swelling and stuff like that. I tried it and it did work really well. It helped the swelling and took some of the pain away, so it became a weekly thing for me for a while.”
    Chauncey Billups


    Saturday’s quiz
    Of 30 current major league general managers, how many went to an Ivy League school?


    Friday’s quiz
    Dusty Baker was manager of the Cincinnati Reds before Bryan Price.


    Thursday’s quiz
    Alaska was the 49th state, Hawai’i the 50th— Arizona was the 48th state.




    *********************************


    Saturday’s List of 13: Clearing out a cluttered mind…….


    13) Dusty Baker went 509-463 in six years managing the Reds; since they fired him, Cincinnati is 279-387; they just fired Bryan Price, Baker’s successor.


    Baker went 192-132 in two years managing the Nationals; they’re 9-10 in their first year since they fired Baker as manager.


    Baker went 322-326 in four years managing the Cubs; they had losing seasons five of the next seven years before the new owners came in, sunk in lot of money to the team, hired Joe Maddon and now they’re one of baseball’s better teams.


    Baker went 840-715 in ten years managing the Giants; they missed playoffs five of the next six years, but Bruce Bochy has won three World Series titles since replacing Felipe Alou, who had replaced Baker.


    Not really sure why the Reds fired him- they made the freakin’ playoffs the last two years he was their manager.


    12) Happy 73rd birthday to Steve Spurrier, who has had an interesting career:
    — Won Heisman Trophy as a QB at Florida
    — One of last punters who was also a player (QB, mostly a backup with SF)
    — He was the QB of the original Tampa Bay Buccaneers in ‘76
    — He coached the Tampa Bay Bandits (35-19) in the old USFL
    — He was head coach at Duke (20-13-1) — he made Dave Brown look good!!!!
    — He was a great coach at Florida (87-12 in SEC games)
    — He coached the Redskins (12-20) for two forgettable years
    — He revived South Carolina football (86-49, 44-40 in SEC games) for 11 years.


    11) Baker Mayfield has had a camera crew documenting his life since the Rose Bowl loss to Georgia, as he prepares for the draft. Oy. How does he or his people think this helps him?


    10) Penn State hasn’t had a first round pick in NFL Draft since Jared Odrick in 2010; he was a defensive end taken by Miami with the 28th pick.


    9) Green Bay has 12 draft picks next week, the most of any team. Browns, Bills, Patriots all have three first round picks.


    8) Troy Aikman says you can’t teach accuracy throwing a football, you have it or you don’t, which if true, is very bad news for whomever drafts Josh Allen.


    7) Useless knowledge: Lot of NBA players use acupuncture to try and relieve pain and maximize their performance.


    6) Cleveland Cavaliers have won 23 games this season when they were outrebounded, most in NBA; Rockets (22), Pacers (21) are next on that list.


    5) 15 months ago, Trevor Richards was working in the gift shop at Miller Brewery in Milwaukee, making $9 an hour; Friday, Richards was the starting pitcher for the Miami Marlins in Miller Park, against the Brewers. He makes more than $9 an hour now.


    4) There have already been 27 games this baseball season where the game time temperature was in the 30’s; in the previous four years combined, there were 25. In four years.


    3) Miami Marlins’ rookie Jarlin Garcia’s 10 straight hitless innings in his first two major league starts ties the record for most consecutive hitless innings as a new starter – a record set by Bobo Holloman in 1953.


    Hollomon was a 30-year old rookie with the St Louis Browns who went 3-7, 5.23 in 22 games (10 starts) in his only major league season.


    2) In the first week of the season, Giants won consecutive 1-0 games over the Dodgers, with Joe Panik hitting a home run both days.


    This week, Milwaukee beat the Reds 2-0 two days in a row, with Marcus Thames hitting a 2-run homer two days in a row.


    Elias Sports reports that those are the only two times in the last 118 years where two teams played back-to-back games where the only runs scored in either of them came from a home run by the same guy in each game.


    1) Touching moment on Twitter: Barbara Bush’s Secret Service detail, many of whom have been been with her for decades, refused to leave her side until she was buried. They stood by the closed casket during her memorial service. Wow.
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  4. #1554  
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    Saturday's Early Tips
    April 20, 2018
    By Kevin Rogers



    Eastern Conference First Round – Game 4 – 76ers lead 2-1
    Philadelphia at Miami (TNT, 2:35 p.m. ET)



    The NBA is a make or miss league and that mantra has not been more apparent than for this series. The 76ers have won each of their two games against the Heat by knocking down 18 three-pointers in each victory. In the lone loss in Game 2, Philadelphia was limited to 7-of-36 shooting from downtown.


    Oh, and having Joel Embiid in the lineup helps, too.


    After missing the first two games of this series due to an eye injury, Embiid shook off a slow start by scoring a team-high 23 points, including 10 points from the foul line. The 76ers drilled 18-of-34 three-point attempts in a 128-108 blowout of the Heat as 2 ˝-point favorites to capture a 2-1 series lead. The dagger came in the fourth quarter as Philadelphia outscored Miami, 32-14, marking the second win in the series by the Sixers by more than 20 points.


    All five Philadelphia starters finished in double-figures, as Ben Simmons scored 19 points and pulled down 12 rebounds for his second double-double in the series. Marco Belinelli emerged off the bench once again as a spark by posting 21 points, while Dario Saric also put up 21 points, as both players canned four treys.


    The Heat lost in spite of hitting 16 three-pointers, as Justise Winslow and Josh Richardson each converted on four attempts from downtown. However, Dwyane Wade came back down to Earth following his 28-point performance in Game 2, as the Heat guard was limited to 2-of-10 shooting for eight points on Thursday. Center Hassan Whiteside was a non-factor for the third straight game by scoring five points in 13 minutes, moving his series total to 11 points and 12 rebounds.


    Following Thursday’s victory, the 76ers improved to 18-1 SU and 13-6 ATS the last 19 games dating back to March 15. In this stretch, Brent Brown’s squad has covered in five of seven opportunities as a road favorite with the two non-covers coming as double-digit chalk in wins over the Hawks and Knicks.


    VegasInsider.com NBA expert Tony Mejia chimes in on this pivotal Game 4 matchup, “What can Erik Spoelstra and his staff do to adjust to Embiid’s presence now that they’ve seen that not doubling to get the ball out of his hands isn’t an option? Kelly Olynyk will likely get the most minutes in small lineups with Whiteside looking like a no-show, which means we’ll likely see the pace continue to favor Philadelphia since Miami won’t be able to get the game slowed down unless the 76ers suffer through another brutal shooting game like they did in Game 2.”


    Will it be another shootout in Miami? “The total opened at 217 and has been bet down into the 215 range. The odd-numbered games have gotten into the 230's and reached 216 in spite of Philly’s 7-for-36 effort on 3-pointers this past Monday, so I’m not certain this series can be slowed down to the Heat’s liking,” Mejia notes.


    The Heat have one play-on angle for Saturday, at least according to a trend from the 2017 postseason. Home teams trailing a series, 2-1 put together a solid 4-1 record in Game 4’s, with the Rockets winning at Oklahoma City in the first round being the only outlier.


    Western Conference First Round – Game 4 – Pelicans lead 3-0
    Portland at New Orleans (TNT, 5:05 p.m. ET)



    The Blazers closed out the regular season by knocking off the Jazz to grab coveted home-court advantage in the opening round of the playoffs. It seems like that was the worst-possible scenario for Portland, who lost both games at home to New Orleans, followed by a 17-point setback on Thursday to fall into an insurmountable 3-0 series hole.


    The Pelicans/Hornets franchise has advanced past the first round only once since moving to New Orleans in 2002, as the Pels knocked out the Mavericks in 2008. Anthony Davis is carrying the torch towards a potential second round appearance for New Orleans after putting together a third straight double-double against Portland. Davis scored 28 points and pulled down 11 rebounds in Thursday’s 119-102 blowout of the Blazers to easily cash as 3 ˝-point favorites.


    The off-season signing of veteran point guard Rajon Rondo has paid incredible dividends as he put up 16 points and 11 assists in Game 3. Jrue Holiday continues to win the backcourt battle with Portland by registering a +19 rating and scoring 16 points for New Orleans. Alvin Gentry’s squad has shot over 47% from the field in all three wins, including better than 50% in Games 2 and 3.


    Damian Lillard’s playoff credentials took another hit as the Blazers’ All-Star guard by hitting only 5-of-14 shots from the floor for 20 points in Game 3. The 20 points was actually a series best for Lillard, but he averaged nearly 27 points per game in the regular season, which isn’t cutting it for Portland. The Blazers fell to 2-15 SU as a road underdog in the playoffs since 2014 with 13 of those defeats by double-digits.


    Last season, Portland fell behind Golden State, 3-0 and didn’t bother to show up in Game 4 at home as the Blazers lost to the eventual champion Warriors, 128-103. In the 2017 playoffs, clubs down 3-0 put together a 1-5 record in Game 4 action, but all six teams played at home. In 2016 (the upcoming stat doesn’t bode well for Portland), two road teams looked to avoid the sweep in Game 4 and were wiped out. Washington routed Toronto, 125-94, while Cleveland torched Atlanta, 118-88 as both teams covered with no sweat as a favorite.


    Mejia checks in on this potential series-ender in the Big Easy, “Playing with pride is a given from Portland since Lillard and C.J. McCollum are absolutely not quitters, but they’re going to have to make a large volume of 3-pointers late in the shot clock to give the Blazers a chance to get this series back to the Moda Center. New Orleans is pushing tempo at all costs, rendering Jusuf Nurkic as a liability when he’s been so effective down the stretch.


    “This is a case of a bad matchup arriving at the worst possible time. We’re going to hear all about Lillard’s ankle and other bangs and bruises that have helped trip up the Trail Blazers all month, but that may not prevent major changes despite a second division title in four years and five straight playoff appearances. That 25-to-1 Exact Game series prop for New Orleans that a few astute bettors are about to hit sounds delightful.”


    The Pelicans’ train isn’t slowing down anytime soon, as New Orleans has won and covered eight straight games dating back to April 4. Portland is going the opposite way on the highway by losing six consecutive road contests, while posting a 1-5 ATS record in this stretch.
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  5. #1555  
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    Saturday's Late Tips
    April 20, 2018
    By Chris David



    Western Conference First Round – Game 3- Rockets lead 2-0
    Houston at Minnesota (ESPN, 7:35 p.m. ET)



    After receiving a slight scare in their Game 1 victory, the Rockets pressed the gas in Game 2 on Wednesday and captured a 102-82 victory over the Timberwolves as 10 ˝-point home favorites.


    Houston trailed 23-18 after the first quarter but outscored Minnesota by 20 in the second stanza and led 55-40 at halftime. The Timbewolves couldn’t buy a shot (39%) and surprisingly, neither could the Rockets (36.5%). The difference was triples and Houston connected on 16 albeit they took 52 from distance while Minnesota was 5-of-18 (28%) from 3-point land.


    Chris Paul led Houston with 27 points and Gerald Green contributed with 21 points of the bench, which was needed with James Harden having a horrible shooting night (2-of-18). Knowing the Rockets still won the game by 20 points and Harden had only 12 points makes you believe this series will end in four games.


    The oddsmakers certainly believe so, listing the Rockets as -20000 favorites (Bet $100 to win 50 cents) to win the series while the long shot takeback on the Timberwolves is listed at 30/1 odds (Bet $100 to win $3,000).


    For Game 3, Houston opened as a three-point road favorite and the number was quickly pushed up to -5 as was the total from 213 to 214 ˝.


    Snapping a 13-year playoff drought was expected this season by Minnesota and it achieved that goal but Tom Thibodeau’s team just doesn’t match up well with Houston and that’s clearly evident when you look at their recent head-to-head meetings.


    Including this series, the Rockets have won 18 of the past 20 encounters against Minnesota and that includes a 9-1 mark since Tibs arrived. The Wolves did hold a 4-0 ATS run in his rookie coaching campaign but the Rockets have covered five of the six meetings this season


    In the two games played at Minnesota this season, Houston earned 129-120 and 126-108 victories as road favorites while the ‘over’ easily cashed in both games.


    A lot of the blame for Minnesota in this series has been directed at Karl-Anthony Towns and deservingly so. His plus-minus of -21 was tied for worst on the team and he finished with five points on 2-of-9 shooting. That effort came after scoring just eight points in Game 1 on 3-of-9 shooting.


    VegasInsider.com NBA expert Tony Mejia believes the third-year big man out of Kentucky will show up on Saturday evening.


    He explained, “An aggressive Karl-Anthony Towns will undoubtedly show up since his ears have undoubtedly been burning over the past week due to how disappointing he’s been. He hadn’t had consecutive games with single-digit shot attempts since back-to-back losses in Atlanta and Toronto to end January and bounced back with a four-game stretch where he made 40 of 56 shots, which included going off for 35 points on the Rockets. He’s more comfortable at home, so at least keep that in mind before pounding the road favorite, which is what human nature is likely telling you to do given how lost the Timberwolves looked in Houston.”


    Bettors wavering on the side or total can always invest in Player Props on Towns and not surprisingly his numbers (23 PPG, 12.8 RPG) at home were much more productive in the regular season.


    It’s hard to delve into playoff angles for Minnesota since its last trip came in 2004 but the homecourt proved to be valuable as the Wolves went 8-2 SU and 5-5 ATS during that postseason run which ended in a six-game series loss to the L.A. Lakers in the Western Conference Finals.


    If you’re looking for an angle to play the Wolves in Game 3, you could point to Houston’s weak playoff record on the road since Harden arrived in the 2012-13 season. The Rockets are 6-16 SU and 11-10-1 ATS as visitors. They’ve only been listed as favorites twice during this span and they’ve gone 1-1 SU and 0-2 ATS while the ‘over’ was 2-0 in those games.


    As mentioned above, the total has been moving up and we’ve got a Best Bet featured on Game 3.


    Game 4 will take place at the Target Center on Monday.


    Western Conference First Round – Game 3 - Series tied 1-1
    Oklahoma City at Utah (ESPN, 10:05 p.m. ET)



    The 4-5 matchup in the Western Conference was expected to be the tightest first round series and the opening two games have lived up to that billing. Oklahoma City captured Game 1 116-108 last Sunday and Utah rebounded this past Wednesday with a 102-95 victory in Game 2 while cashing as a three-point road underdog.


    Utah rookie Donovan Mitchell continued to build his resume by dropping 28 points on Wednesday and 13 of them came in the fourth quarter. Meanwhile, Oklahoma City’s “Big Three” of Russell Westbrook, Paul George and Carmelo Anthony went a combined 0-of-14 in the final 12 minutes as the Thunder were outscored 28-16 by the Jazz.


    Both the Jazz (41.7%, 31%, 79%) and Thunder (40%, 31%, 67%) struggled shooting from the field, 3-point land and the free throw stripe. Outside of OKC scoring 33 point in the third quarter, neither team had much rhythm as the ‘under’ (208 ˝) connected.


    The key for OKC is Westbrook and Mejia is hesitant to back last year’s regular season MVP when you delve into his current form.


    “Russell Westbrook is shooting less than 39 percent in the series and again faded down the stretch, so this shooting slump he’s been mired in over the past five games is threatening to be a season-killer. He’s shot just under 35 percent in splitting his last four meetings in Salt Lake City since Kevin Durant left town, so recent history doesn’t bode well for a resurgence,” stated Mejia.


    He added, “Unless he figures out how to beat a great Jazz defense without the benefit of a jumper that can no longer be relied upon, Utah is in position to take control of the series. Finishing with 13 assists and just three turnovers in Game 2 is a positive sign since the Thunder are going to lose unless he can get both Paul George and Carmelo Anthony going after they posted a bagel in Wednesday’s fourth quarter.”


    For Game 3, oddsmakers opened Utah as a 4 ˝-point home favorite with a total of 207 and both numbers have held steady.


    The Jazz closed the season 15-5 at Vivint Smart Home Arena but they weren’t profitable (9-11 ATS) at the betting counter. Plus, only seven of those games came against playoff teams and they were a pedestrian 4-3 versus the tougher competition.


    The Thunder weren’t a great road team (21-20 SU, 17-23-1 ATS) by any means but it went 8-4 in the second-half of the season and two of the losses came by less than four points. As a road ‘dog, OKC went 6-5 and the point-spread never mattered which could make you believe the money-line (+170) is the better option in Game 3.


    Oklahoma City certainly has different faces on this year’s squad but it enters Saturday’s matchup with a six-game road losing skid in the playoffs. On the side of the court, Utah hasn’t been much better. In last year’s postseason, Utah went 1-4 both SU and ATS at home.


    The series price opened OKC (-135) Utah (+115) and those odds have flip-flopped to Utah (-135) OKC (+115) after the split.


    The pair will meet again Monday in Game 4 from Salt Lake City.
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  6. #1556  
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    Saturday's Best Bet
    April 20, 2018

    Saturday NBA Playoffs Best Bet


    Houston Rockets vs Minnesota Timberwolves – Game 3



    The Houston Rockets take a 2-0 series lead with them to Minnesota for Game 3 on Saturday night as if Game 2 was any indication, Minnesota won't be making a return trip with the Rockets back to Houston for a Game 5.


    Minnesota was blown out 102-82 in Game 2 in a game that really got ugly for the T-Wolves once the second quarter started. Putting up 17 and 18 points in the 2nd and 3rd frames respectively doesn't have a hope in hell of beating this high-powered Houston team, and Minnesota is hoping some home cooking can reverse the fortunes of their offense right now.


    Can Minnesota get it together in time before they fall down 0-3 in this series?


    Houston (-5); Total set at 214


    Now that the series has shifted back home for Minnesota, they are hoping some friendly surroundings can help get Karl-Anthony Towns out of his funk. Towns has basically been non-existent in this series so far with just 8 points in Game 1 and 5 points in Game 2.


    If Minnesota is going to win a game in this series they need Towns to assert his will offensively and put up 25+ points and there is just no way around it. Being back at home should help get Towns going, but what will give him more room to work with inside is having others around him knock down shots. Whether that means we see a bit more of Jamal Crawford in Game 3 is unknown, but his shooting ability can spread the floor out and then Minnesota can work that inside-out game that brought them so much success this year.


    Houston, well, they will just keep doing what they do and that's shooting a lot of threes and let James Harden dictate the pace of the game. Houston's defense has been the most surprising thing (in a positive way) for the Rockets to this 2-0 series lead though as the Rocket shave not really shot the ball anywhere near their standards, but they've still got a 20-point win in this series.


    The Rockets defense is hoping to travel with them, but knowing how desperate the T-Wolves will be in Game 3, Harden and the rest of Houston's shooters better be prepared for an old fashioned shootout if you ask me.


    These two teams were ranked in the Top 10 in points per game this year (Houston #2, Minnesota #8) and we haven't really seen either side explode yet in this series. Given the fact that their four meetings in the regular season saw Houston score 116 or more in all four games, eventually we will see the Rockets tickle that 120-point mark and Minnesota is more likely to keep up now that they are back at home.


    In fact, both home games Minnesota played against the Rockets this year cashed 'over' tickets, and while Minnesota went 0-2 SU and ATS in those games, they scored at least 108 points in each. If Towns shows up and pours in 20+, Minnesota should threaten the 110 mark here and that should be more than enough to cash an 'over' ticket for the first time in this series.


    So that's where my money is going on this game, as I don't think we see any more sub-200 point games in this series and I'm not about to fool around with the point spread that could end up coming down to make or miss free throws at the end. This game has all the makings of a track meet after two sub-par shooting efforts by both teams quite frankly.




    Best Bet: Over 214 points
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    Saturday's NBA Playoffs Betting Preview and Odds


    The opening round of the 2018 NBA Playoffs continues Saturday with two Game 3s and two Game 4s, including the Pelicans looking to be the first team to clinch their spot in the Conference semifinals.


    Philadelphia 76ers at Miami Heat (+3, 215)


    76ers lead series 2-1


    Philadelphia 76ers All-Star center Joel Embiid returned with a vengeance from an orbital fracture and is intent on making things painful for the Miami Heat. Embiid and the third-seeded 76ers look to take a 3-1 lead in the Eastern Conference first-round series on Saturday in Miami.


    TV: 2:30 p.m. ET, TNT, NBCS Philadelphia, FS Sun (Miami)


    SERIES PRICE (PER LV SUPERBOOK):





    LINE MOVES AND BETTING ACTION: Oddsmakers opened the Sixers as 3-point road favorites for Game 4 and the line has yet to move off that number. It's the total that's seeing the early action, moving down two points from 217 to 215. That's interesting considering 61 percent of wagers are on the Over accoring to our consensus. Sixty-seven percent of wagers are laying the points with the Sixers.


    ABOUT THE 76ERS (54-31, 49-34-2 ATS, 43-41 O/U): Embiid had 23 points, seven rebounds and four assists in Thursday's 128-108 trouncing of the Heat after missing the previous 10 games, including the first two of the playoff series. Emiid's return also facilitated for the Sixers shooters, who ended up hitting over 50 percent of their 3-pointers in Game 3. Philadelphia is also receiving superb contributions from backup shooting guard Marco Belinelli, who had 21 points in Game 3 and is averaging 20.7 in the series.


    ABOUT THE HEAT (45-40, 41-38-6 ATS, 39-45-1 O/U): Center Hassan Whiteside has been a complete nonfactor in the series with averages of 13.3 minutes, 3.7 points and four rebounds. Whiteside accumulated four fouls in just 13 minutes of action in Game 3 and again drew criticism for his latest subpar effort, and coach Eric Spoelstra said getting him back on track for Game 4 is a huge priority.


    MATCHUP CHART:





    TRENDS:


    * 76ers are 5-1 ATS in their last six road games.
    * Heat are 1-5 ATS in their last six home games.
    * Over is 6-1 in 76ers last seven vs. Eastern Conference opponents.
    * Over is 5-1-1 in Heat last seven vs. Atlantic Division opponents.








    Portland Trail Blazers at New Orleans Pelicans (-7, 216)


    Pelicans lead series 3-0


    Anthony Davis and the New Orleans Pelicans are one victory away from completing a stunning yet dominating four-game sweep. The sixth-seeded Pelicans look to finish off their demolition of the third-seeded Portland Trail Blazers on Saturday when the Western Conference first-round series resumes in New Orleans.


    TV: 5 p.m. ET, TNT, NBCS Northwest (Portland), FS New Orleans


    SERIES PRICE (PER LV SUPERBOOK):





    LINE MOVES AND BETTING ACTION: The Pellies opened Game 4 as 6-point home faves and bettors not only think New Orleans will end the series on Saturday, they like them enough to move the line to -7. With the Pellies seeing just 53 percent of the wagers according to our consensus, that may indicate that its sharp money moving the line. The total remains at the opening number of 216.


    ABOUT THE TRAIL BLAZERS (49-36, 45-35-5 ATS, 36-49 O/U): The guard-oriented offense isn't working well with star Damian Lillard struggling and McCollum's 9-of-16 shooting in Game 3 representing his best effort of the series. McCollum scored 22 points in Game 3 and is averaging 21 in the series, while Lillard scored a series-high 20 in Game 3 but is a dismal 18-of-55 shooting through three games. Swingman Evan Turner (toe) is questionable after missing Game 4.


    ABOUT THE PELICANS (51-34, 48-36-1 ATS, 48-37 O/U): Forward Nikola Mirotic is enjoying a superb series and is averaging 21 points after exploding for 30 points on 12-of-15 shooting in Game 3. Mirotic has made 11 3-pointers while averaging nine rebounds, 2.3 blocked shots and 1.7 steals in the series and the Trail Blazers seem to have no answer on how to handle the trio of Davis, guard Jrue Holiday and Mirotic, who was acquired from the Chicago Bulls at the end of January after DeMarcus Cousins (Achilles) was lost for the season. Davis is averaging 28.3 points, 12.3 rebounds, 2.7 blocks and 2.3 steals in the series.


    MATCHUP CHART:





    TRENDS:


    * Trail Blazers are 1-5 ATS in their last six road games.
    * Pelicans are 8-0 ATS in their last eight games overall.
    * Under is 6-1 in Trail Blazers last seven vs. a team with a winning SU record.
    * Under is 9-3-1 in Pelicans last 13 vs. a team with a winning SU record.








    Houston Rockets at Minnesota Timberwolves (+5.5, 214)


    Rockets lead series 2-0


    Houston Rockets guard James Harden is likely to take home his first NBA MVP trophy this season and is the best player on the team with the best record in the league, but he is not the whole team. The Rockets will take any offense they can get from Harden when they try to push their lead in the best-of-seven first-round series to 3-0 when they visit the Minnesota Timberwolves on Saturday.


    TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, ESPN, AT&T SportsNet Southwest (Houston), FS North (Minnesota)


    SERIES PRICE (PER LV SUPERBOOK):





    LINE MOVES AND BETTING ACTION: The Rockets hit the board as low as 3.5-point road favorites for Game 3, but bettors jumped all over the low number and have pushed it all the way to the current number of Rockets -5.5. That isn't too surprising considering the Rockets are seeing 62 percent of wagers according to our consensus. The total opened at 213 and is up to 214, with 66 percent of wagers on the Over.


    ABOUT THE ROCKETS (61-17, 42-41-1 ATS, 33-50-1 O/U): How can you tell Minnesota doesn't have a chance in this series? Harden went 2-of-18 from the floor in Game 2 but Houston still managed to post a 102-82 win and the Rockets are shooting just 29.2 percent from 3-point range in the series and are up 2-0. Houston's supporting cast stepped up to help Harden on Wednesday, with Houston native Gerald Green coming off the bench for 21 points and Trevor Ariza adding 15. Chris Paul added 27 points and eight assists in Game 2.


    ABOUT THE TIMBERWOLVES (47-37, 38-43-3 ATS, 45-38-1 O/U): Minnesota remains confident despite being in an 0-2 hole and is excited to play the franchise's first home playoff game since Game 5 of the Western Conference finals in 2004. Andrew Wiggins led Minnesota's starters and was one of only three players on the team to score in double figures with 13 points in Game 2.


    MATCHUP CHART:





    TRENDS:


    * Rockets are 1-7 ATS in their last eight vs. Western Conference opponents.
    * Timberwolves are 5-1 ATS in their last six games overall.
    * Under is 26-6 in Rockets last 32 vs. Western Conference opponents.
    * Over is 7-1 in Timberwolves last eight home games vs. a team with a winning road record.








    Oklahoma City Thunder at Utah Jazz (-4.5, 207)


    Series tied 1-1


    The Utah Jazz took homecourt advantage behind rookie star Donovan Mitchell with a win at Oklahoma City in Game 2. The Jazz will try to hold onto that advantage when they host the Thunder in Game 3 of the best-of-seven Western Conference first-round series on Saturday.


    TV: 10 p.m. ET, ESPN, FS Oklahoma, AT&T SportsNet Rocky Mountain (Utah)


    SERIES PRICE (PER LV SUPERBOOK):





    LINE MOVES AND BETTING ACTION: Oddsmakers opened the Jazz as 3.5-point home favorites and were quickly bet to the current number of -4.5. Even with the line move, bettors are split almost down the middle for this matchup according to our consensus with 52 percent of wagers giving the Jazz a slight edge. The total remains at the opening number of 207.


    ABOUT THE THUNDER (49-35, 35-48-1 ATS, 37-47 O/U): Carmelo Anthony is off to a slow start in his first playoff series with Oklahoma City and is 11-of-31 from the floor through two games. Small forward Paul George, who dubbed himself "Playoff P," went 6-of-21 from the field in the loss after a terrific Game 1. Meanwhile, former MVP Russell Westbrook recorded a double-double in each of the first two games.


    ABOUT THE JAZZ (49-35, 44-40 ATS, 40-43-1 O/U): Utah dropped Game 1 and fell behind in Game 2 before outscoring Oklahoma City 28-16 in the fourth quarter to steal a 102-95 victory. Mitchell's 55 points are the most for a rookie for a rookie guard in his first two playoff games, surpassing the 53 points scored by Michael Jordan. The backcourt production was matched up front by Rudy Gobert and Derrick Favors, who combined for 33 points and 31 rebounds.


    MATCHUP CHART:





    TRENDS:


    * Thunder are 5-2 ATS in their last seven road games.
    * Jazz are 2-5 ATS in their last seven home games.
    * Under is 5-0 in Thunder last five road games.
    * Under is 8-0 in the last eight meetings in Utah.
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  8. #1558  
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    NBA
    Dunkel


    Saturday, April 21




    Philadelphia @ Miami


    Game 717-718
    April 21, 2018 @ 2:35 pm


    Dunkel Rating:
    Philadelphia
    121.335
    Miami
    122.409
    Dunkel Team:
    Dunkel Line:
    Dunkel Total:
    Miami
    by 1
    221
    Vegas Team:
    Vegas Line:
    Vegas Total:
    Philadelphia
    by 3 1/2
    214 1/2
    Dunkel Pick:
    Miami
    (+3 1/2); Over


    Portland @ New Orleans



    Game 719-720
    April 21, 2018 @ 5:05 pm


    Dunkel Rating:
    Portland
    121.508
    New Orleans
    125.675
    Dunkel Team:
    Dunkel Line:
    Dunkel Total:
    New Orleans
    by 4
    207
    Vegas Team:
    Vegas Line:
    Vegas Total:
    New Orleans
    by 7
    216
    Dunkel Pick:
    Portland
    (+7); Under


    Houston @ Minnesota



    Game 721-722
    April 21, 2018 @ 7:35 pm


    Dunkel Rating:
    Houston
    125.048
    Minnesota
    118.109
    Dunkel Team:
    Dunkel Line:
    Dunkel Total:
    Houston
    by 7
    197
    Vegas Team:
    Vegas Line:
    Vegas Total:
    Houston
    by 5 1/2
    214 1/2
    Dunkel Pick:
    Houston
    (-5 1/2); Under


    Oklahoma City @ Utah



    Game 723-724
    April 21, 2018 @ 10:05 pm


    Dunkel Rating:
    Oklahoma City
    120.204
    Utah
    126.775
    Dunkel Team:
    Dunkel Line:
    Dunkel Total:
    Utah
    by 6 1/2
    204
    Vegas Team:
    Vegas Line:
    Vegas Total:
    Utah
    by 4 1/2
    207
    Dunkel Pick:
    Utah
    (-4 1/2); Under









    NBA
    Long Sheet


    Saturday, April 21



    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    PHILADELPHIA (54 - 31) at MIAMI (45 - 40) - 4/21/2018, 2:35 PM
    Top Trends for this game.
    MIAMI is 91-72 ATS (+11.8 Units) in all games over the last 2 seasons.
    MIAMI is 55-37 ATS (+14.3 Units) as an underdog over the last 2 seasons.
    MIAMI is 39-26 ATS (+10.4 Units) in the second half of the season over the last 2 seasons.
    MIAMI is 31-16 ATS (+13.4 Units) revenging a home loss vs opponent over the last 3 seasons.
    MIAMI is 48-33 ATS (+11.7 Units) revenging a loss vs opponent over the last 2 seasons.
    MIAMI is 25-10 ATS (+14.0 Units) when playing against a team with a winning record - 2nd half of the season over the last 2 seasons.
    PHILADELPHIA is 50-35 ATS (+11.5 Units) in all games this season.
    PHILADELPHIA is 35-23 ATS (+9.7 Units) as a favorite this season.
    PHILADELPHIA is 24-13 ATS (+9.7 Units) in the second half of the season this season.
    PHILADELPHIA is 15-6 ATS (+8.4 Units) against Southeast division opponents this season.
    PHILADELPHIA is 21-11 ATS (+8.9 Units) after a win by 10 points or more this season.
    PHILADELPHIA is 30-18 ATS (+10.2 Units) after scoring 115 points or more over the last 2 seasons.
    PHILADELPHIA is 48-34 ATS (+10.6 Units) when playing against a team with a winning record over the last 2 seasons.

    Head-to-Head Series History
    PHILADELPHIA is 8-6 against the spread versus MIAMI over the last 3 seasons
    MIAMI is 8-6 straight up against PHILADELPHIA over the last 3 seasons
    7 of 14 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    PORTLAND (49 - 36) at NEW ORLEANS (51 - 34) - 4/21/2018, 5:05 PM
    Top Trends for this game.
    NEW ORLEANS is 48-36 ATS (+8.4 Units) in all games this season.
    NEW ORLEANS is 28-18 ATS (+8.2 Units) as a favorite this season.
    NEW ORLEANS is 8-1 ATS (+6.9 Units) in April games this season.
    NEW ORLEANS is 22-12 ATS (+8.8 Units) in the second half of the season this season.
    PORTLAND is 45-33 ATS (+8.7 Units) in all games this season.
    PORTLAND is 15-6 ATS (+8.4 Units) versus poor defensive teams - allowing 106+ points/game - 2nd half of the season this season.
    PORTLAND is 15-6 ATS (+8.4 Units) versus good offensive teams - scoring 106+ points/game - 2nd half of the season this season.

    Head-to-Head Series History
    NEW ORLEANS is 9-6 against the spread versus PORTLAND over the last 3 seasons
    NEW ORLEANS is 9-6 straight up against PORTLAND over the last 3 seasons
    8 of 15 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    HOUSTON (67 - 17) at MINNESOTA (47 - 37) - 4/21/2018, 7:35 PM
    Top Trends for this game.
    HOUSTON is 52-33 ATS (+15.7 Units) in road games over the last 2 seasons.
    HOUSTON is 14-5 ATS (+8.5 Units) against Northwest division opponents this season.
    HOUSTON is 119-89 ATS (+21.1 Units) after 3 or more consecutive unders since 1996.
    HOUSTON is 26-13 ATS (+11.7 Units) in road games versus good offensive teams - scoring 106+ points/game over the last 3 seasons.
    MINNESOTA is 40-66 ATS (-32.6 Units) in home games in April games since 1996.
    MINNESOTA is 373-437 ATS (-107.7 Units) in the second half of the season since 1996.

    Head-to-Head Series History
    MINNESOTA is 7-6 against the spread versus HOUSTON over the last 3 seasons
    HOUSTON is 12-1 straight up against MINNESOTA over the last 3 seasons
    8 of 13 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------

    OKLAHOMA CITY (49 - 35) at UTAH (49 - 35) - 4/21/2018, 10:05 PM
    Top Trends for this game.
    OKLAHOMA CITY is 34-48 ATS (-18.8 Units) in all games this season.
    OKLAHOMA CITY is 3-15 ATS (-13.5 Units) vs. division opponents this season.
    OKLAHOMA CITY is 11-24 ATS (-15.4 Units) revenging a loss vs opponent this season.
    OKLAHOMA CITY is 17-26 ATS (-11.6 Units) when playing against a team with a winning record this season.
    UTAH is 14-4 ATS (+9.6 Units) versus good offensive teams - scoring 106+ points/game - 2nd half of the season this season.
    OKLAHOMA CITY is 60-39 ATS (+17.1 Units) on Saturday games since 1996.
    OKLAHOMA CITY is 38-21 ATS (+14.9 Units) in road games after playing 3 consecutive home games since 1996.

    Head-to-Head Series History
    OKLAHOMA CITY is 8-5 against the spread versus UTAH over the last 3 seasons
    OKLAHOMA CITY is 11-3 straight up against UTAH over the last 3 seasons
    10 of 14 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------






    NBA
    Armadillo's Write-Up


    Saturday, April 21



    76ers (2-1) @ Heat

    Sixers won 18 of their last 19 games; they snapped 4-game losing skid in Miami with Game 3 win, when they made 18-34 on arc, after going 7-36 in Game 2 loss. Miami led all three series games at halftime, but were outscored by 31-21 points in second half of their two losses. Embiid returned and had 23 points, while Simmons had 19 points, 12 boards. Miami is 6-7 in its last 13 games overall, 4-3 in last seven home games; Heat was 16-33 on arc in Game 3, but only 17-40 inside arc. Sixers shot 50.6% from floor and were 28-37 on foul line.


    Trailblazers @ Pelicans (3-0)
    

Mirotic scored 30 points in Pelicans’ 119-102 Game 3 win; he was +19 in 30:11 as Pelicans won/covered their 8th straight game. Davis has 85 points, 38 boards in series. New Orleans won seven of last nine games with Portland; six of last nine series games stayed under total. Blazers are 1-4 vs spread in last five visits to Bourbon Street; they turned ball over 24 times (-12) in Game 3 and made only 9-31 on arc, both of which started lot of Pelican fast breaks. Portland lost its last six road games overall (1-5 vs spread)- they’re trying to fend off elimination here.


    Rockets (2-0) @ Timberwolves
    Houston survived 2-18 night from Harden and posted easy 102-82 home win in Game 2; they were 16-52 on arc, 19-44 inside arc- they held Towns to five points. Rockets won eight games in row over Minnesota; they’re 2-2 vs spread in last four visits here, but 5-1 vs spread in last six series games overall. Over is 7-5 in last dozen series games. Houston was held to 104-102 points in first two series games, but Wolves had covered their last five games before getting crushed in Game 2. Minnesota is just 13-41 behind arc in series.


    Thunder (1-1) @ Jazz
    Westbrook/Anthony/George were just 19-58 from floor in 102-95 home loss to Utah in Game 2 of this series; Thunder was 11-35 on arc, compared to 14-29 in Game 1. Thunder bench was -27 in Game 2, after being +44 in 116-108 Game 1 win. Jazz won only twice in last nine games vs OKC; Thunder is 2-2 vs spread in last four visits to Utah. Five of last six series games stayed under the total. Utah won seven of last nine games overall; they won their last four home games. Under is 9-3 in last dozen Jazz games.


    Wizards-Raptors
    Tor 114-106, -7.5, O211
    Tor 130-119, -7, O214
    
Wsh 122-103, -1, O217.5


    Heat-76ers
    Phil 130-103, -6.5, O212
    Mia 113-103, +6.5, U217
    
Phil 128-108, -2.5, O213.5


    Bucks-Celtics
    Bos 113-107 OT, -4.5, O199.5
    Bos 120-106, -1, O200
    
Mil 116-92, -5, O205.5


    Pacers-Cavaliers
    Ind 98-80, +7.5, U212.5

    Clev 100-97, -8, U209

    Ind 92-90, -1.5, U209.5


    Spurs-Warriors
    GState 113-92, -8, U209.5

    GState 116-101, -9 O205.5
    
GState 110-97, -3.5, O205.5


    Pelicans-Blazers
    NO 97-95, +5.5, U216.5
    NO 111-102, +6, U216
    
NO 119-102, -3.5, O215.5


    Jazz-Thunder
    OKC 116-108, -4.5, O205
    
Utah 102-95, +4, U206.5


    Wolves-Rockets
    Hst 104-101, -11.5, U215.5
    
Hst 102-82, -10.5, U212.5








    NBA


    Saturday, April 21



    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Trend Report
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    Philadelphia 76ers
    Philadelphia is 13-4 ATS in its last 17 games
    Philadelphia is 18-1 SU in its last 19 games
    The total has gone OVER in 4 of Philadelphia's last 5 games
    Philadelphia is 5-1 ATS in its last 6 games on the road
    Philadelphia is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games on the road
    The total has gone OVER in 5 of Philadelphia's last 7 games on the road
    Philadelphia is 2-3-1 ATS in its last 6 games when playing Miami
    Philadelphia is 1-3-1 ATS in its last 5 games when playing on the road against Miami
    Philadelphia is 1-7 SU in its last 8 games when playing on the road against Miami
    Miami Heat
    Miami is 3-7 ATS in its last 10 games
    Miami is 2-4 SU in its last 6 games
    The total has gone OVER in 4 of Miami's last 6 games
    Miami is 1-5 ATS in its last 6 games at home
    Miami is 10-3 SU in its last 13 games at home
    Miami is 3-5-2 ATS in its last 10 games when playing at home against Philadelphia
    Miami is 7-1 SU in its last 8 games when playing at home against Philadelphia




    Portland Trail Blazers
    Portland is 1-5 ATS in its last 6 games
    Portland is 1-7 SU in its last 8 games
    The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Portland's last 5 games
    Portland is 1-5 ATS in its last 6 games on the road
    Portland is 0-5 SU in its last 5 games on the road
    The total has gone OVER in 4 of Portland's last 6 games on the road
    Portland is 1-5 ATS in its last 6 games when playing New Orleans
    Portland is 1-5 SU in its last 6 games when playing New Orleans
    Portland is 1-4 ATS in its last 5 games when playing on the road against New Orleans
    Portland is 1-4 SU in its last 5 games when playing on the road against New Orleans
    New Orleans Pelicans
    New Orleans is 5-0 ATS in its last 5 games
    New Orleans is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games
    New Orleans is 8-2 ATS in its last 10 games at home
    New Orleans is 7-2 SU in its last 9 games at home
    The total has gone OVER in 4 of New Orleans's last 6 games at home
    New Orleans is 5-1 ATS in its last 6 games when playing Portland
    New Orleans is 5-1 SU in its last 6 games when playing Portland
    New Orleans is 4-1 ATS in its last 5 games when playing at home against Portland
    New Orleans is 4-1 SU in its last 5 games when playing at home against Portland




    Houston Rockets
    Houston is 1-5 ATS in its last 6 games
    Houston is 16-3 SU in its last 19 games
    The total has gone UNDER in 5 of Houston's last 5 games
    Houston is 1-4-1 ATS in its last 6 games on the road
    Houston is 15-3 SU in its last 18 games on the road
    The total has gone UNDER in 7 of Houston's last 9 games on the road
    Houston is 5-1 ATS in its last 6 games when playing Minnesota
    Houston is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games when playing Minnesota
    The total has gone OVER in 14 of Houston's last 19 games when playing Minnesota
    The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Houston's last 6 games when playing Minnesota
    Houston is 13-6 ATS in its last 19 games when playing on the road against Minnesota
    Houston is 6-1 SU in its last 7 games when playing on the road against Minnesota
    The total has gone OVER in 7 of Houston's last 8 games when playing on the road against Minnesota
    Minnesota Timberwolves
    Minnesota is 5-1 ATS in its last 6 games
    The total has gone UNDER in 5 of Minnesota's last 6 games
    Minnesota is 15-7-1 ATS in its last 23 games at home
    Minnesota is 20-5 SU in its last 25 games at home
    The total has gone OVER in 11 of Minnesota's last 14 games at home
    Minnesota is 1-5 ATS in its last 6 games when playing Houston
    Minnesota is 0-5 SU in its last 5 games when playing Houston
    The total has gone OVER in 14 of Minnesota's last 19 games when playing Houston
    The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Minnesota's last 6 games when playing Houston
    Minnesota is 6-13-1 ATS in its last 20 games when playing at home against Houston
    Minnesota is 1-6 SU in its last 7 games when playing at home against Houston
    The total has gone OVER in 7 of Minnesota's last 8 games when playing at home against Houston




    Oklahoma City Thunder
    Oklahoma City is 4-7-1 ATS in its last 12 games
    Oklahoma City is 4-1 SU in its last 5 games
    The total has gone UNDER in 9 of Oklahoma City's last 12 games
    Oklahoma City is 5-2 ATS in its last 7 games on the road
    Oklahoma City is 5-2 SU in its last 7 games on the road
    The total has gone UNDER in 5 of Oklahoma City's last 5 games on the road
    Oklahoma City is 6-3 ATS in its last 9 games when playing Utah
    Oklahoma City is 4-1 SU in its last 5 games when playing Utah
    The total has gone UNDER in 5 of Oklahoma City's last 6 games when playing Utah
    Oklahoma City is 4-2 ATS in its last 6 games when playing on the road against Utah
    Oklahoma City is 4-2 SU in its last 6 games when playing on the road against Utah
    The total has gone UNDER in 5 of Oklahoma City's last 5 games when playing on the road against Utah
    Utah Jazz
    Utah is 4-2 ATS in its last 6 games
    Utah is 18-5 SU in its last 23 games
    The total has gone OVER in 9 of Utah's last 13 games
    Utah is 2-5 ATS in its last 7 games at home
    Utah is 9-2 SU in its last 11 games at home
    The total has gone UNDER in 10 of Utah's last 15 games at home
    Utah is 3-6 ATS in its last 9 games when playing Oklahoma City
    Utah is 1-4 SU in its last 5 games when playing Oklahoma City
    The total has gone UNDER in 5 of Utah's last 6 games when playing Oklahoma City
    Utah is 2-4 ATS in its last 6 games when playing at home against Oklahoma City
    Utah is 2-4 SU in its last 6 games when playing at home against Oklahoma City
    The total has gone UNDER in 5 of Utah's last 5 games when playing at home against Oklahoma City
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  9. #1559  
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    Advantage Utah? Jazz's Derrick Favors "100 percent" back
    April 21, 2018



    SALT LAKE CITY (AP) When Derrick Favors can find ways to impose his will, good things happen for the Utah Jazz.


    Favors has been quietly, albeit effectively, getting it done against the Oklahoma City Thunder, playing in the shadows of Utah rookie of the year candidate Donovan Mitchell and Jazz center Rudy Gobert.


    But a healthy Favors is making an impact.


    The Jazz have returned to Utah with the series tied 1-1, thanks in no small part to Favors. He tallied career playoff highs of 20 points and 16 rebounds in Utah's 102-95 road win on Wednesday.


    Jazz coach Quin Snyder will start Favors at power forward alongside Gobert beginning with Game 3 on Saturday. But he will also utilize him as a backup center to spell Gobert. Favors has done his part to make playing alongside Gobert work by extending his shooting range to improve offensive spacing. He has also made himself an effective roller.


    ''He's always been a good pick-and-roll player, regardless of `position,''' Snyder said. ''We've never really thought of him as one position or the other. We've thought of him as a basketball player and tried to have him understand his strengths and then play to his strengths.''


    Indeed. In the first two playoff games against the Thunder, Favors is averaging 13.5 points on 52 percent shooting and 10.5 rebounds.


    It is exactly the type of impact Favors envisioned making when fighting to reclaim his body from knee and back injuries that afflicted him for the better part of two seasons.


    ''I'm back to being 100 percent,'' Favors said. ''Back healthy. Back moving the way I know I can move and playing the way I know I can play. It's a big advantage for us.''


    There's no question having Favors at full strength has improved Utah's ability to counter a Thunder team featuring the potent trio of Russell Westbrook, Carmelo Anthony and Paul George. The veteran forward/center offers versatility on both ends of the court honed through playing multiple positions as circumstances dictate.


    Crashing the boards definitely tops the list when checking off Favors' strengths. He ranks second on the Jazz roster in rebounding behind Gobert with 7.2 rebounds per game.


    When Favors is active on the glass, it can change the direction of a game for Utah. In Game 2 against Oklahoma City, he grabbed eight offensive rebounds through the first 2 1/2 quarters. By contrast, the Thunder totaled six offensive boards as a team in the same stretch.


    ''His length and his strength allow him to get his hands on balls,'' Snyder said. ''He's got such good hands that even when he keeps the ball alive, usually something good happens.''


    Favors' willingness to go full throttle around the basket has turned him into a reliable complimentary player on offense. He rolls to the basket with consistency and, more often than not, it pays off for him.


    It has turned Favors into a legitimate offensive presence again. He averaged 9.5 points on 48.7 percent shooting while limited to 50 games a year ago. This season, Favors is scoring 12.3 points per game while shooting 56.3 percent from the floor.


    ''Other teams and other opponents, they look and see I'm 6-foot-10 and think I'm a 5 man or whatever, so they try to take advantage of it,'' Favors said. ''It just feels good to be able to go out there and move the way that I know that I can move and be able to play the way I know that I can play and teams can't take advantage of it.''


    Favors is focused on staying aggressive as the series with the Thunder shifts to Utah. He is having fun playing basketball again and wants to make sure Oklahoma City continues to feel his presence on both ends of the court.


    His teammates certainly do and they understand what a difference it can potentially make as the Jazz battle to keep going in the postseason.


    ''He's been like that all year,'' Mitchell said, ''but he's definitely turned it up with what he can do.''


    ---
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  10. #1560  
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    SATURDAY, APRIL 21
    GAME TIME(ET) PICK UNITS



    PHI at MIA 02:30 PM
    MIA +3.0
    O 215.0



    POR at NO 05:00 PM
    NO -7.0
    O 216.0



    HOU at MIN 07:30 PM
    MIN +5.5
    O 214.0



    OKC at UTA 10:00 PM
    UTA -4.5
    U 207.0
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