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NBA Playoff Week 8/17-23

17 August 2020

Last updated: 22 August 2020 at 2:16 pm

NBA Picks and Predictions by TJ Calkins at USsportsbonus

Saturday Betting Play

Los Angeles Lakers vs Portland Trail Blazers

8:30PM EST

Opening Line: Lakers -7.5
Current Line: Lakers -7.5

At the risk of sounding like broken record, we are going right back to Portland today. The ______ shooting performance from Wednesday won’t be repeated and they will bounce back after a lackluster showing.

Betting Play: Portland +7.5

Best Sportsbooks For This Pick

New JerseyWilliam Hill square logoBet@William Hill
PennsylvaniaSugarHouse online casino square logoBet@SugarHouse
IndianaBetMGM white and gold logo on black backgroundBet@BetMGM
West VirginiaBetMGM white and gold logo on black backgroundBet@BetMGM
ColoradoBetMGM white and gold logo on black backgroundBet@BetMGM
IllinoisBetRivers square logoBet@BetRivers

Friday Betting Play

Denver Nuggets vs Utah Jazz

4PM EST

Opening Line: Nuggets -1.5 and 220
Current Line: Nuggets -1.5 218.5

After going back to the well with the Blazers yesterday and failing, I similarly remain steadfast (and stubborn) that the totals on this series remain incorrect. Highlighted in the game 2 write up of this series was the Nuggets inability to stop anyone defensively in the bubble without Gary Harris and Will Barton. This version of the Nuggets needs to outscore opponents to win, and can’t have any reliance on getting stops. I fail to see what’s changed leading up to game 3. Game 1 saw a competitive scoring explosion that landed on 260 points. And game 2 got to 230 despite the Jazz blow out win and the stars sitting out the last seven minutes of the game and all starters sitting the last four minutes. Right back to this well today with another over play as the Nuggets are simply not the same team we grew accustomed to prior to the bubble. 

Betting Play: Over 218.5

Thursday Betting Play

Los Angeles Lakers vs Portland Trail Blazers

9PM EST

Opening Line: Lakers -4.5 and 226.5
Current Line: Lakers -6.5 and 229

Leading up to the first game, I thought it was ludicrous to have the Blazers getting six points, and felt amazingly good about that play. It turned out correct as the Blazers were the better team in game 1, winning 100-93. There was a slight adjustment to the opening line in this one, albeit not nearly enough, and the public immediately took the line in the wrong direction again. The Lakers had very real issues scoring in that first game and that will be a trend in this series. It is difficult to believe the Lakers can solve this rubik’s cube by playing someone like Dion Waiters more to address scoring issues. On the other side, the Blazers guards were the difference, and let’s not get it twisted, the Blazers as a whole did not play all that well in game 1. The Blazers certainly didn’t shoot that well, making only 41% as a team and seeing their starting guards in lock step with that average. Now for the second game we are supposed to buy the Lakers not only can muster enough offense to win, but do so by nearly double digits. I’m surely not buying it and I believe the sticker shock of an 8 seed potentially/probably beating a 1 seed has not worn off yet for the general public. Right back to the Blazers tonight. 

Betting Play: Trail Blazers +6.5

Best Sportsbooks For This Pick

New JerseyWilliam Hill square logoBet@William Hill
PennsylvaniaSugarHouse online casino square logoBet@SugarHouse
IndianaBetMGM white and gold logo on black backgroundBet@BetMGM
West VirginiaBetMGM white and gold logo on black backgroundBet@BetMGM
ColoradoBetMGM white and gold logo on black backgroundBet@BetMGM
IllinoisBetRivers square logoBet@BetRivers

Wednesday Betting Play

Utah Jazz vs Denver Nuggets

4PM EST

Opening Line: Nuggets -4 and 218.5
Current Line: Nuggets -4 and 217.5

I truly thought I was going to be able to do the simplest thing, and that would be to tout the Celtics in every game of their series against the 76ers, and we would all take that easy profit together. It wasn’t to be, as the Celtics lost Gordon Hayward, possibly for the season in Game 1, and that truly dings the advantage they held over the Simmons-less 76ers. With that being the case, we looked for a different play today, and we have an incorrect line to attack. While the Nuggets and Jazz are not generally high paced teams, their performance in the bubble is somewhat similar. Namely, they are playing poor defense and scoring efficiently enough to keep games competitive. The Nuggets are the more guilty party of the two, but they are also the better team as the Jazz remain without Bogdanovich and now Conley as well. The Nuggets will continue to be a poor defensive unit as long as they are without Harris and Barton, and the high scoring outputs are something of a foregone conclusion to continue. The Nuggets are allowing 123 points per game in the bubble, which includes their 135-125 win in Game 1. They’ve allowed fewer than 124 points just twice in the bubble and have allowed at least 113 in every single game. The Jazz are a bit more mild, but are allowing 119 per contest in the bubble and I think the oddsmakers are going to have to adjust the totals on this series if and when we get another figure over 240 today. Take the over 217.5 on two teams that are turnstiles on the defensive end. 

Betting Play: Over 217.5

Best Sportsbooks For This Pick

New JerseyWilliam Hill square logoBet@William Hill
PennsylvaniaSugarHouse online casino square logoBet@SugarHouse
IndianaBetMGM white and gold logo on black backgroundBet@BetMGM
West VirginiaBetMGM white and gold logo on black backgroundBet@BetMGM
ColoradoBetMGM white and gold logo on black backgroundBet@BetMGM
IllinoisBetRivers square logoBet@BetRivers

We’ve finally reached the playoffs portion of this NBA season. It is a welcome change, as attempting to win has not been the goal for many of the teams in the bubble in many of the final regular season contests. The playoffs now bring us clarity, and motivation to win from the teams, so let’s get back to our winning ways to close the season out. 

We closed out the regular season with a 73-57 record. It became apparent we needed a breather until playoffs after our last regular season play pulled the starters from the game at halftime with a 16 point lead, only to lose the game outright. Playoff hoops should guarantee effort if nothing else form the coaching staffs and players. 

Monday Review

The Celtics allowed the 76ers to play a close game in this one, and were actually trailing after three quarters. Losing Gordon Hayward in game to a sprained ankle certainly worked against them as well. No matter, the Celtics owned the fourth quarter and walked away with an eight point win and cover. This play was not without a sweat, as will often be the case in these neutral court games, but we kick off the playoffs with the W. 

The win brings our playoff record to 1-0 and full season record to 74-57

Tuesday Play

Los Angeles Lakers vs Portland Trail Blazers

9PM EST

Opening Line: Lakers -5 and 228
Current Line: Lakers -6 and 230

Betting Play: Blazers +6

Simply put, it is being undersold as to how much of a nightmare this draw is for the Lakers. There was a narrative that the 1 seeds would be at a disadvantage because they didn’t know who they would be playing during the play in portion of the postseason tournament. While that argument might hold some water, the truly ugly outcome for the Lakers was upon finding out that their opponent in the first round would be the Blazers. The Blazers with Nurkic back, have been an absolute offensive juggernaut in the bubble. They have averaged 126 points per game (3.5 more than second best Dallas) but have played at a bottom seven level of pace. If you’re thinking this means they have been wildly efficient at the offensive end, you would be completely correct, as they’ve been the most efficient offensive team in the bubble. The Blazers  record reflects their play as well. They are 6-2 in the bubble with the losses being by 4 and 5 points to the high end Celtics and Clippers. The Lakers bubble performance has been underwhelming to say the least. They were just 3-5 and have the feel of a team that believes they can just flip the switch now that the playoffs are upon us. Their numbers are just wildly different than those of the full season, so we are on the verge of seeing a massive adjustment or, perhaps even more likely, seeing a 1 seed unceremoniously bounced. I have a difficult time envisioning any outcome in which the Lakers run away with this game, and getting the Blazers with 6 is perhaps the most attractive play we will get this entire postseason. The Blazers series price of +375 is attractive as well, but be sure to take this extremely live dog today. 

Betting Play: Blazers +6

Best Sportsbooks For This Pick

New JerseyWilliam Hill square logoBet@William Hill
PennsylvaniaSugarHouse online casino square logoBet@SugarHouse
IndianaBetMGM white and gold logo on black backgroundBet@BetMGM
West VirginiaBetMGM white and gold logo on black backgroundBet@BetMGM
ColoradoBetMGM white and gold logo on black backgroundBet@BetMGM
IllinoisBetRivers square logoBet@BetRivers

Monday Play

Boston Celtics vs Philadelphia 76ers

630PM EST

Opening Line: Celtics -4 and 220.5
Current Line: Celtics -5.5 and 218.5

In any event, the Celtics were going to be the every game and series favorite against the 76ers. The stroke of bad luck that has hit for the 76ers is now losing Ben Simmons to a knee injury, almost certainly for the duration of the playoffs. This simply widens the gap and it is truly a blow to the 76ers chances of keeping up with the much deeper Celtics, who are at full strength. The Celtics are quietly hot entering the playoffs. They sat their starters for the regular season finale, which they lost, but were quite dangerous leading up to that contest. The previous four games were all wins with a total point differential of +74, or an average winning margin of 18.5 per game. On the 76ers side, while they have been efficient offensively, they have been a mess on the defensive side of things, and likely playing at a pace faster than what suits them. The allowed at least 124 points in five of eight bubble games, while the Celtics allowed greater than 119 points just once in the bubble, against the dangerous Trail Blazers. This sets up to be a series sweep, and I’ll be looking for any reason not to take the Celtics in every game. The 76ers sans Simmons are simply outgunned in this matchup. 

Betting Play: Celtics -5.5

Best Sportsbooks For This Pick

New JerseyWilliam Hill square logoBet@William Hill
PennsylvaniaSugarHouse online casino square logoBet@SugarHouse
IndianaBetMGM white and gold logo on black backgroundBet@BetMGM
West VirginiaBetMGM white and gold logo on black backgroundBet@BetMGM
ColoradoBetMGM white and gold logo on black backgroundBet@BetMGM
IllinoisBetRivers square logoBet@BetRivers

NBA predictions at ussportsbonus.com

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