Welcome to your source of daily analysis of the NBA Playoffs! Here we will break down each game, discuss betting angles, give predictions and more. For more discussion make sure to check out our daily NBA betting podcast: Hardwood Handicappers.
Also make sure to use each one of our betting tools at the disposal of VSiN Pro subscribers!
NBA Injury Report
NBA Betting Splits
NBA Prop Analyzer
Game 2: Celtics lead series 1-0
The first game in this series was an odd one in which neither team played a consistent four quarters. Tonight, more consistent performances from both teams should lead to a well-played game that should be more aesthetically pleasing for basketball fans and over bettors.
On Saturday, the betting market bet this total up to 231.5 at close, but after four disjointed quarters the game had just 211 total points scored. One would think that if a game total was off by 20 points it warrants an adjustment, and oddsmakers made one by opening this total two points lower than the opening number for the first game. However, there are plenty of indicators that should make anyone who bet that game over ready to jump back in today.
First, the 3-point shooting should be much more even this time around. Atlanta missed its first nine attempts from beyond the arc, went 1-for-15 on its first 15 shots from deep and ended up hitting just 17.2% of 3-point attempts. Boston started the game much better than that and shot 56.3% from deep in the first half, but hit just 23.5% of its 3-point shots in the second half. In all, the teams combined to shoot 18-of-62 from beyond the arc in the game, and that is a figure that should regress to the mean in this game tonight.
Second, that game did have the pace needed to get that total over, and that should be the same tonight. Game 1 had 102 total possessions for each team, according to Cleaning The Glass. Atlanta ranked sixth in pace during the regular season at 101.56 possessions per game, and while Boston was much slower at 99.15 per game, it did show a willingness to match the pace on Saturday.
More importantly, the Hawks should not have an answer for the Celtics’ offense. Boston averaged 1.34 points per possession in the first half of Game 1, and when the shooting fell off its offense fell off. With a more even shooting performance that should bring with it a more consistent offensive output. The same can be said for Atlanta, which had one of the best offensive ratings in non-garbage time under Quin Snyder to end the regular season.
I’m usually a proponent of spreads and totals being somewhat static throughout a series if there is no major injury. The total closed 231.5 on Saturday, and this adjustment is not warranted given the improvement in efficiency we should expect tonight.
Bet: OVER 229.5
Game 2: Knicks lead series 1-0
When evaluating a series game-to-game the most important step is to weed out the randomness of the previous contest in order to find out what was sustainable by the winning team and what wasn’t. A quick glance at Game 1 one of this series does not show much random luck for New York, but advanced box scores can paint a different picture.
The Knicks’ biggest edge in the first game of this series was the offense generated off turnover. They only forced a turnover on 14.9% of the Cavaliers’ offensive possessions, but they had a high rate off success on offense off those turnovers. According to Cleaning The Glass, New York averaged 2.0 points per play in transition off steals which added 7.8 points per 100 possessions to their offensive rating. In what ultimately became 101-97 final statistics like that can make the difference, but that is clearly not sustainable.
Having said that, there are quite a few things that could be sustainable for the Knickerbockers going forward. They finished the regular season as the second best offensive rebounding team in the league (30.8%) and that showed up in a big way on Saturday. New York grabbed 42.3% of their missed shot attempts and generated a high volume of second chance opportunities. Cleveland ended the regular season 20th in defensive rebounding rate, and could likely struggle to contain the rebounding efforts of the Knicks throughout this series.
The other sustainable aspect of New York’s win over the weekend was the dominance of their bench. The Knicks’ bench outscored the Cavaliers’ bench 37-14 on Saturday. In the four regular season games New York bench players won every game, and outscored Cleveland’s bench by an average of 8.4 points per game. The minutes in which Donovan Mitchell sat the Cavaliers were -6 and that could be a problem yet again tonight.
The zig-zag theory is a popular one in NBA playoff betting, but there are dangers in willingly laying an inflated number because a team lost the previous contest. Just look at last night, where the market was all-in on the zig-zag for Golden State and got burned. This number is 5.5 at multiple shops this morning, but with Randle in the lineup this number should be about 4.5 instead.
Game 2: Clippers lead series 1-0
The market is on the zig-zag here as well, and as someone who believes the market was already too high on Phoenix coming into the series I believe this number is too high once again.
Los Angeles does have real strengths it can lean on in the series, and the biggest one is basic math. The Clippers take a higher rate of 3-point attempts than the Suns, and it is by a wide margin. On Sunday, Los Angeles took 12 more shots from beyond the arc and made five more, giving them a 15-point advantage in 3-point shooting alone. The Clippers did not even shoot the ball particularly well (33.3%), and on average night they will have the advantage in this category more often than not.
There is also an issue with Phoenix's depth. Their starting lineup on Sunday was +10 in 21 minutes on the floor, but the rest of their lineups were -15 for the game. Monty Williams is still trying to figure out his bench rotations, and that led to swapping of backup centers throughout the game, and some very poor lineups. Meanwhile, Los Angeles was able to post a +7.1 net rating in the minutes without Kawhi Leonard on the floor.
There will be no bet for the column, as I like to lean on my series bets more than bet game-to-game, and I am in a good position to start this series. However, I do see value in this number for the Clippers much like there was value in them for the first game in this series.
Best Bet Recap
Hawks/Celtics OVER 229.5