Betting preview for Thursday's NBA playoff games

© USA Today Sports Images

We had some pretty surprising results on Tuesday, and the market has made adjustments on those games. Did the market overadjust in some instances?

In this column, we'll give an analytical preview of a few of the day's top games and give game notes on the rest to help bettors with their wagers.

Top games

Oklahoma City Thunder at Houston Rockets (-2.5, 226)

The market has clearly learned from its mistake of overreacting to the Russell Westbrook injury, and made an adjustment on the side for Game 2 of this series. Oklahoma City, which opened as a 1.5-point favorite for Game 1, is now catching 2.5 points for Game 2 after getting blown out on Tuesday. Is this an overadjustment due to the result?

The Thunder are up against it in this matchup, even with Westbrook out. Their three-guard lineup is somewhat negated by a team made up of wings who will switch almost everything on defense, and their lack scoring depth, outside of Dennis Schroder, is magnified when other are not scoring. Luguentz Dort’s absence doesn't help either, as he was expected to be the primary defender against James Harden. I still think this number should be Houston -1 or -1.5 without Westbrook, so there’s some slight value on another extreme line change.

Lean: Thunder (+2.5)

Injury report

Oklahoma City

Luguentz Dort, Knee (Out)

Houston Rockets

Russell Westbrook, Quad (Out)

Luc Mbah a Moute, Knee (Out)

Portland Trail Blazers at Los Angeles Lakers (-6.5, 228.5)

The loss for Los Angeles in Game 1 was all about its putrid offense more than anything else. It's important that bettors realize the Lakers did their job defensively, containing the bubble’s best offense (averaging 122.5 points every 100 possessions), to a 97.1 offensive rating on Monday. Portland shot just 39.2 percent from the floor and a combined 18-of-45 (40.0 percent) inside the arc. If the Lakers can generate some offense from their role players, they will be fine.

Can they, though? According to the NBA’s tracking data, 27 of the Lakers’ 35 attempts from deep were considered open or wide open; they hit just two of their 16 wide open attempts. That obviously can't happen, and the likes of Kentavious Caldwell-Pope will likely not go 0-for-5 from 3-point range again. If the shooting evens out, Los Angeles should be able to recover from a straight-up perspective.

Lean: Lakers ML (-270)

Injury report

Portland Trail Blazers

CJ McCollum, Back (Available)

Zach Collins, Ankle (Out)

Nassir Little, Dehydration (Out)

Los Angeles Lakers

Anthony Davis, Knee (Probable)

LeBron James, Groin (Probable)

Rajon Rondo, Hand (Questionable)

Thursday’s game notes

Miami Heat (-4, 215.5) at Indiana Pacers

  • In five games against Miami this season, Indiana is shooting just 38.9 percent from mid-range. This is an offense that ranked in the top five in both frequency and shooting from that area of the floor.
  • The pace of Game 1 (92.1) was extremely slow, and the game went under the total. The total is almost two points lower (214.5) for Game 2.
  • Outside of T.J. Warren, Pacers starters combined to go 2-for-12 from beyond the arc against Miami on Tuesday.

Injury report

Miami Heat

Jae Crowder, Ankle (Questionable)

KZ Okpala, Personal (Out)

Gabe Vincent, Shoulder (Out)

Indiana Pacers

Victor Oladipo, Eye (Questionable)

Jeremy Lamb, Knee (Out)

Domantas Sabonis, Foot (Out)

Orlando Magic at Milwaukee Bucks (-13, 226.5)

  • Is Orlando’s shooting sustainable? The Magic shot 39.0 percent on 41 3-point attempts Tuesday, but just 34.3 percent on 32.2 attempts per game during the regular season.
  • Orlando went 13-of-19 (68.4 percent) within four feet of the basket. Milwaukee was the best defensive team at the rim this season, allowing 55.1 percent to opponents.
  • Milwaukee really blew it at the free-throw line in Game 1. They drew nine more trips to the charity stripe, but made the same amount of attempts as Orlando (19-19).

Injury report

Orlando Magic

Mo Bamba, Post-COVID-19 Eval (Out)

Michael Carter-Williams, Foot (Doubtful)

Aaron Gordon, Hamstring (Questionable)

Jonathan Issac, Knee (Out)

Milwaukee Bucks

Ersan Ilyasova, Elbow (Questionable)

back to news

Live On Air

Streaming Now: Sunday Bet Prep

play Watch Live radio Listen Live


Matt Youmans: Heat (+8.5) at Nuggets. View more picks.


The Lombardi Line: Both the Nuggets and Heat shot poorly in Game 1 of the NBA Finals - and the total is down five points in Game 2 (219.5 to 214.5). Consider betting the OVER if you expect any positive regression. View more tips.