NBA betting market report: Daily picks, advice for Saturday 5/7

By Jonathan Von Tobel  (Senior NBA Analyst) 

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Welcome to the daily NBA betting market report, your source for analysis on the betting lines for the day in professional hoops. For updates throughout the day follow me on Twitter, or check out The Edge daily at 4 p.m. ET / 1 p.m. PT.

All game lines via VSiN NBA Odds page.

Market Report for Saturday, May 7th

*Lines are opening numbers

Boston Celtics at Milwaukee Bucks (-3, 213)

Game 3: Series tied 1-1

The first two games of this series have been somewhat uneventful, as each team has grabbed a comfortable double-digit victory. However, there is one constant through two games that should be focused on as we head into Game 3 today: Milwaukee cannot score. Through two games the Bucks have averaged 100.5 points per 100 possessions in non-garbage time minutes, and that is not the result of one poor showing in Game 2 as they put up just 1.031 per possession in their series opening win. Giannis Antetokounmpo has averaged 26.0 points through two games, but on 38.4% shooting from the floor and committing 5.5 turnovers per game. Boston’s defense is uniquely equipped to handle a player of Antetokounmpo’s stature with players like Grant Williams and Al Horford, and the rest of the team did a brilliant job on the pieces around the two-time MVP. For yet another series it seems this Celtics defense can muffle the opposition’s best weapon, as much as one can muffle the world’s best basketball player, and it has them in good position here today. Especially with this year’s Defensive Player of the Year in Marcus Smart set to return.

On the other end of the floor Boston took advantage of Milwaukee’s penchant for allowing perimeter shots in Game 2 by hitting 20-of-42 attempts in non-garbage time. We should expect that this going to be a large part of the gameplan for the Celtics going forward if the Bucks are going to employ drop coverage as their primary defensive scheme. Having said that, it’s not all positive for Boston on the offensive end of the floor. Through two games the Celtics have gone 20-of-37 (54.5%) in the restricted area and have been outscored 88-44 in the paint. If those perimeter shots are not falling for Boston it’s going to be a problem for this offense, as it has yet to crack this interior defense in two games of this series. That’s also led to an abysmal free throw rate of 16.4 which is the second worst of the teams still alive in the conference semifinals. 

With all of this in mind I still believe in Boston here, and so does the market. The line is down to 1.5 at almost every shop and if you watched The Edge this week, you’re sitting on Celtics + 3 today. Homecourt is inching closer and closer to being worth a full three points, and a line of Milwaukee -3 would mean these two teams are equal on a neutral court. That cannot be the case with the absence of Khris Middleton, so it made Boston the play here today and the market agreed with that sentiment. There will be no play for the column as this number has moved too much to be playable on the side. As far as the total is concerned, I would tend to agree with the market moving toward the Under here. Both teams have shown an ability to defend the other at a high level and this series has been somewhat slow at 96.5 possessions per game.

Memphis Grizzlies at Golden State Warriors (-6.5, 226.5)

Game 3: Series tied 1-1

This has been the best series of all the conference semifinals, and both teams come into today feeling like they missed an opportunity to have a 2-0 lead. Even so, Golden State enters this contest with a great opportunity to take control of a series they now have homecourt in, but their stars must put forth a better effort than the ones in Memphis. Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson combined to go 30-of-83 (36.1%) from the floor and 13-of-45 (28.9%) from beyond the arc in the first two games of the series. One would assume that with the series back in San Francisco the two would see a boost to their efficiency from the floor which would be a boon for the Warriors which put up just 1.063 points per possession and was outscored by 2.0 points per 100 possessions by the Grizzlies. Golden State must also figure out how to handle Ja Morant without Gary Payton II who was ruled out for a month with a fractured elbow.

Morant has terrorized Golden State’s defense in this series. He’s scored 81 points on 46.7% shooting from the floor, and he’s done so by picking on the likes of Curry and Jordan Poole on defense. Without Payton in the last game, it was Andrew Wiggins who drew the defensive assignment on Morant, and while he put forth a good effort it did nothing to deter Morant. How the Warriors adjust this matchup is going to go a long way toward deciding who wins this game and this series, but Golden State did improve its defensive effort on Morant’s teammates in the last contest. Other Grizzlies not named Morant combined to go 21-of-60 (35.0%) from the floor with 12 turnovers in Game 2. Golden State also contained Memphis’ transition attack in that game, limiting them to 1.091 points per play in a fast-paced affair. If they can limit the others and somehow find a way to keep Morant from going nuclear, they have a path toward victory here today.

Having said that, this number seems somewhat high after what we’ve seen in the first two games. It is eerily similar to the position Memphis was in against Minnesota, where the market was somewhat high on them despite competitive efforts from the Timberwolves on a nightly basis. If Curry and Thompson show up there is certainly a good chance, they cover a number like this, but to ask this team to win by eight points when it needed a missed Morant layup at the gun in Game 1 just to win that game seems like too much. If anything, I would look Over the total here. The answer to Morant is likely not there, and should we get the expected turnaround from the Splash Brothers then this could take on the look of a high-scoring affair, much like the first game in the series.

Best Bet Summary

None

Season Record: 92-75-2

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