NBA Playoffs: Daily best bets, odds and predictions for Friday, April 21st

By Jonathan Von Tobel  (Senior NBA Analyst) 

April 21, 2023 10:48 AM


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.

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Boston Celtics (-5, 228.5) at Atlanta Hawks

Game 3: Celtics lead series 2-0

The betting market loves to jump on teams that are going back home after losing the first two games of a series on the road, and this might actually be the rare case that it could be the right way to approach it.

Atlanta had some terrible shooting luck in Boston in the first two games. The Hawks shot just 26.5% from beyond the arc on the road to begin this series, and according to the NBA tracking data they have hit just 7-of-40 (17.5%) uncontested 3-point attempts in this series. That is some awful luck when it comes to shooting, and perhaps with the familiar shooting backgrounds of home that reverts back to the mean.

Still, even if that correction takes place Atlanta must do something about Boston’s offense.

Through two games the Celtics have crushed the Hawks in multiple facets. Boston is shooting 41-of-58 (70.7%) at the rim while averaging 59.0 points in the paint per game. The Celtics are also 27-of-65 (41.5%) from beyond the arc in the series and shooting 48.4% on wide-open attempts. Perhaps a road environment cuts into those shooting numbers for Boston, but the domination in the paint should continue so there is little reason to think its efficiency on offense should drop.

In the first two games of the series the total has moved toward the over, but we’re not seeing much movement for this game. As of this morning the number is still 228 or 228.5 at most shops, but there are indications that this will start to move toward the over.

The line has gone from 231.5 at close for Game 1 to 228.5 for this game tonight. Boston continues to perform efficiently on offense against Atlanta with no real indication of extreme luck in any one category. On the other hand, the Hawks should benefit from playing at home, and those 3-point attempts should start to fall at a more consistent rate. They also play quicker at home (102.31 possessions per game), all of which should equate to an over tonight.

Best Bet: OVER 228

Cleveland Cavaliers at New York Knicks (-2, 211)

Game 3: Series tied 1-1

As is the case with every one of these games today, we have a change of venue in this series. What makes this case unique is that many believe New York is going to have an extremely strong homecourt advantage, and they face an opponent in Cleveland which went 20-21 SU/17-21-3 ATS away from home in the regular season. 

However, the Knicks’ homecourt has been greatly overvalued all season, leading to them going 19-20-2 ATS at Madison Square Garden. The move toward the Cavaliers this morning tells us that the betting market might buy more into the home team being somewhat overvalued in this spot.

On the court, this is all going to be about how Jalen Brunson responds after Cleveland altered its defensive gameplan for him in the last game. The Cavaliers consistently blitzed Brunson in pick-and-rolls, and that led to a disjointed 5-of-16 shooting performance for the Knicks’ point guard. For a team which does not share the ball well like New York, that led to a 96.5 offensive rating and a double-digit loss. More actions with Brunson off the ball should help get this offense going at home tonight.

I came into this series thinking the Knicks were slightly undervalued by the betting market, and there is no reason to jump off that train of thought through two games. There is a natural letdown for a team which wins Game 1 on the road, and coming back home against an opponent they match up well with New York should be able to grab a series lead tonight.

Lean: Knicks (-1.5)

Denver Nuggets (-2.5, 222.5) at Minnesota Timberwolves

Game 3: Nuggets lead series 2-0

Minnesota made it interesting for a quarter of play on Wednesday night, but Denver showed how big the gap between these teams really is with a win and eventual cover. Those who buy into the trend of teams that lose the first two games on the road being live in the first half can convince themselves that the Timberwolves are live here, but there is little value in that trend.

Minnesota does deserve some credit though, as it shifted its offensive philosophy for the second game and started to show out in transition. According to Cleaning The Glass, the Timberwolves had 38.5% of their live ball rebounds lead to a transition play, and in those instances they averaged 1.60 points per play. That is one of the Nuggets’ biggest weaknesses, and they showed an ability to take advantage of it.

Anthony Edwards finally showed up as well with 41 points on 14-of-23 shooting from the floor, and his performance proved that Denver has few defensive options for him. If Edwards can continue to force that mismatch then Minnesota could be able to grab a win at home to extend this series. That would mean Karl-Anthony Towns shows up as well though, and we have yet to see that in the series, as he is averaging just 10.5 points on 29.6% shooting from the floor.

The market really shades these game situations in favor of the home team because of impending action, and we’re starting to see that shape the market. The hook has disappeared at a vast majority of shops, and the total is slowly creeping up. I usually like to push back on those trends which have already been accounted for by the betting market.

Lean: Nuggets (-2)

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