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Game 5: Celtics lead series 3-1
There has been one constant throughout this entire series, and that has been the Boston offense. Through four games the Celtics are averaging 116.6 points per 100 possessions in non-garbage time while shooting 41.4% from 3-point range. In four games they have generated the highest frequency of wide-open attempts (27.9%) in the playoffs with the second highest effective field goal percentage (69.7%) on those attempts. That maintained itself on the road in Atlanta, and it should continue tonight back at home.
The Hawks have not been nearly as consistent in this series on offense. In the two games in Boston they averaged 101.0 points per 100 possessions in non-garbage time and shot just 27.6% from beyond the arc. Those are extreme figures which should be somewhat better, but it is hard to imagine much offensive success for Atlanta with Dejounte Murray suspended for this game.
Boston closed as 10-point favorites in Game 1 of this series and as 10.5-point favorites in Game 2 but both games had Atlanta at full strength. It is surprising that we’re looking at an identical line for this contest with a player of Murray’s calibur on the sidelines. The Celtics should close this out tonight, and there seems to be some line value on the home team.
Best Bet: Celtics (-10)
Game 5: Nuggets lead series 3-1
Minnesota did its best to give away Game 4 on Sunday night, but Anthony Edwards extended the series with a fantastic performance. However, it does seem that the win for the Timberwolves was just delaying the inevitable, with the Nuggets being more than happy to close this series out at home.
Denver has outscored Minnesota by 9.4 points per 100 possessions in non-garbage time in this series, and much of that has been done by its offense. The Nuggets 118.4 offensive rating in non-garbage time in this series is the second best rating in the postseason. Surprisingly, it has been the minutes with Nikola Jokic on the bench that have made the biggest difference. According to Cleaning The Glass, the Timberwolves have a -26.1 net rating when Jokic is off the floor. Minnesota is averaging only 0.88 points per possession in those minutes, and while that is an extreme offensive rating which should be better with a larger sample size, it does illustrate how thin their bench is.
The Nuggets are clearly the better team, and they should also close this out tonight. However, we’re seeing a line which is a point higher than the closing lines for the first two games in Denver. There is no reason to upgrade the Nuggets’ rating because they are at home in a close-out game, so despite the edges I lean toward the underdog.
Lean: Timberwolves (+10)
Game 5: Suns lead series 3-1
Kawhi Leonard is out once more, and now that the venue has changed it's hard to see a valiant effort from Los Angeles that extends this series. The Clippers have been running on fumes, with Russell Westbrook putting for a herculean effort over the last two games, but if his efficiency dips on the road then it's curtains for the road team.
Westbrook has averaged 31.7 points, 6.3 rebounds and 7.0 assists over the last three games, but it is extremely unlikely that he will be able to replicate that level of production on the road. If that is the case Los Angeles is cooked. Nicolas Batum has been non-existent in this series with an average of 0.8 points on 11.1% shooting from the floor. Eric Gordon is shooting just 36.0% from beyond the arc, and increased minutes for Marcus Morris have done nothing to help the Clippers.
The way this game is called will also go a long way toward deciding the outcome. Los Angeles has been unable to defend a jump-shooting team like Phoenix without fouling. In the two games at The Crypt the Suns got to the free throw line 73 times compared to the the 35 times for the Clippers. This is despite the fact that Los Angeles has taken nearly double the attempts at the rim (111) than Phoenix (65). If the Clippers can get to the free throw line with more consistency, and the role players begin to find their shot, then this series can be extended, but that is a lot to ask for a team missing its best player.
Since Westbrook has been performing as well as he has the betting market has had to make a strong adjustment on his props across the board. For today, his points, rebounds and assists prop is 42.5 at DraftKings. That is a number right in line with what he has been averaging, shaded a few points higher. It’s a good number to go under on, especially in a road environment.
Best Bet: Russell Westbrook PTS+REB+AST UNDER 42.5 (-120)