Time for NBA dogs to bark in East

It’s about to get exciting for fans and bettors in the Eastern half of the NBA playoff brackets. Point spreads in both Thursday night’s Toronto/Philadelphia game and Friday night’s Milwaukee/Boston game will likely close within a bucket of pick-em. That after surprising splits on the home courts of pre-series favorites.

  • #1 seed Milwaukee lost its series opener to Boston 112-90 as an 8-point favorite, missing the market by 30 points. 
  • #2 seed Toronto lost Game 2 to Philadelphia 94-89 as a favorite of -7.5 points, also a double-digit non-cover. 

You’ve probably noticed that these matchups are being priced in similar fashion. Pre-series favorites are around -8 at home, pick-em on the road. That’s why both Milwaukee and Toronto are still favored to advance. Each is about 73-74% to win each its last three home games (if needed), and within arm’s reach of 50/50 to win each of three possible road games. 

From a “current position” of one win apiece, each still has the better chance to reach four wins than Philadelphia or Boston in that mathematical framework.  

What must the series underdogs do to outperform the market?

  • For Philadelphia, strong inside defense is a key. The Sixers lost their opener 108-95 while allowing Toronto to win two-point shooting percentage 62% to 42%. Philadelphia won the category 49% to 43% in its victory. The Sixers are likely to win rebounding most nights, already leading that stat 100-76 through two games. Force misses and grab the rebound…that’s a recipe for Sixers success as long as the offense holds up its end of the bargain. 
  • For Boston, the defense must protect the rim and the arc. Sunday’s shocker was a defensive gem, as the Celtics held the Bucks to just 36% on two-point baskets. Giannis Antetokounmpo was lost in space, and in traffic. 

Tuesday’s turnaround was keyed by Milwaukee shooting better inside while making a stunning 20 three pointers. You can’t win in the NBA when your opponent makes 20 three pointers!

Obviously, if defense is a key for both series dogs, sharp bettors will be thinking about betting Under in these matchups as well. If you haven’t been paying attention to that angle…

  • Game 1 of Philadelphia/Toronto stayed Under the market total of 223.5 by 20.5 points.
  • Game 2 of Philadelphia/Toronto stayed Under the market total of 219.5 by 36.5 points.
  • Game 1 of Boston/Milwaukee stayed Under the market total of 223.5 by 21.5 points.
  • Game 2 of Boston/Milwaukee went Over the market total of 219.5 by 5.5 points because the teams combined to shoot 30 of 75 on treys! That’s an impressive 40% at extreme volume, which is unlikely to repeat multiple times the rest of the way. 

Clearly Over/Unders are tracking each other in these matchups as well, with scoreboard results showing little interest in cooperating. Will defensive mindset and game paces stay the same with site switches?

Outsmart the market and you’ll make some money through the weekend. 

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