Another day, another shocker in the Eastern brackets of the NBA Playoffs. Miami bounces back strong to beat Philadelphia 113-103. Now, huge pre-series favorites Cleveland (-700) and Philadelphia (-550) have both forfeited home-court advantage just two games into the first round.
NBA stunner: Philadelphia ill-prepared for motivated Miami’s bounce back intensity
Looks like the players on the Philadelphia 76ers spent too much time reading their press clippings, and not enough time preparing for the reality that they wouldn’t shoot 18 of 28 again on three-pointers.
Miami (plus 6.5) 113, Philadelphia 103
2-point Pct: Miami 53%, Philadelphia 55%
3-pointers: Miami 9/25, Philadelphia 7/35
Free Throws: Miami 24/30, Philadelphia 16/22
Rebounds: Miami 46, Philadelphia 49
Turnovers: Miami 16, Philadelphia 14
In both games of this series, Miami jumped to an early lead. You got the sense Philadelphia wasn’t worried when down double digits in the second quarter Monday because it had stormed back so easily Saturday. The Sixers should have been worried. Instead of winning the second half 74-43, they could only manage 61-57, barely shrinking a 56-42 halftime deficit despite a fourth-quarter flurry that got as close as 98-96 with 4:29 to go. Miami would score 10 of the next 12 points to seal the upset.
Philadelphia’s complacency shows up in the box score on defense (allowing 53% on two-pointers while also sending Miami to the line for 30 free-throw attempts) and long-range shooting (11 fewer makes than in Game 1 on seven additional attempts).
You can expect lines near pick-em in the next two games by South Beach. Very tough for the lesser team in a series to sweep two straight coin flips. So, odds do favor Philadelphia regaining home court before the series returns north. (Quick example: a team that’s 55% to win each of two individual consecutive games is only 30% to sweep them, as .55 times .55 is .3025.)
Game 3 is scheduled for Thursday in Miami. Let’s take a look at the three games scheduled for Tuesday in Toronto, Boston, and Portland.
NBA Preview: Will Toronto fall flat NOW that the series opening monkey is off its back?
Toronto finally impressed out of the gate in a playoff series, which raises the obvious question…are they going to fall flat NOW that all that Game 1 pressure is off? Before talking about that issue, let’s run our key indicator stats for the series.
Washington at Toronto (7 p.m. ET on NBA Network, Toronto leads series 1-0)
Washington: 9.9 made treys/game, #14 offense, #15 defense, #13 rebounding
Toronto: 11.8 made treys/game, #3 offense, #5 defense, #8 rebounding
Toronto is dominant across the board. The Raptors start out about six points ahead in each game because their likely to make two more treys. That’s part of a big edge in offensive efficiency. You can see that Toronto is also way ahead on defense and rebounding. The host has the profile of a champion. The visitor is a league average team that has actually performed more impressively recently when All-Star John Wall was out of the lineup with an injury. Chemistry issues for sure. Which Wall didn’t help in Game 1 on Saturday when he forced up too many bad shots inside the arc in an eight-point loss.
Toronto (-7.5) 114, Washington 106
2-point Pct: Washington 51%, Toronto 53%
3-pointers: Washington 8/21, Toronto 16/30
Free Throws: Washington 16/18, Toronto 16/20
Rebounds: Washington 35, Toronto 38
Turnovers: Washington 13, Toronto 17
Wall was 3 of 15 on two-pointers, while his teammates were 30 of 50 for 60% inside the arc. We don’t want to suggest Wall was hyper-selfish. He did have 15 assists. But he was still forcing up shots he shouldn’t have been when it mattered most.
If you’ve studied box scores for many years, one of the clear tendencies for poor chemistry is soft defense. Players lose the heart to guard when they’re not getting along. Toronto was able to make more than half of their looks both in front of and behind the arc against Washington Saturday. Cheating for steals did work occasionally (hence the 17 Toronto turnovers). But too many open looks were given away after failed gambles.
It’s impossible to know for sure whether Toronto will be flat Tuesday night. What’s clear is that the Raptors are better than the Wizards at everything that matters. They could be flat and still win outright. Or, the big game from long range could regress, only to see Toronto’s regular season “defense and rebounding” edge step more to the forefront.
As of Monday evening, Toronto was -6.5 with a total of 215 in this Tuesday tilt.
NBA Preview: Neither Milwaukee nor Boston looked like playoff material in overtime opener
Sunday’s Milwaukee/Boston game might have seemed thrilling on paper, with Boston taking a 1-0 series lead with a 113-107 overtime victory. It was ugly to watch most of the way, with poor shooting from Boston inside the arc, and relentless turnovers from the Milwaukee offense. Does either of these teams have what it takes to scare opponents deeper in the brackets?
Milwaukee at Boston (8 p.m. ET on TNT, Boston leads series 1-0)
Milwau.: 8.8 made treys/game, #7 offense, #17 defense, #27 rebounding
Boston: 11.5 made treys/game, #18 offense, #1 defense, #13 rebounding
Doesn’t look like it! Both have clear strengths. Milwaukee is tough to guard with the Greek Freak attacking the basket. Boston had the best defensive efficiency in the NBA. But you can see that the Bucks aren’t impressive at the fundamentals, while the Celtics don’t have enough scorers when Kyrie Irving isn’t healthy enough to play.
Boston (-3.5) 113, Milwaukee 107 (in overtime)
Regulation Score: Milwaukee 99, Boston 99
2-point Pct: Milwaukee 52%, Boston 41%
3-pointers: Milwaukee 8/21, Boston 11/26
Free Throws: Milwaukee 19/24, Boston 24/27
Rebounds: Milwaukee 42, Boston 45
Turnovers: Milwaukee 20, Boston 15
Boston couldn’t shoot inside, but did make enough three-pointers and free throws to approach the century mark in regulation despite below average pace. Milwaukee flew at the rim, but lost the ball 20 times in the process. A compelling series in its own way…but it’s not “a beautiful game” with these lineups.
Boston is currently -2.5, with a total of 197 Tuesday, down from -3.5 and 199 on Sunday. Many bettors like betting the Game 1 loser with points in what looks like it’s going to be a competitive series. Boston didn’t establish superiority in regulation the other day. The price adjustment affects those realities.
NBA Preview: Portland already in a must-win spot after losing series opener at home
As expected, a showcase of young superstars in the tightly contested opener. Too bad it was in the late-night TV spot this past Saturday. The East Coast didn’t stay up for it. Given that both of these teams were off the media radar this past season, be sure you pay close attention to these team profiles.
New Orleans at Portland (10:30 p.m. on TNT, New Orleans leads series 1-0)
N. Orle.: 10.2 made treys/game, #8 offense, #12 defense, #20 rebounding
Portland: 10.3 made treys/game, #16 offense, #8 defense, #4 rebounding
Very evenly matched behind the arc. The “Holy Trey-nity” stats we were playing around with last week showed New Orleans ranking #18, #13, and #20 in makes, percentage, and emphasis on treys. Portland ranked #16, #11, and #18. Virtual clones all things considered. Casual fans assume that New Orleans must be a great “defense and rebounding” team because the athleticism of Anthony Davis suggests he should crush in those categories. The team as a whole doesn’t! Below average rebounding and only slightly better than average on defense. In this series, it’s Portland that has the “defense and rebounding” chops. New Orleans is better at attacking the rim to earn points.
New Orleans (plus 5.5) 97, Portland 95
2-point Pct: New Orleans 53%, Portland 42%
3-pointers: New Orleans 8/24, Portland 12/39
Free Throws: New Orleans 7/10, Portland 9/12
Rebounds: New Orleans 49, Portland 52
Turnovers: New Orleans 14, Portland 12
Check that out. New Orleans won a nail biter despite getting outscored from long range. The Pelicans won scoring on “1’s and 2’s” by a count of 73-59. Neither team earned many free throws. Portland won made two-pointers 33-25.
Or, focusing on the young superstars, Anthony Davis was 14 of 24 on two-pointers for the winning visitors, Damian Lillard was 2 of 14 on two-pointers for the losing hosts.
Portland is -6.5 and 214 Tuesday, with sports books guarding against all the “bounce back” money on the favorite. That might be a tempting bet. It could cash. But we have to say that the stat profiles can’t come anywhere near justifying that price. Improvement from Lillard should at least key a straight up victory. Is Anthony Davis going to phone it in?
NHL Tuesday Previews: Columbus and Winnipeg go for third wins, then Vegas Golden Knights go for the sweep
Just three games on the Tuesday night hockey schedule. The Columbus/Washington series is the last to play its third game. We’ll start with that one as we go in Nevada Rotation order…
Washington at Columbus (7:30 p.m. ET on NBC Sports, Columbus leads 2-0)
Game 1: Columbus (plus 130) 4, Washington 3 in OT (Shots: Wash 30-27)
Game 2: Columbus (plus 140) 5, Washington 4 in OT (Shots: Wash 58-30)
Washington has been known to underachieve in the playoffs. But digging a hole THIS deep THIS fast sure wasn’t expected in this series. The Capitals were -130 to advance back before it started, then -150 and -160 on home ice. Columbus had to go overtime to get both of those wins. The second one seems like a minor miracle given that absurd shot count. Washington brought everything but the kitchen sink…then tried the kitchen sink…and all it got them was a 2-0 series deficit with the next two games in hostile territory.
The market has made a fairly standard line flip here at the new site. Columbus is -140 with a total of 5.5. Not much action yet on the must-win visitor. Or, oddsmakers are happy to take a position against the pre-series favorite playing under a cloud.
Winnipeg at Minnesota (8 p.m. ET on CNBC, Winnipeg leads 2-1)
Game 1: Winnipeg (-200) 3, Minnesota 2 (Shots: Winnipeg 40-20)
Game 2: Winnipeg (-200) 4, Minnesota 1 (Shots: Winnipeg 43-17)
Game 3: Minnesota (even) 6, Winnipeg 2 (Shots: Winnipeg 31-29)
Longtime handicappers recognize this kind of situation. The motivated upstart excites the home crowd with a Game 3 win…just before the huge pre-series favorite (Winnipeg was -240 to advance) bounces back to restore order. Winnipeg has a huge edge in shots on goal, 114-66 through three games. Should THAT team only be pick-em (total of 5.5 Under -120) in his historically sound spot? Granting that home ice appears to be worth more in this series than the others…those shot counts are tough to ignore.
Vegas Golden Knights at Los Angeles (10:30 p.m. ET on NBC Sports, Vegas leads 3-0)
Game 1: Vegas (-145) 1, Los Angeles 0 (Shots: LA 30-28)
Game 2: Vegas (-160) 2, Los Angeles 1 in OT (Shots: Vegas 56-30)
Game 3: Vegas (plus 130) 3, Los Angeles 2 (Shots: LA 39-26)
Might be all up to mindset of Los Angeles. Tough to bounce back from a home loss where you won shots on goal 39-26 but fell behind 3-0 in the series anyway to the sport’s hot new thing. Either the Kings go all out to avoid the sweep…or what was left of their fighting spirit is already contacting Uber for a ride to the golf course Wednesday morning.
The Kings are only -120 for Game 4, after laying -150 in that Game 3 loss. The Over/Under is 5 (Under -125), in a series where only four regulation goals were scored in the first eight periods. Vegas won the third period 3-1 the other night. If that’s the bough breaking, then Knights and Over might be an attractive combo. VGK was #5 in goals-scored-per-game this season. LA’s only strength is its defense.
Search still ongoing for Dave Malinsky
No updates yet on the status of frequent VSiN guest Dave Malinsky. You may have heard that the longtime sports betting writer was reported missing this past weekend by friends when he didn’t return from a planned hike at Mount Charleston.
Search and rescue teams were unable to search from the air Monday because of high winds. They had earlier located Malinsky’s car. Mount Charleston is located about 35 miles northwest of Las Vegas. Malinsky is an experienced hiker.
Dave’s friends are forming search parties to assist authorities. VSiN will keep you posted on any bulletins during our Tuesday broadcasts.
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