It's been a half century since the Kansas City Chiefs won the Super Bowl. In fact, it's been 50 years since the Chiefs went to the Super Bowl. But Kansas City is favored to get there this year. The Chiefs go into the AFC Championship Game as 7.5-point favorites over the Tennessee Titans. Meanwhile, the San Francisco 49ers are seven-point favorites over the Green Bay Packers in the NFC Championship Game.
Better Hard Court Betting Tips On Tuesday
NBA Playoff Game Day Betting Guidance
By Dan Favale
Is it reasonable to expect the Toronto Raptors to play better on offense than they did in Game 1? Absofreakinglutely. Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan won't combine to shoot 9-of-32 from the floor every night.
Or might they?
Obviously, no. But in the shorter term, we have to acknowledge that they haven't been great in the playoffs these last three years. They are prone to extended slumps, and when they aren't scoring the Raptors are in trouble. It looked like DeRozan might buck that trend early on in Game 1, but he inevitably started falling off, just like Lowry.
The issue is the Raptors rely far too much on one-on-one sets. Defenses are inherently harder to fool in the playoffs. You're dealing with more elite competition, and players in general are just plain more engaged.
Plus, the Milwaukee Bucks are long. Toronto doesn't have a counter for Giannis Antetokounmpo, and the defense of rookies Malcolm Brogdon and Thon Maker continue to catch people off guard.
You should fully expect the Raptors to win this one. They've responded well, collectively, to squandered postseason games in the past. But we didn't see any evidence in Game 1 to suggest they will cover a 7.5-point spread.
The Pick: Milwaukee Bucks (+7.5)
Isaiah Thomas performed magnificently on the offensive end in Game 1, carrying the Boston Celtics' scoring machine a mere day after his younger sister was killed in a car accident. He is expected to play once again in Game 2, and the Celtics need to capitalize on his admirable resilience.
But they also have to find a way to survive when he isn't on the floor. The offense bogged down to alarming levels of awful in Game 1 whenever he took a seat. They need Marcus Smart and Avery Bradley to step up as faciliators, while both Bradley and Jae Crowder have to knock down more of their three-pointers.
Al Horford must be more aggressive in looking for his shot, hunting defensive rebounds and setting physical screens as well. His hyper-balanced attack is valuable in any setting, but the Celtics lacked a certain edge in Game 1—especially whenever Horford was forced to play without Amir Johnson.
The Chicago Bulls aren't good. Let's get that out of the way. They scrapped past the Celtics by being more physical and generating more efficient one-on-one offense. There's a time and a place to change the trajectory of this series, but we haven't reached it. If the Celtics lose Game 2, start to panic. For now, trust that the better team, with the better head coach, finds a way to prevail.
The Pick: Boston Celtics (-7)
Picking this game shouldn't be as tough as it actually is.
Rudy Gobert is the Utah Jazz's best player, and he's a no-go for tonight. We should pick the Los Angeles Clippers without even thinking. But we know better. The Jazz battled their way to a victory in Game 1, getting inspired defensive efforts from Gordon Hayward and Joe Ingles, in addition to an astounding offensive effort from Joe Johnson.
Still, the expectation should be for the Clippers to win this game. They have more star power, and the Jazz won't be able to stamp out their offense each and every night.
As for who will cover the spread, this one feels like a coin toss. But home teams traditionally come out firing after losing Game 1 on their own turf. Utah should have a tougher time keeping pace with Los Angeles' offensive barrage in this one.
The Pick: Los Angeles Clippers (-8.5)
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