Monday NBA Betting Action
By Liam Davis
The Toronto Raptors' Game 4 victory over the Milwaukee Bucks showed how dangerous the former can be when both Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan go off. DeRozan was extremely patient and efficient off the dribble, while Lowry, despite shooting whatever from the field, played gritty defense without allowing his offensive production to plummet.
Toronto's three-point defense was spectacular as well. Milwaukee shot just 5-of-21 from beyond the arc, where it had been killing the Raptors through the first three games.
The Bucks' three-point defense was strong too, though. And both Giannis Antetokounmpo and Khris Middleton missed a ton of wide-open looks. That shouldn't happen again, not to that extent at least.
Yes, there's a chance the Raptors, by inserting Norman Powell into the starting five for Jonas Valanciunas, have found their happy medium on defense. But this series is fated to be a back-and-forth affair, and with the way the first four games have unfolded, we have to bet on extremely small point margins.
The Pick: Milwaukee Bucks (+6)
Did we pick the Washington Wizards to cover the spread, and thus win, and therefore open up a 3-0 lead on the Atlanta Hawks, in Game 3? We did. But then the Wizards came out flat, unfathomably so, and fell into a 38-20 hole by the end of the first quarter. They never recovered, and alas, we were wrong.
But one game cannot change what we've seen in the previous two games. Though the Hawks' defense was sensational, Bradley Beal and Markieff Morris missed a lot of quality open looks. The Wizards are shooting under 22 percent on wide-open threes for the series, and that number will climb. Their pick-and-roll coverage will also improve, because we saw that it could in Games 1 and 2.
The status of Otto Porter is admittedly one thing to consider here. If he's a no-go for Game 4, you'll want to think about steering clear of this contest altogether. For now, his neck injury doesn't appear to be serious, so the Wizards are the pick.
The Pick: Washington Wizards (+2.5)
The Golden State Warriors will still be without head coach Steve Kerr when they go for the first-round series sweep against the Portland Trail Blazers. The statuses of Kevin Durant and Shaun Livingston are up in the air as well.
Even if everyone is missing, though, we have to ride with the Warriors.
Consider the Warriors' average margin of victory through those first three games. It checks in at 15.3 points. And now consider how they won Game 3. They trailed by as many as 17 points, and neither Stephen Curry nor Draymond Green nor Klay Thompson shot particularly well from the floor. In fact, between the three of them, they were downright awful, combining to shoot 20-of-52 from the field—less than 39 percent.
But again: The Warriors still won, because they can flip a switch on defense and have a bunch of complementary players to knock down open shots when the Blazers collapse on one of their many stars.
No team has ever come back from a 3-0 series deficit, and we have to assume that plays into Portland's morale, no matter how many cliches the players champion. And if Durant is, in fact, ready to rock, forget about it. The Warriors are getting this one.
The Pick: Golden State Warriors (-7)
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