NBA Playoff Thursday Game Odds Comparison
By Liam Davis
If Monday night was any indication, the Milwaukee Bucks are toast. They had some players hit on offense—namely Malcolm Brogdon and Giannis Antetokounmpo. But their defense relinguished 118 points to a Toronto Raptors team that started hitting some of its threes and reached the free-throw line at will.
But there are some silver linings for the Bucks, and for those looking to invest in them. A lot of what went wrong in Milwaukee was unforced—self-inflicted.
The Bucks have been committing a ton of turnovers over their last three games—they own the highest cough-up rate in the league during that time. They haven't been hitting their free throws; in Game 5 alone, they were a minus-nine at the line, even though they attempted the same number of shots as the Raptors. Antetokounmpo and crew also need to be more opportunistic on offense. If they don't get into their sets quicker after grabbing a defensive rebound, they won't ever fully wield the strength of their length and speed.
The issue, of course, is that the Bucks could do everything right in Game 6 and still lose. The Raptors have unlocked another dynamic since moving Norman Powell into the starting lineup. Their three-point shooting is still shaky, and they've yet to have Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan detonate on the same night, but they are deep, their defense has been solid and they continue to find ways to reach the line.
With the stench of Games 1 and 2 behind them, and the Bucks having shown in Game 5 they don't have the mental fortitude to come back from double-digit deficits early on, we're betting on the Raptors closing this series out.
The Pick: Toronto Raptors (+1.5)
Credit the Memphis Grizzlies for the way they've played on the offensive end and, at times, the defensive end during this series. But the San Antonio Spurs regrouped in Game 5, asserting their dominance as the more balanced team with the better supporting cast.
Kawhi Leonard has been sensational this series. He's shouldering a heavy offensive burden without allowing his efficiency to dip. When he gets help, as he did in Game 5, forget about it, the Spurs are going to win.
To say the Grizzlies have no hope, when Mike Conley has been playing out of his mind, would be cruel. But there's a piece of history working against them here.
If the Grizzlies win, they'll have doled the Spurs their third straight road loss. And San Antonio has lost three consecutive road tilts, in the regular season, just three times since 2014. It's beyond rare that Gregg Popovich's squad collapses to that degree, and we shouldn't expect this iteration, which was the best road unit in the NBA this year, to suffer an exception's fate.
The Pick: San Antonio Spurs (-4)
What are the Los Angeles Clippers supposed to do in this series? Honestly, without Blake Griffin, what are they supposed to do?
Chris Paul has been tearing it up, as is his postseason norm, and the Clippers finally got the game they wanted and needed from J.J. Redick on Tuesday.
They still lost.
The Jazz, quite simply, are too deep for them. They have so many more above-aboard wing defenders, and that makes life hell on an offense that, as a result, cannot find consistent production outside of Paul. Scarier still, the the Jazz haven't even gotten consistent production from George Hill and Rodney Hood. If either or both of them joins Joe Johnson, Gordon Hayward and Joe Ingles in going off, the Clippers will have some problems on their hands.
But while the Jazz can, and should, close this series out, we must remember that not one of the first five games has been a blowout. The average margin of victory thus far is 5.2 points.
So if the Clippers go down, chances are they bow out swinging.
The Pick: Los Angeles Clippers (-5.5)
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