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Saturday Game 1 NBA Betting Tips
Best Hard Court Bets On Saturday
By Jack Taylor
Indiana Pacers at Cleveland Cavaliers (-8.5)
These two entered the playoffs on opposite paths. One won five in a row, while the other lost four in a row — including a 26-point meltdown in the fourth quarter. Can you guess who is who? Cleveland (51-31) are the latter and Indiana (42-40) the former.
Paul George is playing perhaps the best basketball of his life. So far in April he's averaging a whopping 32.8 points, 8.2 rebounds, and 4.5 assists a game. One of those games came against the Cavs, when George went off for 43 points, nine boards, and nine assists. Despite that effort, Cleveland won a 135-130 overtime thriller.
That's ultimately the storyline of this series. Can anyone help George fend off the trio of Cleveland's superstars?
Believe it or not, the answer may be Lance Stephenson. He's only been back with his old team for six games, but he adds a much-needed spark. Plus, we know the history between LeBron James and Stephenson.
We know everyone believes the defending champions will enter "playoff mode" and shrug off these recent struggles. But until they do so, we say bet Indiana to keep this game close.
Pick: Pacers (+8.5)
Memphis Grizzlies at San Antonio Spurs (-9)
You know that team that is labeled "scary" and the one you don't want to come across in the postseason? Well, Memphis (43-39) is that team. The Grizzlies have given the best teams in the Western Conference fits this season. They beat the Warriors twice, Houston twice, and their first-round opponent twice.
In four regular season meetings between these two, nine points was the average difference — and what do you know, that's the spread in this one. Got to love the bookies!
However, it's important to note when Memphis visited San Antonio during those games, they lost by seven and six points (overtime, too). That's why we're confident with picking the Grizzlies to cover.
Keep a close eye on the matchup between brothers in this one, Marc Gasol for Memphis and Pau for San Antonio. There will be no love lost and the slugfest down low will likely decide this one. Despite their age, Memphis big duo of Gasol and Zach Randolph still have enough to keep the Spurs on their toes.
Pick: Grizzlies (+9)
Over/Under 200.5 points: Utah Jazz vs. Los Angeles Clippers
For all the great individual matchups this first round, the clash between DeAndre Jordan and Rudy Gobert will be an absolute slugfest between two heavyweights. The two big men are almost mirror images of one another. Both are elite rim protectors and pick-and-roll setters. Jordan and Gobert's battle will set the tone for this entire series.
This matchup is also the classic great offense vs. great defense storyline. Los Angeles' high-powered attack ranks sixth in the league in scoring at 108.7 points per contest. Utah's defense is even better, topping the NBA in points allowed at 96.8 per game — by comparison, only one other team held opponents under 100 points a game during the season.
Furthermore, the Jazz have already shown they can contain Lob City. These two teams met four times in the regular season, with the Clippers winning three times. However, their up-tempo offense was largely stiffled. Los Angeles averaged a meager 98 points during the season series — eight less then their average.
That begs the question, how did Utah lose three times in spite of the suffocating defense? Well, their offense fared even worse, averaging 89 points.
This is a recipe for an under, especially since scoring tends to go down during the postseason when defensive effort skyrockets.
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