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April 23: NBA Bets, Odds & Trends

By the fourth game of a series, most of the adjustments have been made and it’s about pressing advantages so we have a very good idea of what we’ll see as in these four games. Unfortunately, it means that Vegas also has a strong handle on the games and these are the tightest lines we’ve seen this postseason.

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Raptors-Magic

Total 205

Spread TOR -11.5

ORL: 43-43 Series: 1-3 Away: 18-25 ATS: 46-28-2   DOG: 24-33 Streak: L3

TOR: 61-25 Series: 3-1 Home: 33-10 ATS: 39-45-2   FAV: 52-18 Streak: W3

 

The series shifts back to Toronto for what should be the fifth and final game as the Raptors are well positioned to closeout the gentleman’s sweep.

The only thing that’s slowed Kawhi Leonard in this series has been the flu he wasn’t playing with in game three. While he doesn’t look quite as ridiculous on the defensive end as he did for the Spurs, Leonard’s offensive game is better than ever as he has a 63% true shooting on 33% usage for a 21.3 net rating in the series. For as good as Giannis has been, Kawhi’s been the best player in the east for the first round.

The story of this series has been the Raptors defense as they’ve essentially smothered an overmatched Orlando team for long stretches at a time. Toronto’s ultimate offensive upside remains an open question, but they’ve got everything they need to close out the series with ease.

 

Nets-Sixers

Total 229.5

Spread PHI -9

BKN: 43-43 Series: 1-3 Away: 20-23 ATS: 46-40   DOG: 20-37 Streak: L1

PHI: 54-32 Series: 3-1 Home: 32-11 ATS: 41-45   FAV: 44-18 Streak: W3

Kenny Atkinson changed his starting five in the last game, sending DeMarre Carroll and Rodions Kurucs to the bench in favor of Caris LeVert and Jared Dudley. The move worked in creating more offense for the Nets — they had more attempts from the Sixers from the field and the free throw line, but Brooklyn still lost and heads into Philadelphia for what may be their last game of the season.

Brooklyn’s been generating a lot of good three-point looks in this series, but D’Angelo Russell hasn’t been able to hit enough of his and the usually reliable DeMarre Carroll and Joe Harris have gone ice cold. If they want to reach a game six, they’re going to need to get a much better shooting night from their wings.

The Sixers have controlled this series by being utterly efficient on offense. Despite Jarrett Allen’s improved play — he contested 28 shots in game four — Philadelphia’s been able to get just about anything they want at the rim and I’d expect them to press that advantage and work hard to close the series out tonight so they can get some rest for Joel Embiid’s knee before a second-round date with the Raptors.

 

Spurs-Nuggets

Total 211

Spread DEN -5.5

SAS: 50-36 Series: 2-2 Away: 17-25 ATS: 45-40-1   DOG: 14-21 Streak: L1

DEN: 56-30 Series: 2-2 Home: 35-8 ATS: 44-42   FAV: 45-14 Streak: W1

After a shaky start, Denver seems to have found their footing in this series. Mike Malone started Torrey Craig for Will Barton in game four and it worked out quite both as expected (their starters’ defense improved dramatically and Barton game alive offensively with the second unit) and in unforeseen ways (Craig knocked down an uncharacteristic 5-7 from behind the arc).

Nikola Jokic has looked more dominant by the game — he had 29 points, 12 rebounds, 8 assists and 0 turnovers in game 4 — and San Antonio’s found no answers for the big man and Jakob Poeltl’s been in constant foul trouble throughout.

The Spurs have found success in this series when they’ve been able to keep the Nuggets out of transition and get shots at the rim — synergistic goals as made buckets allow for San Antonio to get back. For San Antonio to pull the upset tonight, and take control of the series, they’ll need to get more penetration than they’ve been able to muster since Denver stopped helping off of Derrick White and hope the Nuggets can’t hit over 50% of their threes for a third consecutive game.

Denver’s the most vulnerable favorite on the slate, but the Spurs have had no answers for them defensively as the Nuggets have had the fourth best offensive rating in the playoffs despite a putrid showing in game one. Add in Denver’s season-long dominance at home and I expect Mike Malone’s team to get it don.

 

Thunder-Blazers

Total 221

Spread POR -4

OKC: 52-32 Series: 1-3 Away: 22-21 ATS: 43-43   DOG: 10-11 Streak: L1

POR: 43-41 Series: 3-1 Home: 34-9 ATS: 48-37-1   FAV: 44-10 Streak: W1

I don’t think this is what Paul George thought he was signing up for when he decided to stay in Oklahoma City over the offseason as the Thunder are going into Portland staring at elimination.

While Billy Donovan’s team was expected to struggle from distance — they’re shooting under 30% from beyond the arc in their three loses — the other failures have to be utterly discouraging.

George and Russell Westbrook have been thoroughly outplayed by Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. Steven Adams has been utterly incapable of exploiting what looked to be a mismatch against Enes Kanter. It took Jerami Grant, Dennis Schroder and Terrance Ferguson all going nuts from beyond the arc for the Thunder to steal game three and the chances of that happening again are infinitesimal.

Portland’s been the better team by a wide margin in the series — particularly on the defensive end — and the cover can be paired with the under if you’re looking more action on a slate without a lot of obvious value.

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