Congrats to the Nuggets for staving off a sweep in Denver against Golden State, but with the Warriors hosting Wednesday's Game 5, I think it's safe to say most basketball purists are ready for the Dubs to move on. The same goes for the Bucks, who obliterated the Bulls twice in the Windy City to take a commanding 3-1 lead back to Milwaukee.
Now then, on with today's NBA playoffs betting preview…
Milwaukee has stolen the Bulls' souls
Bulls at Bucks (Game 5 — MIL leads 3-1), 7:30 p.m. ET on TNT
On the heels of a competitive pair of matchups to tip off this series, it looked like the Bucks were in for a real test as they headed to Chicago tied 1-1 and without All-Star wing Khris Middleton. Instead, Milwaukee flexed its championship might, routing the Bulls 111-81 in Game 3 and 119-95 in Game 4. YIKES.
I don't think we, as a sporting society, talk enough about how creepy-looking StatMuse's player sketches are, but hey, they bring the heat when it comes to stats:
Yeah think about that for a second. Not taking anything away from Grayson Allen as a player per se, but let's face it, he's so easy to hate for his intentional tripping of players and the bullshit foul he committed on Chicago's Alex Caruso that broke his wrist. Speaking of Caruso, he's banged up again and in concussion protocol. He won't play tonight, nor will Bulls star Zach LaVine, who's in COVID protocols.
Thus, Milwaukee at -12.5 isn't a bad wager. Even though the road team has covered in the Bulls' past nine games overall, Chicago's lack of collective playoff experience is really revealing itself, as key younger players like Patrick Williams and Ayo Dosunmu have proven they aren't ready for the big stage just yet. Unless one of them comes up HUGE with LaVine and Caruso out, the Bulls are in terrible trouble.
Giannis Antetokounmpo (OU 54.5 pts, rebs, ast) is a pretty safe bet to have a monster performance for the hosts. Whether he hits his Over on any given prop depends how lopsided the outcome is, as Giannis may not play enough minutes to reach his gaudy totals. Since the All-Star break, counting the postseason, the Bulls (+600) are 9-18 SU. They're also 4-9 ATS as underdogs in that span.
Chicago's DeMar DeRozan (OU 29.5 points) has been mostly MEH this series aside from his 41-point showing in Game 2. In eight of his last nine starts with LaVine out, DeRozan has scored 31+ points. He's a solid value play at +130 to be the leading scorer in Wednesday's showdown.
One more trend: Across the eight meetings between the Bucks and Bulls this season, the Under (217.5 at -109) is 7-1.
Golden State out to confirm title favorite status
Nuggets at Warriors (Game 5 — GS leads 3-1), 10 p.m. ET on TNT
The latest championship futures have the Warriors (+300) as the top choice to win the NBA Finals over the Phoenix (+400), Boston (+450), and Miami (+500). Obviously, bookmakers aren't taking Golden State's Game 4 loss as anything more than a temporary setback on the way to the next round, nor should they put more stock into than that. Nor should you.
In the previous two contests at Chase Center, the Dubs (-8.5) won by 16 and 20 points respectively. With that electrifying atmosphere and the wealth of big-game experience between Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Draymond Green, Denver (+290) stands little chance without the services of Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr.
Thompson's form in the opening round is perhaps the most underrated subplot. While Jordan Poole has deservedly garnered the spotlight as the potential third Splash Brother, Klay Thompson (OU 23.5 points) is averaging 24.5 ppg in the playoffs on 52.5% shooting and 50% from 3-point land. Also, let his recent comments be a fair warning to Nuggets fans or Warriors haters who are getting their hopes up:
Denver has gone 2-5 ATS as the underdog of late. Reigning MVP Nikola Jokic (51.5 pts, rebs, ast) will need to exceed his combined Over by about 10 for the Nuggets to even have a chance. I wouldn't totally put it past Joker, but even then, Golden State shouldn't be too bothered to win this outright. I don't hate the combination of Jordan Poole to score 20+ points and the Warriors to win at +120 odds. However, I like another combo play even more, which you can read about in the next section.
In case you want to play devil's advocate and defy what looks to be inevitable: the Nuggets are 7-2 SU when facing elimination recently, and could at least start hot by winning the first quarter (+160), considering Golden State has lost the last five opening frames as home favorites.
One more trend: The Over (225.5 at -112) is 6-1 in the past seven Nuggets-Warriors matchups.
NBA Plays of the Day: Bobby Portis Over 14.5 points/Bucks to win combo (+110) and Warriors -8.5
Last night was a 1-for-2 situation, as Miami barely failed to cover -7 despite Jimmy Butler being a last-minute scratch (shout out Victor Oladipo).
Let's keep it simple, ride the favorites, and try to hit both of these! When it comes to the Warriors, they were just flat in their last contest, and Jokic had a transcendent Game 4 performance. They'll be hyped up and ready to put the Nuggets down.
The Bulls have been so hapless lately. I don't understand what's happened to them. They totally flatlined in front of their own fans. It could get ugly in Milwaukee with Chicago so shorthanded, yet 12.5 points is still a lot to lay. For slightly better value: With the way Bucks fans love to rally around Bobby Portis, he should be able to get 15+ points as the hosts coast to victory with relative ease. Portis has averaged 16 points and 29 minutes since entering the starting lineup in place of Middleton.
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