The first clash between Tyson Fury and Deontay Wilder was an instant classic that ended in a draw. In the rematch, someone has to win, right? We preview the highly-anticipated grudge match and offer up a free prediction on the outcome!
Friday Playoffs NBA Betting Profile
Over Unders On Friday Night
By Dan Favale
Chicago Bulls (-1.5) vs. Boston Celtics (+1.5)
Home teams typically get the benefit of the doubt in the playoffs, and that's what we're seeing here. To be sure, the Chicago Bulls have earned it. They took it to the Boston Celtics in Games 1 and 2, putting the Eastern Conference's No. 1 seed on the verge of falling into an inescapable 3-0 series hole.
But the Bulls have had two-game stretches of dominance in the recent the past. That Rajon Rondo, Dwyane Wade and Jimmy Butler are performing so well together now, all of sudden, isn't sustainable. Maybe it's enough to get them out of this series, but overall, it feels like a facade.
To be honest, the Bulls' entire series lead feels like a mirage. The Celtics haven't come close to meeting their potential. They can't generate consistent offense when Isaiah Thomas is off the floor, Al Horford has been outplayed by Robin Lopez, and in Game 2 specifically, they missed a ton of wide-open shots that normally go down.
We picked the Celtics in each of the first two tilts to no avail, but the streak is solidering on to three, because now more than ever they seem overdue for a trademark victory over a team that, frankly, isn't very good.
The Pick: Boston Celtics (+1.5)
Oklahoma City Thunder (-3) vs. Houston Rockets (+3)
There isn't a lot for the Oklahoma City Thunder to feel good about leading into Game 3. They have yet to really wall off the Houston Rockets' high pick-and-roll, and they've now collapsed twice in a span of minutes through each of the first two contests.
At the same time, the Thunder appear to be getting closer. They fell apart in the third quarter of Game 1, then lasted into the fourth quarter of Game 2. They even had a late lead in the latter meeting.
All of which suggests this series won't be a sweep, and that it might end up being more competitive than this 2-0 deficit implies. The Thunder are still very much tied to the efficiency of one man, in Russell Westbrook, but that's no different than the regular season. And they proved they could win big games then.
Head coach Billy Donovan did a better job with his rotation in Game 2, and the Thunder have to get better outings from Victor Oladipo and Steven Adams at some point. So long as Westbrook doesn't jack up a ton of unwarranted shots in crucial situations, as he did in Game 2, this is a matchup we should expect the Thunder to win—if only because they have to.
The Pick: Oklahoma City Thunder (-3)
Utah Jazz (+1) vs. Los Angeles Clippers (-1)
Rudy Gobert is officially a no-go for Game 3 as he continues to recover from the knee sprain he suffered in Game 1. This is a problem for the Utah Jazz, who aren't the same defensive outfit without him.
Then again, the Los Angeles Clippers haven't exactly been impressive this series. They lost Game 1, and then barely held serve in Game 2. Their offense hasn't been able to take enough advantage of Gobert's absence, and they need to get more out of J.J. Redick's shooting stroke if he's going to be on the floor for 25-plus minutes every night.
Still, without Gobert, the Jazz are overmatched—on both ends of the floor. They have to rely more on their perimeter defenders when he's not policing the area around the rim, and there isn't another soul who creates as much separation with his screens on offense.
Though they're playing at home, this may be the first game of the series that actually gets away from the Jazz. Place your bets accordingly.
The Pick: Los Angeles Clippers (-1)
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