March Madness is approaching and the 64 team tournament is consistently the most heart pounding and exhilarating collection of games in all athletics. Who will win it all? A perennial favorite that won't be denied or will one team catch lightning in a bottle and make history?
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NBA Playoff Over Under Wagers
Over Unders On Wednesday
By Dan Favale
Something about playing the Washington Wizards makes the Atlanta Hawks' offense terribly unpredictable. You can typically count on the Hawks for low-scoring affairs. They play Dwight Howard heavy minutes and don't have a ton of floor spacing. That's not a recipe for high point totals.
But the Wizards ranked as one of the five worst defensive teams by points allowed per 100 possessions down the stretch of the regular season. Their starting lineup imploded on the less glamorous end later in the schedule, and the Hawks mustered 107 points against them in Game 1.
Still: Setting the over/under at 212 is excessive.
The average total score for these two teams through five meetings thus far is 204.6—more than seven points below this benchmark. The Hawks aren't going to let the Wizards run rampant on offense again. At the very least, they should adjust their coverage on John Wall, making it harder for him to detonate.
Plus, the Hawks' own Game 1 total was inflated by an abnormally hot start in the first quarter. They more than regressed to the mean by the end of Sunday's contest. We should expect this tilt to be of the lower scoring variety.
The Under: 212
This over/under is right on the money.
In five meetings with one another, the Houston Rockets and Oklahoma City Thunder are averaging a combined 222 points—right at the provided touchstone. That makes this one much more difficult to predict.
A lot depends on how the Thunder adjust their pick-and-roll defense. James Harden torched them in Game 1 within the high pick-and-roll. Every time they switched one of their bigs, either Enes Kanter or Steve Adams, they got clobbered. If they don't tweak that coverage, they are in for another long night on the defensive end.
On the flip side, the Thunder's offense was a categorical disaster in Game 1. Like, Andre Roberson was their second-leading scorer, and the Thunder cannot count on him to shoot 4-of-6 from beyond the arc every darn game.
Who will step up to help Russell Westbrook, who had a tough go of it in Game 1 himself? Will Victor Oladipo play better in his second-ever playoff game? Will anyone besides Roberson and Westbrook hit a three?
Even if the Rockets go off, as they tend to do, it's hard at this point to imagine the Thunder doing the same.
The Pick: Under 222.5
Kevin Durant is questionable for this Game 2 matchup, which, if we're being honest, means almost nothing.
Sure, the Golden State Warriors would like to have him, but his absence doesn't destroy their offense. They are still one of the league's best scoring machines without him, so even if he's watching from the sidelines, the dynamic of their relationship with the Portland Trail Blazers won't change.
Both teams are going to score a lot of points.
Following Game 1, the Warriors and Blazers have now played against one another five times this season. The average total score is more than 230. That makes the over a no-brainer, particularly when Game 1 saw them hit that exact mark.
The thing to watch for, however, is the Blazers' response in the event the Warriors pull away. Will they show as much fight on offense? They tallied just 53 points in the second half of Game 1, and no one outside Damian Lillard of C.J. McCollum ever caught fire. The Warriors could ride that same defensive momentum to the under.
But that would go against the grain of this entire series. So the over it is.
The Pick: Over 220
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