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NBA Playoff Over Unders On Saturday
By Dan Favale
Milwaukee Bucks (-2.5) vs. Toronto Raptors (+2.5)
The over/under on this matchup is a little high. The average total score through the first three games is 189—markedly lower than the provided benchmark.
So much of this, though, is on the Toronto Raptors. They failed to reach the 90-point threshold in Game 1, and they couldn't even tally 80 points in Game 2. Their offensive malaise is dragging down the average. The night that they won, Game 2, saw the two teams combine for 206 points.
If you bet the under, you're also betting on that anemia to continue. And that's too risky. One of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan has to get their act together at some point, and the Raptors aren't going to struggle to hit five three-pointers every game.
Credit the Milwaukee Bucks' defense for their body of work on Toronto's offense thus far. But that streak should end now.
The Pick: Over 195.5
Let's take a moment to appreciate what this series as become: a fast-paced push and pull that's averaging a total of 215.5 points a game. That's fairly surprising, because the Atlanta Hawks entered having posted the league's worst offensive rating for the final 31 games of the season.
At the same time, when you watch these games, it makes sense. The Washington Wizards and Hawks are burning through nearly 103 possessions per contest, second only to the Golden State Warriors-Portland Trail Blazers series. When you're playing that fast, you don't need be efficient. You're going to put up points anyway.
The upshot, however, is that neither of these two teams played as fast during the regular season. That it's happening now is flat-out bizarre. And we have to wonder if it's sustainable, especially when the average score between these two during the regular season was about 200 points.
Rolling with the under when the Hawks offense is still bad and they have no plans to bench Dwight Howard feels like the best bet.
The Pick: Under 209.5
Typically, an over/under below 188 for a San Antonio Spurs-Memphis Grizzlies game makes sense. But not in this case.
The Grizzlies are basically playing like a top-10 offense at home since March 1, during which time their defense has also devolved in front of the home fans. It's a weird, inexplicable quirk, but it's a legitimate one. That's why you saw the Grizzlies top 100 points in Game 3 after not being able to get off the ground in Games 1 and 2.
Maybe we can't count on them for another 100-point outing, but their shoddy defense at home should ensure the Spurs piece together a 100-point detonation of their own.
Either way, that makes the over a win.
The Pick: Over 188
No series is being played at a faster pace than this one. And yet, after a combined explosion in Game 1, the Warriors and Blazers laid an over egg in Game 2.
To be more specific, it was the Blazers who laid an egg. They fell behind by so much, they pulled their best players with more than a quarter to go. That drove down their final score by default, contributing to a 110-81 loss that didn't even come close to sniffing the previous over.
That's the risk you run whenever betting the over against the Warriors and their opponents. Blowouts mess with the final score.
We're sticking with the over anyway in this instance, since the Blazers are playing at home and score more efficiently in front of their own fans. And the Warriors play at the third fastest road pace of any team in the league. That's a recipe for an over cover.
The Pick: Over 217
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