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Over Under NBA Playoff Bets On Thursday
Hard Court Best Value Bets
By Dan Favale
Through two games in this series, the Cleveland Cavaliers and Indiana Pacers are totaling, on average, 222.5 points—a full 11 more than this over/under.
The reason for this drop-off isn't entirely clear, even with the change of setting. The Cavaliers and Pacers scored less in Indiana than they did in Cleveland during the regular season, and one of the two games was a low-scoring clunker, but they still averaged 222.5 points overall. At best, there would be a coin toss to decide whether a dip in scoring is necessary. And even if there was, 11 points below the average seems steep.
Remember: The Cavaliers aren't a strong defensive team, and they're even worse on the road. They placed 25th in points allowed per 100 possessions away from home during the regular season, and they've yet to prove they can lock down for a full 48 minutes in this series.
The Pacers do get stingier when playing in Indiana, posted a top-10 defensive rating. But if the Cavaliers jump out to a big lead at any point in the game, as they've done through each of the last two contests, it won't take much for this to turn into a shootout.
The Pick: Over 211.5
This Milwaukee Bucks-Toronto Raptors series is tough to get a hold on from an over/under perspective. They're averaging a combined score of 193 points through two games thus far, but they've been on two different ends of the over and under spectrum through Games 1 and 2.
In the two meetings these two held in Milwaukee during the regular season, the average score fell just shy of 200. Again, nothing crazy there. The Bucks' play style doesn't help, either. They shape-shift on the regular; no discernible identity, on offense or defense, emerges when they play in front of their home crowd.
In lieu of any clear-cut direction, we should lean on the Raptors. They have the best road defensive rating in the league since March 1, which they pair with an offense that's been less than potent. Combine this with the Bucks' decidedly average play in front of their fans, and we should be in for the second defensive slugfest of the series.
The Pick: Under 196
Each of the first two games between the San Antonio Spurs and Memphis Grizzlies has failed to hit the over, so the sportsbooks have adjusted in a big way. The two teams are averaging 185.5 combined points for the series, meeting the provided benchmark to the decimal.
The latest projection essentially banks on the Spurs' defense holding serve while experiencing the natural decline in offensive efficiency that tends to accompany teams on the road. But the Spurs aren't your average team. Their offensive rating on the road is basically the same as it is in San Antonio.
This is a big deal, because the Grizzlies' offense has skyrocketed at home in recent weeks. While they rank 27th in home-court offensive rating for the season, they're 13th since March 1, with a defensive rating that places 28th during that time. Even if they don't live up to their newfound offensive potential, they are projected to relinquish a ton of points.
Chances are, though, the Grizzlies will still eclipse 90 points for the first time this series, especially with head coach David Fizdale's postgame rant from Game 2 still serving as fresh motivation. And if they are going to clear 90 points, you can almost guarantee this one will clear the over.
The Pick: Over 185.5
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