Tuesday Playoff Tips
April 23, 2013
By Kevin Rogers
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The home teams dominated the series openers in the first round of the NBA playoffs this past weekend. Three teams look to take 2-0 advantages on Tuesday night, including the top two seeds in the East (Heat and Knicks). Meanwhile, the Nuggets attempt to extend their lengthy home win streak against a Warriors' squad down one of their stars. We'll begin in South Florida with the defending champs seeking another blowout.
Bucks at Heat (-14, 197) - 7:30 PM EST
There was no reason to believe Brandon Jennings' bold statement prior to this series that the 38-44 Bucks would knock off the Heat in six games. Miami proved in the series opener again that crazy predictions won't faze last season's title-holders, as the Heat blasted Milwaukee, 110-87 to cash easily as 13-point favorites. Past Jennings and Monta Ellis, the rest of the Bucks combined for just 39 points, while Miami chased Milwaukee in the second half with a 58-point outburst.
Erik Spoelstra's improved to 12-3 ATS the last 15 games with the victory in the series opener, including the fifth cover in the previous six opportunities at home. After the Bucks covered the first two meetings with the Heat, Miami's defense has stiffened up by not allowing more than 94 points to Milwaukee in each of the last three meetings.
The Bucks are listed as a double-digit underdog for just the second time this season tonight, while failing to cover five of their last seven times as a road 'dog. Playing away from Milwaukee has been a struggle for Jim Boylan's team recently, losing 10 of their past 11 road contests, with the lone victory coming in the season finale at Oklahoma City as Kevin Durant sat out. The 'under' is profiting on the highway recently for the Bucks, cashing in seven of the last 10 outings.
Celtics at Knicks (-6 ½, 185 ½) - 8:00 PM EST
New York hasn't won a playoff series since 2000, as the Knicks took a positive step forward by grabbing Saturday's Game 1 over the Celtics, 85-78. Boston put up 29 points in the opening quarter, but the C's limped to just 25 points in the second half, including an eight-point spot in the final 12 minutes. The Knicks didn't shoot well from the floor (40%), as New York leaned on the league's leading scorer to carry them to victory.
Carmelo Anthony lifted the Knicks with a game-high 36 points for just his second playoff victory in a New York uniform. The Celtics' bench was one of the main reasons for the horrific offensive performance thanks to a four-point output from Courtney Lee, Jason Terry, and Jordan Crawford on 0-7 shooting from the floor (Lee converted four free throws). The New York bench shined as Sixth Man of the Year J.R. Smith pumped in 15 points, while Kenyon Martin contributed 10 points.
The Knicks have taken four of five meetings from the Celtics this season, while Boston has now lost eight straight games in the role of a road underdog (3-5 ATS). New York is riding an 11-game winning streak at Madison Square Garden since losing to Oklahoma City on March 7, as Mike Woodson's team has covered nine times in this stretch.
Warriors at Nuggets (-8, 207) - 10:30 PM EST
Denver slipped by Golden State in the series opener, 97-95 as Andre Miller's layup in the final seconds gave the Nuggets their 24th straight home victory. The Warriors managed to cash as 7 ½-point underdogs, but lost David Lee to a hip injury that will sideline the power forward for the rest of the postseason. The Nuggets fell to 1-4 ATS the last five games, as Denver tries to take control of this series heading back to Oakland on Friday.
Past Miller's 28 points, the Nuggets needed to scratch and claw as many points as possible from Ty Lawson, Wilson Chandler, and Corey Brewer, who combined to score 33 points on 15-of-43 shooting from the floor. Denver's three-point shooting ranked 25th in the league and it showed in Game 1, as the Nuggets connected on just 3-of-16 attempts from downtown. The game finished 'under' the total of 211 ½, but that also tied into the fact that things tipped off at 3:30 local time in Denver.
The Warriors played three games without Lee in the regular season and covered in both opportunities as an underdog at New Orleans and New York. The Nuggets will get a huge boost in the paint as Kenneth Faried is expected to return to the lineup after missing a week with a sprained ankle. Golden State has covered five of its last six games, but own a 4-10 ATS record the last 14 opportunities in the road 'dog role.
You can reach Kevin Rogers via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
Kevin Rogers can be followed on Twitter at virogers.
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