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Friday Playoff Tips

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Three series shift venues on Friday night with two clubs looking to grab their first win of the playoffs. The Nuggets and Warriors are deadlocked at one game apiece with the action heading to Oakland, as Golden State is potentially one stop away from being up 2-0. In the other two series, the home squad tries to avenge a pair of double-digit road losses, starting with the first game back in Boston since the tragedies last Monday.

Knicks at Celtics (-3, 183) - 8:00 PM EST

New York hasn't advanced past the first round since 2000, as the Knicks are two victories away from the conference semifinals. Mike Woodson's club put together two stifling defensive efforts in each second half of the first two wins, limiting Boston to just 23 points in the final 24 minutes of Game 2. The Knicks overcame a poor second quarter to chase the Celtics, 87-71 to cash as 6 ½-point favorites, while the game finished 'under' the total for the second straight contest.

Boston received a better contribution off the bench in Game 2 from Jason Terry and Jordan Crawford, who combined to score 19 points (0 points in Game 1). The Knicks outscored the Celtics, 24-4 to start the third quarter, while Boston put up just six points in the first eight minutes of the second half. The victory was the fifth straight by New York over Boston, including the third consecutive triumph at Madison Square Garden.

Now the series heads to TD Garden, in which the Celtics haven't played since before the bombings at the Boston Marathon on April 15. Doc Rivers' squad owns a 2-4 ATS record the last six games as a home favorite, while losing four of their past seven contests at TD Garden. The Knicks have won seven of their previous nine away from home, as one of those losses came without all their stars at Charlotte towards the end of the season. New York is rolling in the role of a road underdog, cashing six straight when receiving points away from MSG.

Spurs (-5, 188) at Lakers - 10:00 PM EST

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Los Angeles managed to make the playoffs without Kobe Bryant by beating San Antonio and Houston in the final two games of the season. However, the Lakers may not even win one postseason contest as they head home down 2-0 after getting smoked at San Antonio twice. The Spurs took control of Game 2 on Wednesday in the second half to grab a two-game advantage, 102-91 as nine-point favorites, while cashing the 'over' of 189.

After struggling from the field in the series opener, the Spurs rebounded by shooting 51% from the floor in Game 2, including a game-high 28 points from Tony Parker. The Lakers were led by Steve Blake and Dwight Howard, who each put up 16 points, but Howard was mired in foul trouble for most of the night. Following a clear-cut 'under' in Game 1, the 'over' was destined to hit thanks to a 104-point first half. However, 'over' bettors had to sweat things out in the final minutes after a slow third quarter and relatively low-scoring fourth until some easy baskets in the waning minutes.

San Antonio now has the seemingly difficult task to win on the highway, as the Spurs have dropped seven straight road games with their last away victory coming at Phoenix on February 24. The Spurs were limited to less than 100 points in seven of the past eight away games, resulting in a 7-1 mark to the 'under.' Since losing to the Clippers on Valentine's Day, the Lakers have won 13 of their last 14 home contests, but they were listed as an underdog only twice in this stretch. L.A. will be short several guards on Friday as Blake and Steve Nash are both out with hamstring injuries.

Nuggets at Warriors (-1, 212 ½) - 10:30 PM EST

One of the two series that saw a split through the first two games heads to Oakland on Friday. Denver's 24-game home winning streak went up in smoke in Tuesday's Game 2 defeat to Golden State, 131-117, as the Warriors cashed outright as 8 ½-point underdogs (+350 on the moneyline). The game easily eclipsed the 'over' of 208 thanks to a 60-point second quarter and 62-point third quarter, while Golden State torched the nets with 65% shooting from the floor.

Four Warriors' starters (Jarrett Jack, Stephen Curry, Harrison Barnes, and Klay Thompson) combined to score 101 points, but Curry left the game with a sprained ankle. Six different Nuggets put up at least 14 points, while Kenneth Faried returned to the lineup for the first time in three games, scoring just four points in 20 minutes off the bench.

Golden State is riding a five-game ATS hot streak, while winning six of its last nine at Oracle Arena. The Warriors have split a pair of home contests with the Nuggets this season, including a thrilling 106-105 triumph in late November as short 'dogs. Since a four-game road skid in February, the Nuggets have compiled an 8-3 SU and 6-4-1 ATS record away from the Pepsi Center.

You can reach Kevin Rogers via e-mail at rogers@vegasinsider.com

Kevin Rogers can be followed on Twitter at virogers.

  
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