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Inside the Paint - Tuesday

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The first round of the NBA playoffs has been dominated by the home team, which shouldn’t come as a surprise. Overall, the hosts have gone 25-8 straight up and if you take out the sweeps by the Heat and Spurs, the record stands at 21-4 (84%). All three home teams held serve last night and the oddsmakers are expecting that trend to continue tonight and tomorrow as well.

Golden State at Denver (TNT, 8:05 p.m.)

Most people wrote Golden State off after it lost Game 1 at Denver and rightly so. During the 97-95 setback, the Warriors also lost All-Star forward David Lee to a season-ending hip injury. Since Lee joined Golden State from the Knicks, the team was 3-18 without the former Florida Gators standout in the lineup.
Since Lee went down, head coach Mark Jackson has gone with a four-guard lineup and his counterpart George Karl hasn’t been able to answer. The Warriors have notched three straight victories in this series, including a 115-101 victory in Game 4 at home on Sunday. In that win, Stephen Curry elevated his play again and put the game away by scoring 22 of his career playoff-high 31 points in the victory.

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Despite trailing 3-1 in the best-of-seven series, most sportsbooks have the Nuggets listed as 7 ½-point home favorites for Game 5. During the regular season, Denver went 38-3 at home but it did lose to Golden State in Game 2 by 14 points (131-117). The Warriors shot a blistering 64.6 percent (51-of-79) from the field in the win, which snapped a 24-game winning streak for the Nuggets at the Pepsi Center.

Golden State has covered all four games in this series and grabbing points seems like a gift tonight, or is it a trap? Our friends at Doc’s Sports believe Golden State should have confidence with its series lead. They explained, “The Warriors have proven they can run with the Nuggets. They are young and athletic, and we think this team is not fazed at all by the altitude in Denver, which is its main advantage at home. It did not seem to bother them all in Game 1, where they were in it down to the final buzzer, and Game 2 where they blew the Nuggets out of the building on their own court. The Warriors have all the momentum now in this series, and Steph Curry is really playing out of his mind right now.”

“The oddsmakers are posting such a big spread here because they think the Nuggets are “due”. We think the “due factor” is one of the things to stay away from when handicapping the NBA. When a team is “due” that means they have not been playing well, and the Nuggets just do not look like the team they have through much of the second half of the season, while the Warriors have looked like a team that could be a real threat to reach the NBA Finals.”

If you think Denver can reverse its fortunes and win three in a row, then be sure to check out the generous series price. You can back the Nuggets at odds as high as 5/2 (Bet $100 to win $250) to rally past the Warriors. Keep in mind that Denver head coach George Karl has made the playoffs in each of his nine seasons in Denver but he’s been sent packing in the first round eight times.

Total players have watched the ‘under’ go 17-16 in the playoffs but the ‘over’ did go 3-0 last night. The ‘over’ has gone 3-1 in this series and tonight’s total is hovering around 213 points. The only contest that went ‘under’ was Game 1, which was an afternoon game in Denver. We mention that because tonight’s game will start at 6:00 p.m. MT, which is outside of the norm for the Nuggets.

If necessary, Game 6 will be played from the Bay Area on Friday.

Memphis at L.A. Clippers (TNT, 10:35 p.m. ET)

Similar to Golden State, a lot of pundits were selling the Grizzlies after they lost the first two games in this series to the Clippers. Memphis quickly answered the critics with not one but two dominating victories at home. On Saturday, the Grizzlies captured a 104-83 victory in Game 4 as three-point home favorites. Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph scored 24 points apiece and dominated the paint, which has been the key to this series so far.

In the Clippers’ two wins at home, they had an 87-61 edge on the glass. Memphis controlled the boards at home with a 92-61 edge at the FedEx Forum and that included a 27-9 advantage on the offensive end.
Gamblers have watched the home team go 4-0 SU and 3-1 ATS in in this series and outside of the two-point margin (93-91) Game 2, these games haven’t been close. Oddsmakers opened Los Angeles as a 5 ½-point favorite for Game 5 and the number has held steady.

Including the two wins in this series, the Clippers have won six straight and nine of their last 10 at the Staples Center. Even though Memphis dropped the first two games at Los Angeles, the Grizzlies have gone 24-19 SU and 23-19 ATS on the road this season. However, make a note that 13 of the 19 setbacks have come by six points or more.

During the regular season, the ‘under’ went 3-1 in the four meetings. In this series, the ‘over’ has gone 3-1 and the oddsmakers continue to drop the number. Game 5 opened at 180 and the number has dropped to 179 ½ at a few outfits.

Doc’s Sports believes we could see the ‘over’ improve to 4-1 in this series on Tuesday. “The Grizzlies are not as good defensively on the road as opposed to at home, and with the Clippers struggling offensively in two straight games in Memphis we suspect they will thrive back at home where they are the most comfortable. And Memphis has scored 91 or more in all four games of this series, and we think that they can do it again tonight. We think the point spread in this game is about right on, but we do think it will be a pretty close game. A blowout normally favors the under, but with a close game like we expect tonight, there will probably be a few fouls at the end of the game, and that can always bump a total up if it is close.”

The Clippers have seen the ‘over’ go 26-16 at home this season and that includes a 7-1 run in the last eight games from the Staples Center.

Since this series has now become a best-of-three, the value could be with the series price, especially if you like the Clippers. Los Angeles is now listed at a minus-175 favorite (Bet $175 to win $100) price to beat Memphis in the series. For Game 5, the Clippers are minus-230 (Bet $225 to win $100) on the money-line. If you like L.A. on Tuesday, then save yourself 65 cents and take the series price. It could also allow you to hedge out in Game 6 or 7 as well.

Game 6 will be played at the FedEx Forum in Memphis on Friday.

Chris David can be reached at cdavid@vegasinsider.com

  
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