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Saturday's Late Tips
Editor’s Note: Brian Edwards is on a 14-8-1 run in the NBA since March 21. Going back to Feb. 13, Brian has produced a 34-23-1 NBA record (59.6%) to hook his clients up with 10.28 units of profit. Brian’s guaranteed plays are on a 9-4 run (69.2%, +4.73 units), so don’t miss out on tonight’s pay-if-it wins-only selection!

Eastern Conference First Round
No. 6 Miami at No. 3 Philaelphia (ESPN, 8:05 p.m. ET)

2017-18 Regular Season (Series tied 2-2)
Mar. 8 - Heat (-1) vs. 76ers 108-99 (Under 210.5)
Feb. 27 - Heat (-1) vs. 76ers 102-101 (Under 205)
Feb. 14 - 76ers (-4.5) vs. Heat 104-102 (Over 202.5)
Feb. 2 - 76ers (-4) vs. Heat 103-97 (Under 203)

-- As of Friday afternoon, most betting shops had Philadelphia (52-30 straight up, 47-33-2 against the spread) listed as a seven-point favorite with a total of 212. The Heat were available on the money line for a +250 return (risk $100 to win $250).

-- Sportsbook.ag had the 76ers as -500 favorites to win the series, while Miami was +390 on the comeback (risk $100 to win $390).

-- Philadelphia, the Eastern Conference’s No. 3 seed, is making its first postseason appearance since the 2011-12 campaign. The 76ers won 16 consecutive games to close the regular season, going 11-3 ATS in its past 14 contests. They have won 11 games by double-digit margins during this surge, winning by eight points or more 13 times.

-- Brett Brown’s team owns a 30-10 SU record and a 27-13 ATS mark at home this year.

-- Philadelphia will be without Joel Embiid for Game 1. The 24-year-old center is averaging 22.9 points, 11.0 rebounds, 3.2 assists and 1.8 blocked shots per game. Embiid missed the final eight games of the regular season after sustaining a fractured orbital bone on March 28. He’s expected to return at some point during the opening round.

-- Seven Philadelphia players are averaging in double figures, including veteran free-agent signee J.J. Redick. The 13-year veteran out of Duke averaged a career-best 17.1 PPG while draining 42.0 percent of his 3-pointers and 90.4 percent of his free throws. Ben Simmons, the rookie who was a one-and-done player at LSU before missing last season with an injury, is averaging 15.8 points, 8.2 assists, 8.1 rebounds, 1.7 steals and 0.9 blocked shots per game.

-- Miami (44-38 SU, 40-36-6 ATS) has posted a 17-23 SU record and a 23-15-2 spread ledger in its road assignments.

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-- These clubs split four regular-season games with Miami going 2-1-1 ATS. All four meetings came in a five-week span from Feb. 2 to March 8. In the first encounter at Philadelphia, the 76ers captured a 103-97 triumph as four-point home ‘chalk.’ The 200 combined points dropped ‘under’ the 203-point total. Simmons was the catalyst with 20 points, six rebounds, two steals, one block and five assists without a turnover. All five starters scored at least 13 points with Embiid contributing 17 points, 11 rebounds, four assists and three blocked shots. Dario Saric, who averages 14.6 points and 6.7 RPG, had a double-double with 17 points, 10 boards and four assists. Robert Covington and Redick scored 13 points apiece. Kelly Olynyk scored a team-high 19 points for the Heat.

-- Philadelphia won the second meeting by a 104-102 count, but Miami took the cash as a four-point road underdog. The 206 combined points inched ‘over’ the 202-point total. The 76ers destroyed the Heat on the boards with an unfathomable 60-29 advantage thanks to 23 offensive rebounds. Simmons produced a triple-double with 18 points, 12 rebounds, four steals and 10 assists. Saric finished with 19 points and eight boards, while Marco Belinelli came off the bench to score 17 points. Miami’s James Johnson had a game-high 22 points in the losing effort. Johnson grabbed four rebounds and dished out five assists without committing a turnover.

-- Miami won a 102-101 decision over Philadelphia as a one-point home favorite on Feb. 27. Dwyane Wade scored 27 points and knocked down the game winner on a fade-away jumper with 5.9 seconds remaining. The franchise icon scored 15 of the Heat’s last 17 points. Redick’s chance to answer at the buzzer from the top of the key was off the mark. The 203 combined points wiggled ‘under’ the 205-point tally. Goran Dragic finished with 21 points, six rebounds and five assists for the winners. Embiid had 23 points, eight rebounds and four assists in the losing effort.

-- Miami earned the split of the season series thanks to a 108-99 triumph as a one-point home ‘chalk’ on March 8. The 207 combined points dipped ‘under’ the 210.5-point total. Hassan Whiteside led the winners with 26 points, eight rebounds and a pair of blocked shots. Wade had 16 points and six boards in 23 minutes of action. Saric had 20 points and 10 rebounds for the 76ers.

-- Dragic is listed as ‘probable’ with knee soreness, while Redick is also ‘probable’ (back). Dragic averages 17.3 points, 4.8 assists and 4.1 RPG for the Heat. Whiteside averages 14.0 points, 11.4 rebounds and 1.7 blocked shots per game.

-- Miami had five players who hit 100 3-pointers or more this year, and it had nine players who averaged in double figures. One of those guys, Dion Waiters, is out for the season, however. Wayne Ellington, the veteran shooting guard who played his college ball at North Carolina, hit more treys (227) than any reserve in NBA history this year. He averaged a career-best 11.2 PPG.

-- The ‘over’ is 41-40-1 overall for the 76ers, but they’ve seen the ‘under’ go 21-19-1 in their home outings. The ‘over’ went 4-1 in their last five games of the regular season.

-- The ‘under’ is 44-37-1 overall for Miami, 22-19 in its road games.

Western Conference First Round
No. 6 New Orleans at No. 3 Portland (ESPN, 10:35 p.m. ET)

2017-18 Regular Season (Series tied 2-2)
Mar. 27 Trail Blazers (-1) at Pelicans 107-103 (Under 221.5)
Jan. 12 Pelicans (-3.5) vs. Trail Blazers 119-113 (Over 218.5)
Dec. 2 Pelicans (+7.5) at Trail Blazers 123-116 (Over 210.5)
Oct. 24 Trail Blazers (-5.5) vs. Pelicans 103-99 (Under 216)

-- As of Friday afternoon, most spots had Portland (49-33 SU, 45-32-3 ATS) listed as a 5.5-point favorite for Game 1. The total was 217 and the Pelicans were +200 on the money line (risk $100 to win $200).

-- Sportsbook.ag has Portland installed as the -230 favorite to win the series, leaving the Pelicans as +195 underdogs (risk $100 to win $195).

-- Portland has produced a 28-13 SU record and a 23-15-3 spread mark in its home games this season.

-- Terry Stotts’s squad is led by Damian Lillard, who averages team-highs in points (26.9 PPG), assists (6.6 APG) and free-throw percentage (91.6%). C.J. McCollum averages 21.4 PPG and makes 39.7 percent of his 3-pointers. Jusuf Nurkic is averaging 14.3 points, 9.0 rebounds and 1.4 blocked shots per game.

-- New Orleans (48-34 SU, 45-36-1 ATS) finished the regular season by winning five games in a row both SU and ATS to secure the sixth seed in the Western Conference. The Pelicans finished tied with fourth-seeded Oklahoma City and fifth-seeded Utah, and they were just one game back of the Trail Blazers.

-- Alvin Gentry’s squad is 24-17 SU and 26-15 ATS on the road this year. When listed as underdogs of five points or more, the Pelicans posted an 8-6 spread record.

-- Since Feb. 10, New Orleans has compiled a 20-8 SU record and a 19-9 spread ledger.

-- New Orleans lost star center DeMarcus Cousins to a ruptured Achilles tendon on Jan. 31. Cousins was averaging 25.2 points, 12.9 rebounds, 5.4 assists, 1.6 steals and 1.6 blocked shots per game.

-- These teams split four regular-season meetings both SU and ATS, with each team winning and covering once at home and on the road. The first encounter went down in Portland on Oct. 24, with the Trail Blazers winning a 103-93 decision as 4.5-point home ‘chalk.’ The 196 combined points stayed ‘under’ the 216.5-point total. Portland outscored the Pelicans 32-20 in the fourth quarter. McCollum scored a team-high 23 points to lead five double-figure scorers for the winners. Lillard made merely 3-of-16 field-goal attempts and committed six turnovers. Lillard had 13 points, seven assists and five rebounds. Anthony Davis left the game midway through the first quarter with an injury and didn’t return. DeMarcus Cousins had 39 points, 13 rebounds, three assists and three blocked shots in the losing effort.

-- New Orleans returned to the Moda Center on Dec. 2 and beat Portland 123-116 as a 7.5-point underdog. The 239 combined points soared ‘over’ the 211-point total. With Davis out with an injury, Cousins was the catalyst with 38 points and eight rebounds. E’Twaun Moore added 19 points by burying 6-of-7 FGAs and all four of his launches from 3-point territory. Jrue Holiday finished with 17 points, five boards and seven assists compared to only one turnover. Lillard paced Portland with 29 points and eight assists compared to just one turnover. McCollum and Meyers Leonard scored 17 points apiece.

-- New Orleans welcomed Portland to the Big Easy with 119-113 win as a 3.5-point home favorite on Jan. 12. The 232 combined points went ‘over’ the 219-point tally. Davis stole the show with 36 points, nine rebounds and two blocked shots. He hit 16-of-23 attempts from the field and all four of his free-throw attempts. Holiday produced 25 points, six assists, five rebounds and four steals, while Cousins finished with 24 points, 19 boards and eight assists. Lillard and McCollum scored 23 points apiece in defeat.

-- Just a few weeks ago on March 27, Portland returned to Smoothie King Center and captured a 107-103 victory as a 1.5-point road favorite. The 210 combined points went ‘under’ the 221-point total. Lillard scored 28 of his 41 points in the second half to propel his team into the win column. The sixth-year veteran out of Weber St. also had nine rebounds, four steals and six assists without a turnover. Nurkic added 21 points, 10 boards and four blocked shots, while Evan Turner contributed 14 points and six boards. Davis had 36 points, 14 rebounds, six blocked shots, four assists and two steals in the losing effort. Holiday had a triple-double with 21 points, 11 rebounds, 11 assists and a pair of rejections.

-- Portland’s Maurice Harkless is ‘out’ with a knee injury and isn’t expected to be able to return until late April. Harkless played in 59 regular-season games, averaging 6.5 points and 2.7 RPG. He was knocking down 41.5 percent of his 3-point attempts.

-- Portland’s improvement to garner the West’s No. 3 seed can be attributed to its vastly improved defense. The Trail Blazers are ranked fifth in the NBA in scoring defense (103.0 PPG) and fourth in FG percentage ‘D’ (44.7%).

-- Portland’s defense will have its hands full with New Orleans, which is ranked third in the NBA in scoring (111.7 PPG) and second in FG percentage (48.3%).

-- Davis and Holiday have both enjoyed career years. Davis is averaging 28.1 points, 11.1 rebounds, 2.6 blocked shots and 1.5 steals per game. He’s hit 53.4 percent of his FGAs and 82.8 percent of his FTAs. Holiday is averaging 19.0 points, 6.0 assists, 4.5 rebounds and 1.5 steals per game, making 49.4 percent of his shots from the field.

-- Nikola Mirotic has proven to be a crucial trade-deadline acquisition from Chicago. In 30 games with New Orleans, the fifth-year power forward has averaged 14.6 points, 8.2 rebounds and 1.0 steals per game. Mirotic was on fire during the five-game winning steak to close the regular season, averaging 25.8 points and 12.0 RPG.

-- Moore (12.5 PPG) gives the Pelicans another 3-point shooter with his 42.5 percent accuracy from downtown. Rajon Rondo has played outstanding basketball down the stretch and has been a dominant player at times during his postseason career. The University of Kentucky product, one of six on the roster, is averaging 8.3 points, 8.2 assists, 4.0 rebounds and 1.1 steals per game. Most important, Rondo has a stellar 533/151 assist-to-turnover ratio.

-- The ‘under’ is 6-2-1 in the last nine games the Pelicans have played at Portland.

-- After going 4-1 in the Pelicans’ final five games, the ‘over’ is 47-35 overall. However, the ‘under’ is 21-20 for New Orleans in its road contests.

-- The ‘under’ is 47-35 overall for the Trail Blazers, 23-18 in their home games.

Follow Brian Edwards' sports gambling opinions on Twitter at @vegasbedwards.

  
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