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Wednesday's Playoff Tips
Editor’s Note: Brian Edwards is on an 18-10-2 run (64.3%, +8.07 Units) in the NBA since March 21. Going back to Feb. 13, Brian has produced a 38-25-2 NBA record (60.3%) to hook his clients up with 12.13 units of profit. Brian’s guaranteed plays are on a 11-4 run (73.3%, +6.73 units), so don’t miss out on tonight’s pay-if-it wins-only selection!

Playoff Results | Playoff Projections

Eastern Conference First Round – Game 2 – Pacers lead 1-0
Indiana at Cleveland (TNT, 7:05 p.m. ET)

-- As of early this morning, most books had Cleveland (50-33 straight up, 32-50-1 against the spread) listed as an eight-point ‘chalk’ with a total of 209. The Pacers were +375 on the money line (risk $100 to win $375).

-- Indiana (49-34 SU, 48-35 ATS) coasted to a 98-80 win as a seven-point underdog in Sunday’s series opener at Quicken Loans Arena. The 178 combined points stayed ‘under’ the 213-point total by 35 points, while the Pacers beat the number by 25 points. They hooked up money-line supporters with a +300 payout (paid $300 on $100 wagers). Indiana raced out to a 33-12 lead, led by 17 at intermission and by as many as 23 at one point early in the third quarter. Victor Oladipo was the catalyst with 32 points, six rebounds, four assists, four steals and one blocked shot. Myles Turner added 16 points and eight rebounds on 6-of-9 shooting from the field. Bojan Bogdanovic finished with points and six boards.

-- In the embarrassing loss, LeBron James posted a triple-double with 24 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds. James is now second in NBA postseason history with 20 career triple-doubles, trailing only Magic Johnson’s 30. He didn’t have much help, though. J.R. Smith drained 3-of-6 launches from 3-point land, while Larry Nance Jr. contributed 10 points, five boards and two steals. Kevin Love made 3-of-6 attempts from downtown and pulled down 17 rebounds, but he was limited to merely nine points.

-- In five head-to-head meetings this season, Indiana is 4-1 both SU and ATS against the Cavaliers. The Pacers are 2-1 both SU and ATS at Cleveland. Two of the three victories have come by lopsided margins, including a 124-107 triumph as 10-point underdogs back on Nov. 1. The ‘under’ has cashed at a 3-0-1 clip in the last four encounters.

-- Looking ahead to tonight’s Game 2, VegasInsider.com NBA analyst Chris David offered this take: “As bettors we often fall into the traps of betting on names instead of numbers and while it’s hard to argue against LeBron and his storied career, I feel Indiana is the better overall team and that clearly showed in Game 1 even though the Pacers didn’t exactly play a great game.

“The Cavaliers gave up 98 points to Indiana in the opener and the Pacers only shot 45 percent from the field and they missed 10 free throws, too. In the last 10 encounters versus Cleveland, Indiana is averaging 109.8 PPG and it should’ve come close to that number on Sunday. The Cavaliers haven’t had answers for anybody on defense all season and regardless of LeBron’s effort, you just can’t hide the fact that the Cavs are the second worst in the league when it comes to defensive efficiency. Only the Suns are worse and that can be pointed to youth while the Cavs’ issues clearly lie with age.”

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David continued, “Laying the points and expecting Cleveland to rebound in Game 2 is foolish in my opinion. This was the worst team against the spread this season and including Sunday’s loss, they’re now 12-28-2 versus the number at home this season. Even in last year’s playoffs, Cleveland was 5-3 SU and 3-5 ATS at home. Two of the non-covers came against Indiana, who lost both games in their first-round series but the outcomes were by a combined five points. For Game 2, I would take the points again but my stronger lean would be to the Pacers’ Team Total ‘over’ which looks like a gift at 100 ½.”

-- Cleveland has a 29-13 SU record at home, but it has been deplorable at Quicken Loans for our purposes. The Cavs are 12-28-2 ATS at home.

-- During the regular season, James led Cleveland in scoring (27.5 points per game), assists (9.1 APG), rebounding (8.6 RPG), FG percentage (54.2%), steals (1.4 SPG) and blocked shots (0.9 BPG).

-- Indiana is 22-20 SU and 24-18 ATS in its road assignments.

-- The ‘under’ is 50-32-1 overall for the Pacers, 25-16-1 in their road assignments. They remain the NBA’s best ‘under’ squad.

-- The ‘under’ is 42-39-2 overall for the Cavs, 22-18-2 in their home outings.

Western Conference First Round – Game 2 – Thunder lead 1-0
Utah at Oklahoma City (NBA TV, 8:05 p.m. ET)

-- As of early this morning, Oklahoma City (49-34 SU, 35-47-1 ATS) was listed as a four-point favorite at most spots. The total was 206.5 and the Jazz were +155 to win outright (risk $100 to win $155).

-- Billy Donovan’s team took a 1-0 lead in this best-of-seven series by winning Game 1 on Sunday, 116-108. OKC took the cash as a 4.5-point home favorite, while the 224 combined points soared ‘over’ the 205-point tally. The Thunder have won four straight games dating back to the regular season. The Jazz jumped out to a 16-4 advantage early, but OKC was able to pull even by the end of the first quarter. Paul George drained 8-of-11 treys in a game-high 36-point effort. Russell Westbrook produced 29 points, 13 rebounds and eight assists, while Carmelo Anthony finished with 15 points, seven rebounds, three steals and a pair of blocked shots.

-- Utah star rookie Donovan Mitchell scored a team-best 27 points in the Game 1 defeat. He also had 10 rebounds, three assists and two steals, hitting 11-of-22 FGAs. Mitchell inured his foot, but he’s nonetheless listed as ‘probable’ for tonight’s Game 2. Rudy Gobert made 6-of-8 shots from the field and finished with 14 points, seven rebounds and two rejections. Making his career postseason debut, Ricky Rubio contributed 13 points, seven rebounds, five assists and four steals, but he committed three turnovers and made only 5-of-18 FGAs. Joe Ingles and Jae Crowder scored 13 points apiece.

-- OKC has compiled a 28-14 SU record and a 17-24-1 ATS mark at home.

-- Utah (48-35 SU, 43-40 ATS) is 20-22 SU and 21-21 ATS in its road assignments.

-- All four regular-season meetings between these clubs were played before Christmas. OKC has won four in a row over the Jazz, covering the number in three straight head-to-head encounters. The ‘under’ was a winner in all four regular-season games before the ‘over’ prevailed in Game 1.

-- The ‘under’ is 46-37 overall for the Thunder, 23-19 in its home outings.

-- The ‘over’ is on a 6-2 run for Utah in its past eight games. The ‘over’ is 24-17-1 for the Jazz in its road assignments.

Western Conference First Round – Game 2 – Rockets lead 1-0
Minnesota at Houston (TNT, 9:35 p.m. ET)

-- As of Tuesday night, most betting shops had Houston (66-17 SU, 41-41-1 ATS) installed as a 10.5-point favorite with a total of 214.5. The Timberwolves were +600 on the money line (risk $100 to win $600).

-- Houston captured a 104-101 win over Minnesota as an 11.5-point home ‘chalk’ in Sunday’s series opener at Toyota Center. The Rockets never got ahead of the number, leading by 11 twice in the first quarter and by 10 a pair of times in the second stanza. The Timberwolves took several leads in the third quarter and went in front 86-85 with less than seven minutes remaining. James Harden stole the show with 44 points, eight assists, four rebounds and two steals. Clint Capela produced 24 points, 12 rebounds and three blocked shots. Chris Paul struggled, getting outplayed by both Jeff Teague and Derrick Rose. Paul made just 5-of-14 field-goal attempts, 1-of-6 from 3-point range and had more turnovers (six) than assists. The Wake Forest product finished with 14 points, three rebounds and two steals.

-- In the losing effort, Andrew Wiggins led five Minnesota players in double figures with 18 points and six rebounds. Rose and Jamal Crawford had excellent performances. Rose had 16 points and four assists, while Crawford tallied 15 points and two assists without a turnover. Teague contributed 15 points, nine rebounds, eight assists, one steal and one blocked shot. Jimmy Butler had 13 points, five boards, two steals and three assists without a turnover, while Karl-Anthony Towns was limited to eight points, 12 rebounds, two assists and one blocked shot.

-- Mike D’Antoni’s team is mired in a 0-5 ATS slump and has failed to cover the spread in seven of its past eight games.

-- Houston has now won all five head-to-head meetings with Minnesota this season, but the T-wolves finally covered the spread for the first time in Game 1. The ‘under’ is 3-2 in their five showdowns.

-- Houston forward Ryan Anderson has been out with an ankle sprain since April 3. After missing the series opener, there’s optimism that he could play tonight. Anderson averaged 9.3 points and 5.0 RPG in 66 regular-season contests, making 38.6 percent of his 3-pointers.

-- Houston is 9-18 ATS in 27 games as a double-digit ‘chalk’ this season.

-- Minnesota (47-36 SU, 38-42 ATS) is 17-25 SU and 18-23-1 ATS on the road this year.

-- Minnesota is a double-digit underdog tonight for only the third time all year. The T-wolves are 1-1 ATS in two such previous spots. They have limped to a 1-6 spread record in seven games as ‘dogs of seven points or more.

-- Antony Dinero, VI’s long-time NBA handicapper who is currently No. 2 out of in overall money (+36.83 Units!) out of 33 handicappers, thinks Minnesota needs more out of its star Jimmy Butler: “Despite James Harden’s monstrous opener, the Timberwolves hung around even though Jimmy Butler shot just 4-for-11 and never seemed to find a rhythm. He’ll be the key to how competitive this series will ultimately be because he had no reference point against the Rockets coming into the series, having missed all the regular-season meetings. He’s clearly not 100 percent but should be able to make a few adjustments and be more effective in his hometown in Game 2.”

Dinero continued, “The Wolves snapped their playoff drought on the strength of his 31 point-effort on the final night of the regular season against Denver, so it’s not like he’s a shell of himself out there. In the three games he played since returning from an injury that saw him out since late February, he shot 32 free throws. In Game 1, he shot three. Although he’s also got to do a better job on Harden defensively, he’s got to make sure to be more active trying to get into the paint and force the issue. It’s asking a lot from him, but the playoffs aren’t a merciful place.”

-- The ‘under’ has cashed in five straight games for the Rockets and is 8-1 in their last nine outings. They’ve watched the ‘under’ go 49-33-1 overall and 23-19 in their home outings.

-- The ‘over’ is 45-37-1 overall for Minnesota, 21-21 in its road contests.

-- The ‘over’ is 14-4 in the past 18 head-to-head meetings between these teams.

**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**

-- Sometimes the great ones can turn back the hands of time. On Monday night in Philadelphia, that’s exactly what 3-time NBA champion Dwyane Wade did for the Miami Heat. The greatest player in the franchise’s history logged 26 minutes of playing time in a reserve role, but he produced a game-high 28 points on 11-of-16 shooting from the field. Wade also had seven rebounds, three assists and a pair of steals in Miami’s 113-103 win as a 6.5-point underdog. The Heat, which ended the 76ers’ 17-game winning streak, is a two-point underdog for Thursday’s Game 2 back in South Florida.

-- Philadelphia star Joel Embiid is listed as ‘questionable’ for Game 3 at Miami.

-- Boston took a 2-0 series lead last night by beating Milwaukee 120-106 as a 1.5-point home favorite. Jaylen Brown was nothing short of sensational for the Celtics, producing 30 points on 12-of-22 FGAs and 5-of-12 makes from long distance. Terry Rozier added 23 points and eight assists without committing a turnover, while Al Horford finished with 16 points, five rebounds, two steals and four assists without a turnover. Marcus Morris had 18 points and five boards for the winners. The ‘over’ has hit in both games of the series. For Game 3 on Thursday, most spots have the Bucks installed as 6.5-point home ‘chalk’ with a total of 203.

-- The Celtics maintain the NBA’s best ATS record (52-30-2).

-- New Orleans took a commanding 2-0 series lead with a second straight road win at Portland late last night. The Pelicans finished the game on an 11-2 run to capture a 111-102 triumph as 6.5-point underdogs, hooking up money-line supporters with a return in the +240 neighborhood. Rajon Rondo and Jrue Holiday have dominated the Trail Blazers’ vaunted backcourt through two games. Holiday exploded for 33 points and nine assists compared to merely one turnover, burying 14-of-24 FGAs. Rondo nearly had a triple-double with 16 points, 10 boards and nine assists. Anthony Davis finished with 22 points, 13 boards, two steals and two blocks.

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

  
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