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Wednesday's Late Tips
Editor’s Note: Brian Edwards is on a 28-20-2 run (58.3%, +7.3 Units) in the NBA since March 21. Going back to Feb. 13, Brian has produced a 48-35-2 NBA record (57.8%) to hook his clients up with 11.31 units of profit. Brian’s guaranteed plays are on a 16-5 run (76.2%, +10.65 units), so don’t miss out on tonight’s pay-if-it wins-only selection!

Eastern Conference Tips

Western Conference - Game 5 (Rockets lead 3-1)
Minnesota at Houston (NBATV, 9:35 p.m. ET)

-- Houston (68-18 straight up, 43-42-1 against the spread) took control of its first-round series against eighth-seeded Minnesota by exploding for a season-high 50 – yes, FIFTY! – points in the third quarter (alone) on its way to taking a 3-1 advantage with a 119-100 win as a six-point road favorite. The 219 combined points slithered ‘over’ the 217.5-point total.

-- Tied at the end of the first quarter and ahead by merely one point at intermission, Houston outscored Minnesota by 30 in the third quarter of Game 4. James Harden led the way for the winners with 36 points, four rebounds, four steals and three assists compared to just one turnover. The perennial All-Star guard and 2018 MVP candidate made 12-of-26 field-goal attempts, 5-of-11 launches from 3-point land and 7-of-7 free-throw attempts. Chris Paul produced 25 points, six rebounds, five steals and six assists compared to merely one turnover. Eric Gordon drained 4-of-10 treys in an 18-point effort, while Clint Capela made his presence felt with 14 points, 17 rebounds, four blocked shots and three assists. Trevor Ariza finished with 15 points, two boards and three assists without a turnover. The Rockets had a 20/6 assist-to-turnover ratio.

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-- Karl-Anthony Towns led Minnesota with 22 points and 15 rebounds in Game 4, while Jimmy Butler finished with 19 points, nine rebounds and five assists compared to only one turnover. Derrick Rose continued to have a strong series, contributing 17 points, six rebounds and four assists. Andrew Wiggins had 14 points, while Jamal Crawford finished with 19 points, four assists, three steals and two rebounds in defeat. Jeff Teague had a horrible game with only two points, five assists and three turnovers. He was 1-of-7 from the field and 0-of-3 from downtown.

-- As of early this morning, most books had Houston installed as a 12-point favorite with a total of 216.5. The Timberwolves were available for a generous +750 return on the money line (risk $100 to win $750).

-- Mike D’Antoni’s squad has produced a 36-7 SU record and a 18-24-1 ATS mark at home this season.

-- Minnesota (48-38 SU, 39-44-3 ATS) is 17-26 SU and 18-24-1 ATS in its road assignments this season.

-- Minnesota has lost 13 straight games at Houston. The Rockets are 7-1 SU and 6-2 ATS in eight games against the T-wolves this year. Five of the seven wins have come by lopsided margins of 18 points or more.

-- Teague left Game 4 with a jammed pinky finger on his right shooting hand, but he is listed as ‘probable’ for tonight’s Game 5. Teague is averaging 12.0 points, 5.5 assists, 3.5 rebounds and 0.8 steals in the series to date.

-- After missing nearly three weeks of action with a sprained ankle, Houston reserve forward and 3-point specialist Ryan Anderson returned to the court for Game 3 and 4 at Minnesota. Anderson logged 18-plus minutes of playing time in Game 3, scoring 12 points on 4-of-6 shooting from long distance. He also had three rebounds, one assist, one steal and one blocked shot in the losing effort. In Game 4, Anderson went scoreless on just three FGAs (all from downtown) in 17 minutes of action. The 10-year veteran out of Cal-Berkeley averaged 9.3 points and 5.0 rebounds during the regular season, draining 38.6 percent of his 3-balls.

-- VegasInsider.com NBA guru Antony Dinero is ranked No. 2 among 33 VI NBA handicappers in overall money (+25.97 Units) this season. Dinero believes it’s going to take a Herculean effort for Minnesota to find a way to force a Game 6, noting that Towns and Wiggins will have to make it happen. Dinero said, “The Timberwolves were able to pull off a Saturday night upset but have otherwise been outclassed by the West’s top seed. Despite Derrick Rose emerging as a consistent X-factor, Minnesota has really struggled to compete in part because both Karl-Anthony Towns and Andrew Wiggins have struggled to impose their will and deliver easy baskets in all three losses. It’s no coincidence that Towns and Wiggins each had their most effective performances in Game 3, combining for 38 points on 50.0 percent shooting. The young duo managed just 44 points on 45 shots in the first two losses at Houston and will have to step up their level of play significantly to get the T-wolves back home for a Game 6.”

-- VI’s Kevin Rogers is No. 3 among VI’s NBA handicappers in both overall money (+17.16 Units) and winning percentage (55%). He pointed out some interesting numbers that pertain to tonight’s matchup. Rogers said, “The Rockets enter Wednesday’s action at 6-17-1 ATS in their past 24 opportunities as a double-digit home favorite. Houston failed to cover in the series opener as an 11.5-point ‘chalk,’ but it routed Minnesota in Game 2 as a 10.5-point favorite. The T-wolves have lost 11 of their past 12 SU in the role of a road underdog dating back to Jan. 24, while covering the spread only four times in that span.”

-- The ‘over’ is 47-38-1 overall for Minnesota, but the ‘under’ is 22-21 in its road assignments.

-- The ‘under’ is 50-35-1 overall for the Rockets, 24-19 in their home games.

-- The ‘under’ was a winner in Games 1 and 2 at Houston before the ‘over’ hit in the past two games in Minneapolis. Totals have been an overall wash (4-4) in eight head-to-head meetings between these clubs this season. However, dating back several seasons, the ‘over’ is on a 16-5 run in the last 21 games of this rivalry.

-- Tip-off on TNT is scheduled for 9:30 p.m. Eastern.

Western Conference - Game 5 (Jazz lead 3-1)
Utah at Oklahoma City (TNT, 9:30 p.m.)

-- Utah (51-35 SU, 46-40 ATS) has won three games in a row over the Thunder to take a 3-1 series lead. First, Quin Snyder’s club outscored OKC 28-16 in the fourth quarter of Game 2 to pick up a 102-95 win as a 3.5-point road underdog. Next, the Jazz won a 115-102 decision as a five-point home ‘chalk’ Saturday in Salt Lake City. Then on Monday night as a five-point home favorite again, Utah outscored OKC by 23 combined points in the second and third quarters en route to a 113-96 victory.

-- As of early this morning, most spots had Oklahoma City (49-37 SU, 35-50-1 ATS) listed as a 3.5-point ‘chalk’ with a total of 207.5. The Jazz were +150 to win outright (risk $100 to win $150).

-- Sportsbook.ag has the updated series price as Utah -1100, with the Thunder as the +650 underdog (risk $100 to win $650).

-- Thing were quite chippy in Utah’s Game 4 win two nights ago, with several mini-skirmishes taking place and resulting in technical fouls. I would think the referees will try to set an early tone with quite a few whistles in hopes of preventing the game from getting too physical. This could lead to some early bonus situations and might make an ‘over’ in the first quarter or first half worth your consideration. Most spots had the first-quarter total at 50.5 (‘under’ -125, ‘over’ -105) this morning, while the first-half tally was 100.

-- In the Game 4 triumph, Utah rookie sensation was the catalyst once again with 33 points, seven rebounds, one blocked shot and four assists without a turnover. All five Jazz starters scored in double figures with Joe Ingles draining five treys on 11 attempts in a 29-point effort. Rody Gobert produced 16 points and 10 rebounds while making 7-of-11 FGAs. Ricky Rubio and Derrick Favors finished with 13 points apiece, as Rubio handed out eight helpers and pulled down six rebounds. Royce O’Neale contributed 10 points and nine rebounds in 20 quality minutes off the bench.

-- OKC’s Paul George had a team-best 32 points on Monday’s losing effort. He had six rebounds, two assists and two steals, but he committed six turnovers as well. The Thunder had an abysmal 10/14 assist-to-turnover ratio. Russell Westbrook went 7-of-18 from the field and finished with 23 points and 14 rebounds, but he had more turnovers (five) than assists (three). Carmelo Anthony made merely 5-of-18 FGAs and missed all six of his launches from beyond the arc. ‘Melo had 11 points, six rebounds and two blocked shots.

-- Westbrook has been in the middle of most of the tussles between these squads. He avoided a Game 5 suspension but was issued a $10,000 fine by the NBA and handed a postgame technical foul for coming on the court as a sub to confront Gobert during Monday’s defeat.

-- Utah has been absolutely on fire since Jan. 24, going 32-7 SU and 23-16 ATS. However, we’ll nonetheless note that the Jazz are just 1-4 both SU and ATS in its past five games as an underdog.

-- OKC owns a 28-15 SU record to go with a 17-25-1 ATS mark at home this year.

-- VI’s Dinero offered this take on OKC’s struggles: “Russell Westbrook has been dreadful offensively, while Carmelo Anthony has been tough to watch at both ends of the floor against Utah. The presence of Rudy Gobert has really kept the Thunder from getting as deep into the paint as they would like, so it’s critical that they do more damage from 3-point range than they have thus far. They’re a combined 9-for-40 from beyond the arc in the series, including 0-of-9 in Game 4. If that change in OKC, not even its excellent homecourt edge will make a difference.”

-- Although Westbrook, George and Anthony are postseason veterans (or ‘Melo was while with the Nuggets at least before his ill-fated tenure with the Knicks), it’s Rubio and Mitchell who have shined in their postseason debuts. Mitchell is averaging 27.5 points, 8.5 rebounds, 2.8 assists, 1.3 steals and 0.8 blocked shots per game in this series. The Louisville product has hit 45.3 percent of his FGAs, 34.5 percent of his 3-pointers and 87.5 percent of his FTs. Rubio is averaging 18.5 points, 8.0 assists, 7.8 rebounds, 2.0 steals and 0.8 blocked shots per game. The 27-year-old veteran of seven NBA seasons has a 32/14 assist-to-turnover ratio and has made 85.7 percent of his FTs.

-- Utah is 21-22 SU and 22-21 ATS on the road.

-- The ‘under’ is 43-42-1 overall for the Jazz, but the ‘over’ is 24-18-1 in its road assignments.

-- The ‘under’ is 47-39 overall for the Thunder, 24-19 in its home outings.

-- After cashing in both games at Utah, the ‘over’ is 3-1 in the series to date. However, the ‘under’ cashed in the four regular-season meetings of this rivalry.

-- NBA-TV will have the broadcast at 9:30 p.m. Eastern.

**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**

-- Golden State All-Star guard Steph Curry is listed as ‘doubtful’ for Friday’s Game 1 home game vs. New Orleans. In 51 regular-season games, Curry averaged 26.4 points, 6.1 assists, 5.1 rebounds and 1.6 steals per game.

-- After eliminating Miami last night to improve to 20-1 in its past 21 games, Philadelphia is now the +160 ‘chalk’ to win the Eastern Conference. The Raptors have the second-shortest odds (+170, risk $100 to win $170), while the Cavs are at +300. Boston is at 20/1, followed by the Pacers (40/1), Wizards (50/1) and Bucks (100/1).

-- Those above numbers to win the East are from Sportsbook.ag, as are these numbers to win the NBA Championship: Golden State is the -110 ‘chalk,’ while the Rockets have 2/1 odds. The 76ers are next at 8/1, followed by the Raptors (15/1), Cavs (18/1), Jazz (28/1), Pelicans (50/1), Celtics (100/1), Wizards (200/1), Pacers (250/1), Thunder (250/1), Bucks (500/1) and T-wolves (1,000/1).

-- I think the Pelicans are worth a super-small play at 50/1.

-- Milwaukee has been installed as a five-point home favorite vs. Boston for Thursday's Game 6. The Celtics took a 3-2 series advantage with last night’s 94-89 win as 4.5-point home favorites. The 183 combined dropped ‘under’ the 202.5-point tally to end a streak of eight straight ‘overs’ for the C’s. Milwaukee had seen the ‘over’ hit at a frenetic 19-2 clip in its 21 previous outings before Game 5. The total for Game 6 is 200 points.

-- I had a rough night with my picks Tuesday, but at least I kept my nice streak of guaranteed plays going with a winner on the Celtics. Since the playoffs started, my guaranteed picks are 7-1 (87.5%, +5.92 Units). You can get signed up for my postseason package here.

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

  
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