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Thursday's Playoff Tips
Editor's Note: Brian Edwards has hit five consecutive guaranteed plays, including Wednesday's winner on the Houston-Utah 'over.' Brian's guaranteed plays are on a 21-7 run (75.0%, +13.48 units), so don't miss out on tonight's pay-if-it wins-only selection!

Eastern Conference – Game 2
Cleveland at Toronto (ESPN, 6:05 p.m. ET)

-- Cleveland (55-35 straight up, 34-55-1 against the spread) never led in regulation of Game 1, but it erased deficits of 14 points in the first quarter, 13 points in the third and 10 in the fourth to force overtime at Toronto. Then in the extra session, triples from Kyle Korver and J.R. Smith, in addition to a bucket from Tristan Thompson inside, gave the Cavaliers a 113-107 edge with 2:17 remaining. They held on for a 113-112 win as seven-point underdogs, hooking up money-line backers with a +230 return (paid $230 on $100 bets). The 225 combined points went ‘over’ the 213.5-point total, but the ‘under’ would’ve been a winner in regulation when there 210 points scored.

-- LeBron James posted the 21st triple-double of his postseason career, producing 26 points, 11 rebounds, two blocked shots, one steal and 13 assists compared to only one turnover. James struggled at the free-throw line, making only 1-of-6 attempts. Smith scored 20 points thanks to 5-of-6 shooting from downtown, while Korver finished with 19 points on 5-of-12 marksmanship from beyond the arc. Thompson had 14 points and 12 rebounds, including nine offensive boards, while Jeff Green tallied 16 points, three assists, two steals, two rebounds and one blocked shot. Kevin Love contributed seven points and 13 rebounds, but he was a dismal 3-of-13 from the field. The Cavs had a remarkable 25/5 assist-to-turnover ratio.

-- Toronto’s DeMar DeRozan had 22 points, seven rebounds, five assists, three blocked shots and one steal in the Game 1 defeat. Jonas Valanciunas finished with 21 points and 21 boards, while Kyle Lowry added 18 points and 10 assists. Pascal Siakam was also in double figures with 11 points, Fred VanVleet had nine points, three rebounds and two assists, but he missed a pair of potential go-ahead shots in the final seconds of OT.

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-- As of Wednesday afternoon, most books had Toronto (63-26 SU, 47-41-1 ATS) installed as a 6.5-point ‘chalk’ with a total of 212.5. Bettors can take the Cavs on the money line for a +220 payout.

-- The updated series price at Sportsbook.ag has the Cavs as -135 favorites to advance past Toronto and into the East finals. The Raptors are now the +115 underdogs.

-- VegasInsider.com’s Kevin Rogers seems to be leaning toward the Cavs in Game 2. Rogers said, “The Cavaliers improved to 20-5 on the road in the playoffs against Eastern Conference opponents since LeBron James returned to Cleveland in 2014. Cleveland’s domination of Toronto in the playoffs is obvious as the Cavs have won nine of the past 11 meetings in the postseason, including four straight at Air Canada Center. On the flip side, the Raptors have been a tough team to back off a Game 1 loss in the playoffs by posting a 1-5-1 ATS record since 2014.”

-- Cleveland has been an underdog of six points or more twice this season, going 1-1 both SU and ATS.

-- Toronto has posted a 27-23 spread record in 50 games as a favorite of six points or more.

-- The Cavs are 6-1-1 ATS in their past eight head-to-head meetings with Toronto. They’re 5-1-1 ATS in their past seven road contests with the Raptors.

-- VanVleet, a second-year guard who had a storied collegiate career at Wichita St., missed four of six games in the Washington series dealing with a shoulder injury. Although he played in the Game 6 win over the Wizards and Game 1 vs. Cleveland, VanVleet is listed as ‘questionable’ for Thursday’s Game 2. He averaged 8.6 points, 3.2 assists and 2.4 rebounds per game in 76 regular-season games.

-- The ‘over’ has cashed at a 4-1 clip in the last five encounters between these Eastern Conference adversaries.

-- The ‘under’ is 46-42-2 overall for the Cavs, but they’ve seen the ‘over’ go 23-22 in their road outings.

-- The ‘over’ is 45-43-1 overall for the Raptors, but totals have been a wash in their home games (22-22-1).

Eastern Conference – Game 2
Philadelphia at Boston (TNT, 8:35 p.m. ET)

-- Boston (60-30 SU, 56-32-2 ATS) won the series opener Monday night by capturing a 117-101 victory as a five-point home underdog. The Celtics hooked up money-line supporters with a +175 payout (paid $175 on $100 wagers). The trio of Terry Rozier, Jayson Tatum and Al Horford were nothing short of sensational. Rozier scored a team-high 29 points thanks to making 11-of-18 field-goal attempts and 7-of-9 launches from 3-point range. Tatum, the rookie out of Duke with the smooth shooting stroke, scored 28 points on 8-of-16 shooting from the field. He made 11-of-12 free-throw attempts. Horford produced 26 points, seven rebounds and four assists, burying 10-of-12 FGAs, 2-of-3 attempts from long distance and all four of his FTAs. Marcus Smart added nine points, three rebounds, one steal and nine assists compared to just one turnover. Marcus Morris scored 11 points and snagged five rebounds in nearly 28 minutes of playing time off the bench. The C’s made 17-of-35 treys (48.6%) and 18-of-19 FTAs (94.7%).

-- In the Game 1 defeat, Joel Embiid scored a game-high 31 points to go with 13 rebounds, five assists and one steal. J.J. Redick added 20 points, three rebounds and three assists compared to only one turnover, while Ben Simmons contributed 18 points, seven rebounds, six assists, two steals and one blocked shot. Dario Saric finished with 12 points, seven boards, one steal and four assists without a turnover, and Marco Belinelli was also in double figures with 11 points. The 76ers were off the mark from 3-point range, hitting only 5-of-26 attempts (19.2%).

-- Brad Stevens’s squad is 32-14 SU and 27-17-2 ATS at home this year. The Celtics have been home underdogs nine times, compiling an incredible 9-0 spread record with eight outright victories.

-- Philadelphia (56-32 SU, 51-35-2 ATS) is 24-20 SU and 22-20-2 ATS in its road assignments.

-- As of Wednesday afternoon, most books had the 76ers listed as a four-point favorite with a total of 206. The Celtics were +145 to win outright (risk $100 to win $145).

-- Despite dropping the series opener, the 76ers are still -220 ‘chalk’ to win the series at Sportsbook.ag. The offshore shop has the Celtics as +185 underdogs. They have +650 odds to win the East, 60/1 odds to win the NBA Championship. Philadelphia is the +200 favorite to win the East and has 12/1 odds to win their first NBA title since sweeping the Lakers in the 1983 Finals. That ’83 starting lineup included Mo Cheeks at point guard, Andrew Toney at shooting guard, Julius Erving at small forward, Marc Ivaroni at power forward and Moses Malone at center.

-- Horford has been terrific in eight postseason games to date, averaging 19.1 PPG while draining 62.0 percent of his FGAs, 47.4 percent of his 3-pointers and 78.9 percent of his FTs. He’s also averaged 8.5 rebounds, 3.4 assists and 1.3 blocked shots per game. Rozier has played outstanding basketball as well, averaging 19.0 points, 6.6 assists, 4.8 rebounds and 1.3 SPG. The third-year guard has a stellar 53/13 assist-to-turnover ratio and has buried 43.8 percent of his trifectas.

-- The ‘over’ is on a 12-3 run for the Celtics in their last 15 games. They’ve seen the ‘over’ go 49-40-1 overall, 27-19 in their home outings.

-- The ‘over’ is 44-43-1 overall for the 76ers, 24-20 in their road assignments.

-- Including the loss in Game 1, the 76ers have gone 15-7 SU and 12-10 ATS as road favorites this year, while the ‘over’ has gone 17-5. Chris David of VegasInsider.com has been riding that ‘over’ angle and believes the high side is worth a look again in Game 2.

-- “The 76ers haven’t been held under 100 points this season as road favorites and even though the 101-point effort in Game 1 was tied for the lowest production in that role this season, the results were clearly based on poor shooting. Philadelphia had a nice pace (83 shots) and it got to the free throw line 35 times but a 5-of-26 (19%) performance from 3-point land did them in,” explained David.

-- He added, “Fortunately for ‘over’ bettors in Game 1, the poor offensive numbers by the 76ers was countered with an eye-opening 17-of-35 effort from 3-point land by Boston. While many would expect that percentage to drop and it likely will, the Celtics should still get plenty of attempts from 3-point land based on how Philadelphia matches up defensively. Plus we shouldn’t forget that Boston’s offense is a much better team at home in the playoffs. I do expect the 76ers to produce better numbers in Game 2 from the outside and that will force Boston to play keep-up. The total is in the same neighborhood as Game 1 and the ‘over’ seems doable.”

-- Boston has busted the century mark in four of five games this postseason at TD Garden and since Brad Stevens became head coach, the team is averaging 106.7 PPG in home playoff games which has helped the ‘over’ go 13-7.

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

  
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