Tuesday's Tip Sheet
April 15, 2019
By Kevin Rogers
First Round Predictions | First Round Odds | Playoff Trends
Game 2 – Magic at Raptors – 8:05 PM EST – TNT
Orlando leads series, 1-0
Although both these teams won their respective divisions, many people believed that Toronto would cruise past Orlando. There is still a long way to go in this series, but the Magic stunned the Raptors, 104-101 in Game 1 on Saturday to pick up the franchise’s first playoff victory since 2012 against Indiana. However, the Magic went on to lose the next four games and get knocked out, 4-1.
In the series opener against the Raptors, it was a tale of who would have the ball last as Toronto led by five after one quarter, but Orlando stormed back to grab a 57-49 halftime advantage. The Raptors rallied to take a one-point lead heading into the final quarter as the two went back and forth before D.J. Augustin’s three-pointer with five seconds remaining to go ahead for good.
Orlando cashed as 9 ½-point underdogs, which was the biggest ‘dog to win outright this past weekend. Augustin knocked down 4-of-5 three-point attempts, while scoring 25 points as seven Magic players finished in double-figures. The Magic overcame terrible shooting performances from Nikola Vucevic (3-of-14) and Terrence Ross (2-of-11), but Orlando converted 18-of-20 free throw attempts to beat Toronto for the third time in five tries this season.
Kawhi Leonard paced the Raptors with 25 points in his first playoff game since Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals against Golden State in 2017. However, point guard Kyle Lowry was held scoreless on 0-for-7 shooting, as Toronto slipped to 1-9 in the last 10 playoff series openers since 2014.
The Magic have stepped up on the road of late by compiling a 5-2 SU/ATS record in the last seven games away from central Florida. Orlando was riding a seven-game OVER streak prior to the UNDER of 212 in Game 1, while Toronto compiled a 7-2 mark to the OVER in its previous nine home playoff games before the UNDER on Saturday.
The total on Game 2 opened at 210 ½ and the early action pushed the number up to 212. Chris David of VegasInsider.com offered up his thoughts on the second installment from Canada.
He explained, “The total on Game 1 opened at 216 but closed at 212 ½ and even though the ‘under’ cashed, bettors had to put in a full 48 minutes and they were fortunate to avoid overtime as well. At the end of the day, Saturday’s total result was decided by Toronto’s 19-point effort in the second quarter and Orlando’s 18-point third quarter. The Raptors fell in love with the 3-point shot in the loss as they hoisted up 36 attempts from downtown. That heavy lean to the outside kept them off the free-throw line as Toronto finished 9-of-14 from the stripe, which was well below their FT season average at home (21.5 attempts).”
David added, “The good news for Toronto is that it’s only lost back-to-back games at home twice during this year’s regular season and the second losses in those decisions came by a combined three points. The Raptors have been known to struggle in Game 1’s but Game 2 is a different story, especially when they’re not facing a team led by LeBron James. In their last four Game 2’s at home against opponents that didn’t include LeBron, the Raptors have gone 4-0 SU and 3-1 ATS behind a defense that only allowed 99.5 PPG. Orlando’s win was very impressive on Saturday but the offense still remains inconsistent. In 21 of its 39 losses this season, the Magic were held to 100 or less points. I don’t see Orlando going up 2-0 here and my top lean would be to their Team Total Under (101).”
Game 2 – Spurs at Nuggets – 9:05 PM EST – NBA TV
San Antonio leads series, 1-0
The third underdog to win on Saturday was the Spurs, who knocked off the Nuggets, 101-96 as 5 ½-point underdogs in the 2/7 matchup in the Western Conference. San Antonio became the first team in this series in 11 tries to win on the other team’s court, while avenging a pair of defeats at Pepsi Center from earlier this season, including a 113-85 setback less than two weeks ago.
Not one Spur scored more than 18 points, but San Antonio used a balanced attack, led by DeMar DeRozan’s 18 points and 12 rebounds. Derrick White came back to his home state of Colorado to post 16 points on 7-of-10 shooting, while backcourt mate Bryn Forbes put up a playoff career-high 15 points for the Spurs. San Antonio picked up its first Game 1 playoff victory since 2017 against Memphis in the opening round.
The Nuggets sure didn’t look like a division winner following a 54-win campaign as Denver shot 42% from the floor, including a dreadful 6-of-28 from three-point range. Jamal Murray struggled from the field with an 8-of-24 performance, while failing to hit a shot from long distance in six tries. Nikola Jokic registered a triple-double with 10 points, 14 rebounds, and 14 assists, as Denver lost at home to San Antonio for the first time since January 2017.
The Spurs and Nuggets finished UNDER the total for the fifth time in five matchups this season, while the losing team was limited to below 100 points for the third time. San Antonio improved to 5-10 in its last 15 road playoff games dating back to 2016, as Gregg Popovich’s team last won a postseason series without home-court advantage in 2010 against Dallas in the opening round.
Along with Toronto evening up its series on Tuesday, David believes Denver will get a much-needed split at the Pepsi Center but he feels the sound investment is on the ‘under’ in Game 2. David said, “The perception of the Nuggets as a run ‘n shoot team is gone and I wouldn’t be surprised to see this total drop lower as the series continues. Denver has watched the ‘under’ go 10-2 at home since the All-Star break and it’s held six teams under 100 points during this span, which rarely happens in the NBA these days.”
“The Nuggets are ranked second in scoring defense (103.5 PPG) at home and San Antonio wasn’t exactly sharp in Game 1. Fortunately, Pop’s team was helped with a 31-point night from the bench and I don’t see the crafty veterans repeating that effort. I expect another grinder and I would lean to the Team Total Under (101) for the visitor.”
Game 2 – Thunder at Blazers – 10:35 PM EST – TNT
Portland leads series, 1-0
All eyes were on Oklahoma City potentially beating Portland for a fifth time this season in Sunday’s Game 1 at the Moda Center. However, the Thunder couldn’t throw one in the water from downtown (5-of-29), as OKC fell to its division rival for the first time this season in a 104-99 setback as three-point underdogs.
The Blazers snapped several dubious playoff streaks on Sunday, including a 10-game skid dating back to 2016, while capturing their first postseason series opening victory since 2014 against Houston in overtime of round one. Damian Lillard led Portland with 30 points, including drilling a key three-pointer in the final minutes after the Thunder cut the deficit to one point. Mid-season acquisition Enes Kanter burned his former team by posting a 20-point, 18-rebound performance for Portland, who improved to 10-1 the last 11 games when limiting their opponent to less than 100 points.
Thunder All-Stars Paul George and Russell Westbrook combined to score 50 points, but shot a horrific 4-of-19 from three-point range. With that loss, Oklahoma City slipped to 0-7 SU and 3-4 ATS on the road in the playoffs since Kevin Durant packed his bags for Golden State following the 2016 season.
In fact, the last road playoff win for Oklahoma City came at Golden State in Game 1 of the 2016 Western Conference Finals. The Blazers last picked up consecutive home playoff victories in the opening round back in 2016 against the Clippers, while the previous occasion in which Portland took a 2-0 series lead at home came way back in the 2000 conference semifinals against Utah, as it eventually won, 4-1.
You can reach Kevin Rogers via e-mail at email@example.com
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