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Wednesday's Tip Sheet



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Editor's note: Brian Edwards has taken three bad beats recently, including both of Monday's underdogs (Toronto +5 and Portland +6.5) who lost in overtime. He was also victim of a wrong-side winner when Game 1 of Toronto-Miami went to OT only because of Kyle Lowry's halfcourt buzzer shot that left 'under' backers with an 'L' when the game otherwise would've hit on 177 combined points. Nevertheless, Brian still owns a 15-9 record (63%, +5.2 units) since April 25. Even better, he's cashed 10 of his last 13 guaranteed plays, including an OKC winner last night! Don't miss out on tonight's pay-if-it-wins-only selection!

**Miami at Toronto**

-- Miami (54-39 straight up, 50-42-1 against the spread) and Toronto haven’t settled anything through four games. The series is knotted at 2-2 after the Heat rallied late in regulation to force overtime and eventually capture a 94-87 win in Monday’s Game 4. Miami’s OT cover as a 4.5-point home favorite produced yet another wrong-side winner in this best-of-seven set. Despite the extra session, the ‘under’ still cashed with the 181 combined points staying below the 194 points.

-- I had Toronto and the ‘under’ in Game 4. I also had the ‘under’ in Games 1 and 2. The series opener was poised to hit 177 combined points before Kyle Lowry’s halfcourt heave at the buzzer forced overtime. Due to the extra session, Miami’s 102-96 victory saw the 198 combined points inch ‘over’ the 192-point total. Lowry had missed his first six 3-point attempts and was 2-of-12 from the field before hitting the buzzer beater on the lowest-percentage shot he took the entire game. That was the first bad beat of the series and even those on the Heat as an underdog (+4) and on the money line (+160) had to suffer through OT before cashing a winner. From a gambling standpoint, the Game 1 results for the side and total set an eerie tone that continues to hang over this series.

-- In Game 2, Toronto won a 96-92 decision as a five-point home favorite in yet another overtime game. This time around, the ‘under’ cashed despite the extra session with the 188 combined points falling just shy of the 189-point tally. The Raptors’ All-Stars DeMar DeRozan and Lowry missed one free throw apiece in the last 11 seconds to prevent ‘over’ backers from cashing another miracle winner. Lowry’s miss from the charity stripe with five seconds remaining also prevented Toronto supporters from getting a fortunate push. I had Miami and the ‘under’ in Game 2 to go 2-0, but there were anxious moments galore all the way to the horn. The Heat allowed a 77-70 lead midway through the fourth quarter to get away.

-- Toronto won Saturday’s Game 3 by a 95-91 count. Lowry, an All-Star who has been playing horrible throughout this postseason, finally regained his form in the second half by scoring 29 of his 33 points to propel his team to a 2-1 series advantage. The Raptors won outright as 5.5-point underdogs, hooking up money-line supporters with a sweet +200 return (risk $100 to win $200). The 186 combined points dipped ‘under’ the 187.5-point total.

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-- Let’s get back to Monday’s Game 4 and just stick to what happened with the total for now. Toronto starting center Jonas Valanciunas sprained his ankle in Game 3 and was ruled out for the rest of the series. Valanciunas had scored 16 points and grabbed 12 rebounds in only 22 minutes of playing time before sustaining the injury. However, Miami starting center Hassan Whiteside also injured his knee in Game 3 and was out for Game 4. Nevertheless, we saw the total for Game 4 curiously moved 6.5 points to 194. On one hand, you could see that Whiteside’s absence would take the Heat’s rim protector away. After all, Whiteside averaged an NBA-best 3.7 blocked shots per game during the regular season and was swatting away 2.8 attempts per game in these playoffs. But Whiteside, who has been averaging 12.0 points and 11.0 rebounds per game during the postseason, left Game 3 after playing only eight minutes and the ‘under’ still cashed. And now Toronto would be without Valanciunas, who had recorded four consecutive double-doubles and was averaging 18.3 points per game in the series. This meant Toronto’s offense was taking a hit, especially considering the unfathomable struggles of Lowry and DeRozan in recent weeks.

-- Therefore, I confidently backed the ‘under’ again. In fact, I got a taste of some of the adjusted lines by going ‘under’ 189.5 (+155), ‘under’ 188.5 (+160) and ‘under’ 187.5 (+175) with real small plays. After witnessing Games 1 and 2, I was already thinking about the potential of overtime at intermission. Therefore, I took ‘over’ 98 for the second half, which was ‘over’ 177 points adjusted since the Heat had a 44-35 lead at halftime. Although yet another overtime period produced some serious anxiety, it prompted the second-half ‘over’ play to hit and all the ‘unders’ were winners as well.

-- The wrong-side winner for Game 4 was the Heat, who trailed by nine when Terrence Ross drained a 3-pointer from the right wing in transition with 6:39 remaining. With 4:11 left, Dwyane Wade’s bucket trimmed the deficit to 79-74. After a defensive stop, Wade scored again on a driving layup and made the subsequent free throw after being fouled. With the Raptors clinging to an 81-79 advantage with 1:58 remaining, Lowry hooked Justise Winslow on a drive to the basket for his sixth foul. Wade would pull Miami even on another driving layup with 12 ticks left, and Cory Joseph missed a potential game winner at the buzzer to end regulation. With 22 seconds remaining in OT, Miami had the ball and a two-point lead. Goran Dragic drove to the basket and made a layup and was fouled. His free throw put the Heat ahead of the number with a five-point lead. On Toronto’s next possession, Wade ripped a steal from Ross and dunked to provide the final score. With a chance to still cover, Ross turned the ball over again and Miami ran out the clock.

-- Wade scored 30 points to give him 34 career postseason games with 30 points or more. He also passed the great Magic Johnson for 13th on the all-time scoring list in NBA Playoff history. The Marquette product made 13-of-24 shots from the field. Dragic (5-16 FGs) and Joe Johnson (5-13) scored 15 points apiece despite struggling with their shot from the field. To his credit, though, Johnson made all five of his free throws and they were all at crunch time. Johnson had three steals, two blocked shots and three assists without committing a turnover, while Dragic had six rebounds and four assists. After taking a DNP in Game 3, Winslow logged 31 minutes and scored nine points on 4-of-5 shooting from the floor. He had four rebounds, one assist and one steal.

-- DeRozan and Lowry were awful again in Game 4. DeRozan did jam his thumb in Game 3 and was playing in pain. He went 4-of-17 from the field to finish with only nine points. DeRozan had zero assists and committed three turnovers. As for Lowry, at least he found a way to help his team by playing a solid floor game. The Villanova product had nine assists, seven rebounds and four steals, but he wasn’t available in OT and committed four turnovers. He was 2-of-11 from the field and scored only 10 points. Ross and Joseph scored 14 points apiece from off the bench, while Bismack Biyombo produced 13 points, 13 boards and a pair of blocked shots.

-- Lowry averaged 21.2 points, 6.4 assists, 4.7 rebounds and 2.1 steals per game during the regular season. He shot at a 42.7 percent clip from the field and made 38.8 percent of his 3-point attempts. In the playoffs, however, Lowry is averaging 15.0 points, 6.9 assists, 4.2 rebounds and 1.8 steals per game. He is hitting only 33.1 percent from the field and 19.7 percent from downtown. DeRozan averaged 23.5 PPG during the regular season while hitting 44.6 percent from the field and 33.8 percent from long distance. In the playoffs, he has averaged 17.7 PPG while making only 33.0 percent from the field and is an atrocious 3-of-19 from behind the line (15.8%).

-- Toronto (62-31 SU, 48-45 ATS) is 36-11 SU and 24-23 ATS at home this year.

-- Miami is 22-24 SU and 23-23 ATS on the road this season.

-- The ‘under’ has cashed at a 10-2 clip in Toronto’s last 12 games. The ‘under’ is 48-44-1 overall for the Raptors, but the ‘over’ is 25-22 in their home games.

-- The ‘under’ is on an 8-1 run in Miami’s last nine games. The Heat has seen the ‘under’ go 55-37-1 overall, 27-18-1 in its road assignments.

-- The Westgate SuperBook opened Toronto as a 4.5-point home favorite for Wednesday’s Game 5. The total was 187.5 on the send-out early Tuesday morning, but the tally was moved up to 188.5 within two hours. The Raptors are favored by 2.5 points for first-half wagers, while Miami is +165 on the money line (risk $100 to win $165).

-- VegasInsider.com’s Chris David leans to the Heat on the side. David said, “This is a real tough game to handicap and I can make arguments for both teams. Even though Miami barely covered in Game 4 as a favorite, the underdog covered the first three games in this series. It’s hard not to grab the points with the Heat, especially knowing that Toronto is 1-10-1 versus the number in its last 12 playoff games at the Air Canada Centre. However, the Raptors haven’t lost two straight games in this year’s playoffs and they’ve only dropped back-to-back games once since the All-Star break.”

-- David had this take on the total: “The total for Game 4 was steamed up from 188 to 194 as bettors were expecting a run ‘n gun game with the two centers out for each club. The logic made sense but neither team has been in great form offensively and that was evident on Monday as the pair combined for 7-of-35 (20%) from 3-point land. While the ‘under’ has been a great lean for both the Heat (8-3) and Raptors (9-2) in this year’s playoffs, I’m leaning to the high side in Game 5. Toronto has played better offensively off a loss (96.3 PPG) in the postseason and its defense at home hasn’t exactly been stellar (94 PPG) over this span.”

-- Whiteside has been ruled ‘out’ for Game 5.

-- Tip-off is scheduled for 8:00 p.m. Eastern on TNT.

**Portland at Golden State**

-- I remember where I was when Michael Jordan hit six 3-pointers and scored 35 points in the first half of Game 1 of the 1992 NBA Finals vs. Portland. I vividly recall Larry Bird’s fourth-quarter explosion to lift Boston past Atlanta in Game 7 of the 1988 Eastern Conference semifinals. And after Monday, I’ll always remember the night when Steph Curry came back from a knee injury and went wild in overtime of Game 4 at Portland in the West semifinals. It was on the same level as MJ, Larry Legend and other epic postseason performances in NBA history. It was downright nasty. You can apply all the adjectives – incredible, sensational or spectacular. Or you can just use the word his head coach Steve Kerr applied: “unreal.” Curry’s team trailed nearly the entire game and was staring at a 2-2 series tie. He was rusty after missing four consecutive games and more than two weeks due to a sprained knee.

-- Coming off the bench for the first time since 2012, Curry didn’t enter the game until his team was down 16-2. He missed his first nine attempts from 3-point land and was 6-of-18 from the field going into the fourth quarter. When Shaun Livingston was ejected for back-to-back technical fouls in the second quarter, it was clear that Curry would be forced to play major minutes in the second half. Livingston’s ejection ended up being a good thing, as Curry finally started to find his form late in the fourth quarter. He buried a crucial trey to trim Portland’s lead to one with 2:01 remaining. Though Curry missed a good look for a potential game winner at the end of regulation, he exploded in overtime. He scored 17 points – the most ever by a player in NBA history during the regular season or the playoffs – to spark the Warriors to a 132-125 win as six-point home favorites.

-- Gamblers (like me) backing the Trail Blazers as six-point underdogs were left to rip up tickets that should’ve cashed. The ‘over’ had already hit at the end of regulation (111-111) with the 222 combined points jumping ‘over’ the 214-point total. Bettors on Portland to win outright (+220ish) were also prompted to check into the Heartbreak Hotel. Terry Stotts’s team led by 10 at halftime, hooking up money-line supporters in the first half with a +160 payout.

-- Curry finished Game 4 with 40 points, nine rebounds and eight assists, making 10 of his last 14 shots from the field. Draymond Green contributed 21 points, nine boards, seven blocked shots, five assists and four steals. Klay Thompson scored 23 points, while Mo Speights had 11 points in just nine minutes off the bench.

-- Damian Lillard had 36 points, 10 assists and six rebounds in the losing effort. C.J. McCollum added 24 points, while Al-Farouq Aminu produced 18 points and 13 rebounds. Mason Plumlee also had a double-double with 12 points and 15 boards.

-- I don’t believe in bulletin-board material at this time of year. However, for those that do and think it will give Portland a boost in Game 5, there was this quote from Green after Game 4: “Do I think they’re done? Of course I think they’re done.”

-- The Westgate opened Golden State (80-11 SU, 52-37-2 ATS) as an 11.5-point favorite with a total of 215 points. As of early Tuesday night, the line had moved up to 12.5 and the total was adjusted to 216.5. The Trail Blazers were available on the money line for a monster +800 return (risk $100 to win $800). The Warriors were 7.5-point ‘chalk’ for first-half bets.

-- Golden State owns a 44-2 SU record and a 27-19 ATS mark at home in Oracle Arena this year.

-- Portland (49-43 SU, 48-44 ATS) is 17-29 SU and 24-22 ATS on the road this season.

-- The ‘over’ is 49-43 overall for the Trail Blazers, 25-21 in their road assignments.

-- The ‘over’ is 49-41-1 overall for the Warriors, 24-21-1 in their home games.

-- VI’s David offered this analysis for Game 5: “Saying the Warriors will win in Game 5 isn’t exactly a profound prediction and it’s more than likely going to happen. Covering double digits is another story and while Golden State has gone 30-2 in the regular season when laying 10-plus points at home, it’s only 16-16 versus the number. Normally, I’d lean to the ‘dog and the points in this spot but I’m hesitant to back a Portland team that is now 1-4 both SU and ATS in this year’s playoffs. And that win came against a short-handed Clippers team when they couldn’t miss a shot in the final quarter. I’d rather not back a team that needs to shoot a high percentage and it’s hard to ignore the fact the Blazers are 0-6 (2-4 ATS) as double-digit ‘dogs this season, losing by an average of 14.5 PPG.”

-- TNT will have the broadcast at 10:35 p.m. Eastern.

Follow Brian Edwards' daily sports gambling analysis on twitter at @vegasbedwards.

  
 
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