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Playoff Results | Playoff Projections

Eastern Conference First Round - Game 4 - Raptors lead 2-1
Toronto at Washington (TNT, 6:05 p.m. ET)

In a complete reversal from what transpired in Game 1 and all regular season, the Wizards’ bench has managed to outplay Toronto’s reserves. That difference and homecourt advantage help Washington turn around an early deficit to get back in the East’s 1-8 series with a 122-103 rout. This Game 4 affords the Raptors an opportunity to prove that everything it did over the course of 82 games to be installed as the betting favorite in the entire Eastern Conference was no fluke. Over the past few seasons, they’ve proven unreliable this time of year, reaching just one conference finals in five years despite being a top-four seed each time. This game is vital to keeping the heat off so early in the playoffs.

If they’re going to make a run to finally break through, the Raptors have to prove they’ll be able to win on the road. They’ll also have to impose their will by capitalizing on their depth, an edge that materialized to help make the difference in a 114-106 Game 1 win where they had a 42-21 advantage off the bench. Since then, Washington has a 98-73 lead in that department.

John Wall shook off a Game 1 where he shot 6-for-20 from the field and has been tremendous since, averaging 28.5 points and 13.5 assists while shooting over 50 percent despite missing all six of his 3-point shots. If he gets that part of his game going, the Raptors defense will be in a significant amount of trouble. Backcourt mate Bradley Beal followed up his 3-for-11 no-show by tying Wall with a game-high 28 points on Friday.

The Wizards will be a confident group as they take the floor looking to extend their playoff home winning streak to eight in order to get even in this series.

[...] opened Game 4 at a pick ‘em while most Vegas shops opened Toronto -1 and as of Saturday, the Raptors are -1 ½ across the board and as high as -2.

While the early action believes Washington’s effort in Game 3 was a fluke, Chris David of warns bettors to be careful of backing the Raptors.

He explained, “There’s no doubt that Toronto is a serious contender and this team built the second-best record in the league by winning at home (34-7) and dominating teams with losing records (35-2). On the road, the Raptors were solid (25-16) in the regular season but they were only 8-12 against playoff teams. Including Friday’s loss, Toronto has dropped five straight to playoff squads and the defense has allowed 118.4 PPG.”

“The book appears to be out on Washington in the playoffs. Fade them on the road and back them at home. Going back to last postseason, the Wizards have won seven straight home playoff games (5-2 ATS) at Capital One Arena. Since 2014, Toronto is now 5-15 SU and 6-14 ATS on the road in the postseason,” added David.

Toronto hopes to have one of its most consistent bench performers available as backup point guard Fred VanVleet hopes to return from a shoulder injury that has limited him to just three minutes all series. If he’s unable to play, Delon Wright will continue to get extended minutes despite shooting just 5-for-17 over the last two games after being the x-factor in the opener with 17 points.

Washington’s Mike Scott has shot 18-for-24 from the field and has averaged 15.3 points, so his emergence has been one reason that the over has prevailed in all three contests.

The teams have combined for at least 120 points in all three games, topping out at the 249 they tallied in Game 2. The total here opened at 219 and has settled at 218.5 late Saturday.

Eastern Conference First Round - Game 4 - Pacers lead 2-1
Cleveland at Indiana (TNT, 8:35 p.m. ET)

The supporting cast surrounding LeBron James is so thin that point guard George Hill’s lack of availability in the second half of Game 3 helped contribute to an epic collapse that saw the three-time reigning Eastern Conference champs blow a 17-point second-half lead in Indiana.

Hill is listed as questionable due to back spasms after playing in only nine second-half minutes as Cleveland squandered a 57-40 lead, falling behind in the final few minutes and losing 92-90 when J.R. Smith came up short on a heave just inside halfcourt despite other open teammates appearing to have better looks.

LeBron James didn’t throw any of his teammates under the bus despite getting little help for the third straight game in a series that has seen Kevin Love play through an injured thumb and all of Cleveland’s key midseason acquisitions wilt amid the playoff spotlight. James is averaging 32.7 points, 11.3 rebounds and 8.3 assists but has been unable to count on anyone but Love and Hill for veteran contributions.

Smith has struggled. Korver has shot 28.6 percent from the field, and although he’s 4-for-13 from 3-point range, he’s come up empty from beyond the arc in Games 1 and 3. Jeff Green was a awful in the opener but has been better of late, while neither Jordan Clarkson, Rodney Hood nor Larry Nance has emerged in the manner James hoped when the roster overhaul rejuvenated the Cavs in February.

There appears to be no cohesion between the best NBA player of the current generation and his younger teammates, but all isn’t lost because James is definitely firing on all cylinders, which includes shooting 6-for-12 from 3-point range after missing all four of his long-range attempts in the series opener.

The Pacers have to feel confident in their ability to keep Cleveland’s supporting cast from finding a rhythm since they’ve had Victor Oladipo, Thaddeus Young and Lance Stephenson really put in the work on defense. A victory here would give them three opportunities to put down the Cavs, potentially ending a second LeBron era in Cleveland in the process.

Indiana opened as a 1-point favorite, but the game has since been bet down to a pick’em. If Hill can't play, Clarkson might move into the starting lineup, but it's more likely that veteran Jose Calderon would get the call after sitting out entirely on Friday night.

The ‘under’ has cashed in the first three games of this series and VI’s David believes the low side is the right lean again.

He said, “Even though both these teams have shown offensive flashes throughout the season and even in a couple quarters of this series, the defense outshined the offense in this particular matchup. Plus, those units have been helped by the fact that the Cavaliers (31%, 67%) and Pacers (33%, 70%) have been terrible from both 3-point land and the free throw stripe. Another factor helping the ‘under’ has been the pace, which has been super slow. Both clubs are averaging 76 field goal attempts and that’s ranked last in this year’s playoffs.”

Including Friday’s outcome, the ‘under’ is on a 6-1-1 between the pair and Indiana has now seen the ‘under’ go 25-15-2 at home this season.

The total in Game 1 closed at 212 ½ and is now down to 205 ½ for the fourth installment.

Follow Tony Mejia on Twitter at @TonyMejiaNBA or e-mail him at [email protected]

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