Wednesday’s Tip Sheet

First Round Predictions | First Round Odds | Playoff Trends

Game 2 – Pacers at Celtics – 7:05 PM EST – TNT
Boston leads series, 1-0

Indiana dropped three of four matchups with Boston this season, but looked to steal Game 1 of their first round series at TD Garden. The Pacers led the Celtics, 45-38 at halftime, but Indiana went ice-cold in the third quarter by getting outscored, 26-8, while converted only two field goals. Boston finished off Indiana, 84-74 to cash as 7 ½-point favorites and easily hit the UNDER on the total of 210 ½.

The Celtics improved to 4-0 in the last four playoff series openers, led by Kyrie Irving and Marcus Morris’ 20 points apiece. Irving shot 6-of-17 in his Boston postseason debut after missing last year’s run to the Eastern Conference Finals with a knee injury. Both the Celtics and Pacers were miserable from the floor (Indiana 33%, Boston 36%), but Nate McMillan’s squad misfired on 21-of-27 attempts from three-point range, while Cory Joseph led the way with 14 points.

Boston ended a seven-game ATS slide at TD Garden, marking its first home cover since March 1 against Washington. The 74 points allowed by the Celtics marks the best defensive effort this season as Boston yielded 77 points to Chicago on December 8, while Brad Stevens’ team gave up 83 points twice to Cleveland in last year’s Eastern Conference Finals. NBA expert Tony Mejia checks in with his take on this matchup, “It’s easy to go into Game 2 and ride the UNDER eyes-closed given the series-opening result, but keep in mind that the Pacers were only held under 90 points three times this season and bounced back to top the century mark each time they took the floor next. Since the Celtics have only had two instances where they held opponents under 100 points in consecutive games in 2019, trends favor Indiana bouncing back, but it is going to need a better game plan than it came out with to open the second half after leading at the break.”

From the Pacers’ perspective, Mejia breaks down what they need to do in order to bounce back, “Tyreke Evans will have to be more aggressive and Indiana will need Bojan Bogdanovic and Doug McDermott to shoot far better than they managed in shooting a combined 0-for-7 from 3-point range.”

Boston has won and covered in all four Game 2’s under Stevens after coming up victorious in Game 1, as all four wins came by double-digits. Indiana suffered only second ATS loss in the last 11 road playoff games dating back to 2016, while the Pacers were dealt their first postseason defeat by at least 10 points since Game 3 of the 2016 first round against the Raptors.

Game 2 – Pistons at Bucks – 8:05 PM EST – NBA TV
Milwaukee leads series, 1-0

It feels like this series was over even before it began when news broke that Pistons’ All-Star Blake Griffin was sidelined due to a lingering knee injury. Detroit didn’t have much of a chance even with Griffin available as the Pistons lost all four regular season meetings with the top-seeded Bucks, but Sunday’s Game 1 at Fiserv Forum was enough proof this series will be done quickly.

Milwaukee jumped out to a 38-18 advantage after one quarter and cruised to a 121-86 blowout over Detroit to improve to 5-0 SU and 4-0-1 ATS the last five matchups. All five Bucks’ starters finished in double-figures, led by MVP candidate Giannis Antetokounmpo’s 24-point, 17-rebound performance. The Bucks shot 49% from the floor and knocked down 15 three-pointers, while limiting Detroit to 38% shooting as reserve Luke Kennard led the Pistons with 21 points.

In the three losses at Fiserv Forum this season, the Bucks have outscored the Pistons by 23, 23, and 35, which doesn’t give Detroit backers a lot of faith even as hefty 15-point underdogs in Game 2. The last double-digit ‘dog that lost a first round series opener by more than 30 points and covered in Game 2 was the Mavericks in 2016, who tripped up the Thunder as 14-point underdogs, 85-84.

Game 2 – Jazz at Rockets – 9:35 PM EST – TNT
Houston leads series, 1-0

Last season, Houston needed five games to eliminate Utah in the second round of the playoffs. The Rockets continued their postseason domination of the Jazz in Sunday’s 122-90 rout to easily cash as 6 ½-point favorites. Seven Rockets posted double-figures, paced by James Harden’s 29 points, while Houston knocked down 15-of-41 three-pointers for its third consecutive victory over Utah since losing the first two meetings with the Jazz this season.

Utah was limited to 39% shooting from the floor, while getting outscored, 39-19 in the fourth quarter. Rudy Gobert led the Jazz with 22 points and 12 rebounds, but the Jazz misfired on 20 three-point attempts. Quin Snyder’s team lost each of their series openers last season, as they managed to grab Game 2 victories as underdogs against Oklahoma City in the first round and Houston in the second round.

Mejia is back with his thoughts for Game 2 at the Toyota Center, “This is definitely one of those matchups where the old cliché about the series not starting until the home team loses a game applies, but the Jazz need to at least save a little face before heading back to Salt Lake City. Donovan Mitchell and Joe Ingles shot a combined 8-for-22 while the bench finished an incredible 4-for-26, which included a pair of missed Grayson Allen layups that helped the Game 1 total remain just UNDER the closing number of 212.5. Jae Crowder and Royce O’Neale have been reliable all season and must be better. Considering the likelihood that they bounce back, the OVER may be the way to go in this one.”

All three matchups in Houston have finished UNDER the total, as the oddsmakers did not move off the 212 ½ number from Game 1. The Rockets moved to 7-1-1 to the UNDER in the past nine games at the Toyota Center, while improving to 6-0-1 ATS the last seven home contests. The Jazz were riding a five-game ATS hot streak as a road underdog prior to Sunday’s blowout loss, as Utah owns a 9-4 ATS mark under Snyder in the playoffs when receiving points away from Salt Lake City.

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