Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:59 AM
Saturday's Early Tips
Playoff Results | First Round Series Odds | Betting Stats
Eastern Conference First Round – Game 4 (76ers lead 2-1)
Philadelphia at Brooklyn (TNT, 3:05 p.m. ET)
The 76ers were humbled 111-102 in Game 1 to the Nets as 7 ½-point home favorites last Saturday and the frustration carried over to Game 2 this past Monday as Brooklyn was in striking distance again, trailing 65-64 after the first two quarters.
Philadelphia head coach Brett Brown reportedly gave a very motivated speech at halftime and whatever he said worked. The 76ers outscored the Nets 80-59 in the second-half and cruised to a 145-123 win in Game 2 to even the series. That spirited talk by Brown apparently carried over in Game 3 on Thursday as Philadelphia built a 32-24 lead over Brooklyn after the first quarter before leading 65-59 at halftime.
The club topped their first-half total with 66 points and ended with a 131-115 win over the Nets in Game 3 as 1 ½-point favorites. Philadelphia shot 48 percent from the field and finished 11-of-27 (41%) from 3-point land and it also filled it up from the free-throw line with a blistering 30-of-35 mark (86%).
They did all the damage without All-Star Joel Embiid, who rested his sore knee. His status was downgraded from ‘questionable’ to ‘doubtful’ for Game 4 on Friday evening. Including Thursday’s result, the team is now 9-10 this season without the big man in the lineup.
With or without Embiid, it's become apparent that Nets only chance of winning a game yet alone the series comes down to how poorly Philadelphia shoots from the field. Outside of All-Star D’Angelo Russell, Brooklyn doesn’t have the depth or defense to compete with the Sixers roster of stars.
Oddsmakers had Philadelphia as a two-point favorite but the number dropped to -1 ½ after the Embiid alert was sent out. The total was slightly moved from 233 to 232.
Despite dominating Game 3, Kevin Rogers of VegasInsider.com is still hesitant to lay the points with Philadelphia based on trends that we’ve seen from the club this season. However, he noted that Brooklyn’s recent tendencies haven’t been great either.
He explained, “The 76ers improved to 3-11 ATS this season as a favorite of less than 3 ½ points with Thursday’s blowout of the Nets. Obviously the better team now leads the series, 2-1, but Philadelphia owns a 3-8 ATS mark as a road favorite off a win this season, which includes the Game 3 victory. Since early February, the Nets have not been a reliable home underdog at 1-4 SU/ATS, with all four losses coming by double-digits.”
For what it’s worth, the Nets did trip up the 76ers in the early afternoon matchup last Saturday. Will history repeat itself at the Barclays Center? I delved into results for both clubs in day games (5:30 p.m. ET or earlier) and Brooklyn has gone 6-3 SU and 7-2 ATS, which includes its Game 1 win in this series. Philadelphia hasn’t been shabby either, going 6-4 SU and 5-5 ATS.
Even though the ‘under’ started out strong in the NBA Playoffs last weekend, we’re starting to see the offensive units come together. The ‘over’ has cashed easily in the last two games in this series and the high side is now 5-1 in the last six meetings between the pair. Without Embiid, the 76ers defense is vulnerable in the paint and the offense doesn’t suffer as much because his absence puts more shooters on the floor. I expect another back and forth contest and my lean would be to Brooklyn’s Team Total Over (115 ½).
Bettors still believing in Brooklyn to rally and win the series can receive 11/2 odds (Bet $100 to win $550) while the 76ers (-750) remain heavy favorites to advance.
Game 5 is scheduled for Tuesday at the Wells Fargo Center from Philadelphia.
Western Conference First Round – Game 4 (Spurs lead 2-1)
Denver at San Antonio (TNT, 5:35 p.m. ET)
The only underdog to show up so far in this year’s playoffs has been San Antonio, who was listed at 9/4 odds (Bet $100 to win $225) to defeat Denver in this best-of-seven series. The short price on the Spurs certainly said a lot considering this was a 2-7 matchup but after watching three games, the oddsmakers lack of respect for the Nuggets has been provden.
As of Friday, San Antonio is now listed as high as a minus-185 favorite (Bet $100 to win $54) to advance while Denver is 8/5 (Bet $100 to win $60) to rebound. VegasInsider.com NBA expert Tony Mejia provides his thoughts on the series, which could easily be a 3-0 lead for the Spurs.
He said, “The Nuggets have largely been dominated for the better part of three games in this series, so head coach Mike Malone will have to find a way to change things up. The Spurs have seen Derrick White factor heavily in both wins and also have DeMar DeRozan plugged in after a slow start. Nikola Jokic had a game where he looked most like his usual self and Denver still couldn’t get a handle on a solid rhythm.”
Including the 118-108 loss in Game 3 at San Antonio on Thursday, Denver has gone 1-6 SU and 2-5 ATS in its last seven road games. All of those contests came against playoff teams and the defense has been lit up for 115.4 points per game in that span. During the season, the Nuggets were ranked sixth in scoring defense with 106.8 PPG surrendered.
Knowing the club has been troubled on that side of the court, Denver needs to find more offensive firepower and Mejia has singled out a couple Nuggets to step up on Saturday.
“Outside of that Game 2 fourth quarter where Jamal Murray went nuts and San Antonio’s offense looked unsettled and sloppy, Denver has been outclassed and will need to play its most complete game of the series to get back home even by snapping a 14-game losing streak at AT&T Center. That will require big games from Paul Millsap and Murray, x-factors who have come up empty too often thus far. He dominated down the stretch for a perfectly-timed flurry on Tuesday but has otherwise struggled. Take away his 8-for-9 fourth-quarter showing and he’s shooting 27 percent (10-for-37) for the series, which simply isn’t going to cut it with White shooting nearly 70 percent for the series and coming off a 36-point night. To bounce back, Murray will have to overcome the fact that he’s been decidedly more consistent at home than on the road, where he shot just 40 percent from the field and 33 percent from 3-point range, significantly below his averages,” Mejia said.
Even if Denver receives those contributions, are you willing to bet against one of the hottest home teams in the NBA. Mejia has been strong on San Antonio and he believes another win is very probable. “Denver is a sub-.500 team on the road, while San Antonio has won more home games than every other team besides the Bucks, Nuggets and Trail Blazers, who it would match by avoiding an upset here. I picked the Spurs in the series outright and expect them to be up 3-1 heading back to Colorado,” he added.
San Antonio opened as a 3 ½-point home favorite and the overnight line has held steady but the total was bet down and that’s been the theme in the first three games of this series. Even though the ‘over’ has cashed in the last two games, the number dropped from 211 to 208 for Saturday’s matchup.
Due to their aforementioned defensive lapses, Denver has watched the ‘over’ go 4-1 in its last five away games. During its current 14-game home winning streak over the Nuggets, San Antonio is averaging 112.6 PPG but the total results are a stalemate (7-7) during this span.
The pair will meet in Game 5 from the Pepsi Center in Denver on Tuesday.
Chris David can be reached at [email protected]