Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:59 AM

Monday's Tip Sheet

Game 4 – Bucks (-12  ½ , 219  ½ ) at Pistons – 8:05 PM EST – TNT
Milwaukee leads series, 3-0

The Celtics are waiting in the wings for the Bucks in the second round of the playoffs after Boston swept Indiana in four games. Milwaukee is one victory away from a playoff rematch with Boston in a series that went the distance in 2018 and won by the Celtics. However, the top-seeded Bucks have to suffer through one more game with the Pistons, as Milwaukee has won and covered in each of the first three games by double-digits.

The first two contests in Milwaukee were no doubt blowouts as the Bucks cashed as 15-point favorites each time in 35 and 21-point routs. In Game 3 at Little Caesars Arena in Detroit, Pistons’ star Blake Griffin returned to the lineup after missing the first two losses with a lingering knee injury. Griffin led the Pistons with 27 points, but Milwaukee cruised past Detroit, 119-103 for its seventh win over the Pistons this season.

Seven different Bucks posted double-figures in the Game 3 win as Khris Middleton put up 20 points, while Eric Bledsoe and Brook Lopez each scored 19 points to help Milwaukee cash as 9 ½-point favorites. The Bucks improved to 6-0-1 ATS this season against Detroit, while six of the seven wins have come by 10 points or more.

Milwaukee snapped a six-game road playoff losing streak in Saturday’s victory, as the Bucks picked up their first away postseason win since Game 1 of the 2017 first round series against the Raptors. The Pistons had won 11 consecutive games at Little Caesars Arena from February 4 through March 30, but Detroit is currently on a 1-3 run at home the last four opportunities.

Game 4 – Rockets (-3, 214 ½) at Jazz – 10:35 PM EST – TNT
Houston leads series, 3-0

How well are things going for the Rockets? Last season’s MVP James Harden missed his first 15 shots from the floor in Game 3 at Utah, but the Rockets still managed a 104-101 victory to grab a 3-0 series advantage. Houston and Golden State are on the verge of meeting once again in the postseason after last season’s epic seven-game set won by the Warriors, but the Rockets need one more victory to move forward.

Rewinding to Saturday’s Game 3 in Salt Lake City, in spite of Harden’s horrendous start from the floor, he finished with 22 points and 10 assists on 3-of-20 shooting. All five Rockets’ starters scored in double-figures as Chris Paul posted 18 points, while P.J. Tucker and Clint Capela each compiled a double-double. The only offensive firepower from the Jazz came courtesy of Donovan Mitchell, who scored 34 points, but also struggled shooting by hitting 9-of-27 attempts.

Utah captured the first two meetings in the regular season, but Houston won the final two matchups before taking the opening three games of this series. Dating back to the start of the 2017-18 season, the Rockets have won 13 of the last 16 meetings with the Jazz, including a 6-1 mark at Vivint Smart Home Arena.

Chris David of expected Houston to sweep Utah in four games and he’s sticking with that angle on Monday. He explained, “After closing as short ‘dogs on Saturday, the Rockets go from hunter to hunted in this game and will be laying as road favorites. We saw the same situation happen yesterday with Boston as the Celtics cashed as an underdog in Game 3 on Friday before sealing the series in Game 4. While homecourt is a big factor in the NBA, talent wins out and we’ve seen that so far in this year’s playoffs. Road favorites are 7-0 straight up and 5-2 against the spread in the postseason with the Warriors and Raptors just missing covers by a couple points over the weekend.”

He added, “Houston’s numbers as a road favorite (15-12 SU, 10-16-1 ATS) don’t seem appealing but a lot of those losses came early in the season. Since the All-Star break, the club has gone 6-3 when laying points as a visitor. It’s rare to see Utah listed as a home underdog, just twice this season (1-1). However, the Jazz are 0-3 both SU and ATS in their last three games as an underdog versus Houston and that includes a pair of losses in last year’s Western Conference semifinals. Some bettors might feel more secure taking the visitor on the money-line (-150) but make a note that the Rockets won all three of those games in Salt Lake City by double digits and the ‘under’ cashed in each contest too.”

Under Quin Snyder, the Jazz have put together an 0-5 SU/ATS record as a home underdog in the playoffs, including four straight losses by 11 points or more. The Rockets are currently riding a 7-1 run to the UNDER in the last eight playoff games, including three straight UNDERS against the Jazz on the road since last season’s second round matchup.

You can reach Kevin Rogers via e-mail at [email protected]

Kevin Rogers can be followed on Twitter at virogers.

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