Tuesday’s Tip Sheet

Game 2 – Celtics at Bucks – 8:05 PM EST – TNT
Boston leads series, 1-0

There is only one team that has yet to lose in the playoffs and it’s the Celtics, who improved to 5-0 in the postseason after routing Milwaukee on Sunday, 112-90. It was pretty much all Boston from the opening tip-off as the Celtics led by nine after one quarter, while outscoring the top-seeded Bucks, 36-21 in the third quarter to win their third consecutive road game in the playoffs.

Boston easily cashed as eight-point underdogs after dropping all three matchups at Milwaukee in last year’s first round series. Kyrie Irving didn’t play in that seven-game series victory by the Celtics, but the All-Star guard posted a 26-point, 11-assist effort to help Boston snap a five-game losing streak at Milwaukee. Al Horford added 20 points for Boston, while Jaylen Brown scored 19 points as the Celtics shot 54% from the floor and attempted only eight free throws.

MVP candidate Giannis Antetokounmpo was shut down by the Celtics’ defense as the Bucks’ star scored 22 points, but it came on 7-of-21 shooting from the floor. The “Greek Freak” converted only four two-point field goals, while missing five free throws as Milwaukee suffered its first loss in the playoffs after cruising past Detroit in four games of the opening round. The Bucks will not go far in the postseason if they continue to get poor offensive performances from the likes of Eric Bledsoe and Brook Lopez, who combined to score nine points of 2-of-10 shooting.

Boston continued its stellar work on the defensive end in the playoffs by limiting the opposition to less than 100 points in four of five wins, while cashing the UNDER four times. The Celtics have trailed in the second half of all five playoff contests, as Milwaukee rallied to take a 56-54 lead early in the third quarter. However, Boston scored the next 12 points to grab a 10-point advantage and never look back to improve to 5-0 in the last five playoff series openers.

Chris David of VegasInsider.com picked Boston to win this series in six games and he wasn’t surprised by the Celtics taking Game 1 but he doesn’t expect the Bucks to go down 0-2 on Tuesday.

He explained his handicap for Game 2, “Milwaukee posted the best record in the regular season and it accomplished that feat by staying away from losing skids. The Bucks only dropped back-to-back games once this season and they’re a league-best 21-1 (95%) after a loss. What’s more impressive is they went 18-4 (81%) against the spread in those games, which makes you believe the Zig-Zag angle will be pressed by the betting public in Game 2.”

David added, “Sunday’s 90-point effort in the opener was just the sixth time this season that Milwaukee was held under 100 points. Not surprisingly, they went 1-5 in those games. In the first five games after the low production, the Bucks averaged 115.8 PPG but that average was helped with a 140-point effort. Defensively, I was more impressed with Mike Budenholzer’s troops as they only surrendered 104.6 PPG in the same five games. Instead of buying the Milwaukee offense to rebound in Game 2, I’d back its defense and play the Boston Team Total Under (106 ½).”

According to Dan Feldman of NBC Sports Pro Basketball Talk, the previous four road teams to win a playoff series opener by 15 or more points have gone on to lose the series. The most recent instance for this trend came last season when the Pacers destroyed the Cavaliers, 98-80 in Game 1 of the first round in Cleveland, but Indiana lost the series in seven games.

Game 2 – Rockets at Warriors – 10:35 PM EST – TNT
Golden State leads series, 1-0

For the third time in four seasons, Golden State and Houston are meeting in the playoffs. And for the third time, the Warriors captured the series opener from the Rockets as the two-time defending champions held off Houston, 104-100 on Sunday afternoon at Oracle Arena. Although Houston cashed as six-point underdogs, the Rockets had plenty of gripes with the officiating, especially on how the game was called against league MVP James Harden.

Harden led the Rockets with 35 points, as 13 of those points came at the foul line. However, he shot 9-of-28 from the field, including 4-of-16 from long distance as Harden had an opportunity to tie the game late. Harden missed the three-pointer as questions arose whether or not he was fouled by Draymond Green. You be the judge (video below).

Meanwhile, Kevin Durant continued his hot scoring run for the Warriors by posting a 35-point effort following his 50-point output in the series-clinching win over the Clippers last Friday. Stephen Curry didn’t put up great numbers (18 points on 5-of-12 shooting), but he drilled a critical three-pointer with under 30 seconds remaining to give Golden State a 103-98 advantage.

The Rockets picked up their fourth cover in five meetings with the Warriors this season, while improving to 3-0 ATS at Oracle Arena. The UNDER cashed for the ninth time in the past 10 matchups dating back to Game 3 of last season’s Western Conference Finals, as the two teams easily finished UNDER the total of 224 in Game 1. Houston reached the 100-point mark for only the second time in the last seven playoff hookups with Golden State in Oakland since 2016.

The oddsmakers have adjusted the total from 224 to 220 ½ for Game 2, as the Warriors have hit the OVER in two playoff games against the Clippers coming off an UNDER.

VegasInsider.com NBA expert Tony Mejia checks in with his thoughts on tonight’s critical Game 2 by the Bay, “The Warriors and Rockets both shot terribly by their standards, which combined with a failure to call illegal closeouts in the first half, really gave the OVER no chance to clear the posted total. Chris Paul didn’t get suspended for Game 2 despite his outburst against an official, but I don’t think we’re through with the refs playing too large a role in this series. They’re being put in a no-win situation by players looking to draw whistles by kicking their feet out and defenders not allowing shooters space to land."

"There’s no way this doesn’t continue on Tuesday night, so expect a parade to the free-throw line. If everyone’s not thrown off rhythm by all the stoppages in play and we get an increase in made 3-pointers, we should see these teams approach 220 points, which is a good reason the number jumped from its opening position of 218.5,” Mejia notes.

You can reach Kevin Rogers via e-mail at rogers@vegasinsider.com

Kevin Rogers can be followed on Twitter at virogers.