Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 9:58 AM
Wednesday's Playoff Tips
Similar to the first round of the NBA Playoffs, the second round saw a couple of early underdogs cash at the betting counter but the favorites have struck back quickly. The ‘chalk’ has gone 3-1 both straight up and against the spread the last two nights which has pushed the favorites to 36-12 SU and 30-18 ATS (63%) overall in the postseason. The ‘under’ has gone 27-20-1 (43%) so far but the ‘over’ has cashed in the last three games on the hardwood.
Wednesday’s card only has one game listed and with the help of our VegasInsider.com handicappers, let’s break down the matchup.
Western Conference Semifinals – Game 2
Portland at Denver (TNT, 9:05 p.m. ET)
After holding off the Spurs last Saturday in Game 7 at home, Denver kept the momentum going in its second round series as it captured a dominating 121-113 win as a four-point home favorite in Game 1 on Monday.
While most pundits would say Portland point guard Damian Lillard is the best player in this series, Denver’s Nikola Jokic is right behind him and the gap got closer after Game 1. The big man from Serbia finished with 37 points in the opener on 11-of-18 shooting from the field, plus he was a perfect 12-of-12 from the free-throw line. Not to mention the All-Star added nine boards and six assists as well.
Lillard certainly lived up to his hype, dropping 39 points and six assists in a losing effort. Also, Enes Kanter added 26 points and seven boards despite playing with a serious shoulder injury. The Trail Blazers actually shot better (52%) better from the field than the Nuggets (51%) in the opener and they got to the free throw line 27 times, making 20. The key to the game was turnovers and Portland had 18, which led to 23 points for Denver.
There’s no disputing that Lillard is a legit NBA player but Portland’s road record with the All-Star in the playoffs fell to 4-18 SU and 6-15-1 ATS after Monday’s loss.
The setback in Game 1 dropped Portland to 1-2 on the road in this year’s playoffs and Kevin Rogers of VegasInsider.com doesn’t believe the club will get things right on Wednesday.
He explained, “Dating back to 2014, the Blazers have lost six straight Game 2’s of a series after dropping the opener. In all six of those defeats, Portland has suffered a defeat of nine points or more, including four losses by 15 points or more. The Blazers have not been a reliable road team in the playoffs during this stretch, while trying to snap a six-game skid at Pepsi Center dating back to December 2016. The only piece of good news for Portland is its offense has come to play in three visits to Denver this season by scoring 113, 110, and 113, which is an improvement from the 101 and 82-point outputs in the 2017-18 season.”
As Rogers mentioned, the Trail Blazers are 0-6 SU and 1-4-1 ATS in their last six visits to Denver. The Nuggets were listed as favorites from -2 ½ to -6 in those contests and Wednesday’s opening line was sent out at -4.
Including the Game 1 win, Denver has now captured four straight games at home in the playoffs since losing its first-round opener to San Antonio in the first round. The Nuggets have gone 3-2 ATS in those games and the club now sits at 38-8 SU and 28-18 ATS in 46 games played at the Pepsi Center this season.
Knowing the Trail Blazers have only lost back-to-back games once since the All-Star break, a competitive effort should be expected tonight. The last time Portland faced that situation was in the first round versus Oklahoma City. The Blazers lost Game 3 by 12 points (120-108) but rebounded with a 111-98 win in Game 4. Total bettors should note that Portland is averaging 118.6 points per game in its last seven games off a loss and they own a 6-1 mark in those contests and the ‘over’ has gone 5-2 in those games.
The total for Game 2 opened at 217 ½ and has been pushed up to 219 ½ as of Wednesday morning. Even though the pair combined for 234 points in Game 1, VegasInsider.com handicapper Vince Akins isn’t expecting a repeat effort in the second installment.
“Denver’s hot offense drove the game over in Game 1 as they scored 121 points but they haven’t been backing those efforts up. In their last six games after scoring 115+ points, they have not reached 110 points in any of the next games and have averaged just 102.3 points per game scored. We expect something that is in line with that average. The total is up four points from Game 1 (215 ½) to Game 2 after the opener went over the total by 18 points. When the total goes up by at least three points from one playoff series game to the next and that game did not go over by more than 24 points, games are 29-52-1 O/U according to my database,” said Akins.
After opening a 1-0 lead, the Nuggets went from minus-140 favorites to minus-225 (Bet $100 to win $44) to win the series while the return on Portland went from +120 to +190. If part of your handicapping involves historical trends, then you have a fair argument to back the Trail Blazers to win the series. Since the 2009 postseason, the Nuggets haven’t led a series 2-0. Also, make a note that Denver has dropped its last two playoff series (2013, 2010) after winning Game 1 and they were bounced in six games in each matchup.
Game 3 will take place on Friday from the Moda Center.
Chris David can be reached at [email protected]