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Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 13:58 PM

Wednesday's Tip Sheet

Playoff Results | 2nd Round Odds | Expert Picks

Eastern Conference Semifinals – Game 5 (Bucks lead 3-1)
Boston at Milwaukee (TNT, 8:05 p.m. ET)

Things change quickly in a playoff series for better or worse. Boston stuck it to Milwaukee in Game 1 in a 22-point blowout at Fiserv Forum, but the Celtics have gone from flying high to one loss away from elimination in a 10-day span.

Milwaukee captured a pair of victories at TD Garden, where the Celtics lost a total of one playoff game last season. After the Bucks topped the Celtics in Game 3 as two-point underdogs, 123-116, Milwaukee rallied Boston to take Game 4 in Beantown, 113-101 as one-point ‘dogs. The key to both road wins in this series is Milwaukee’s ability to thrive after halftime by outscoring Boston, 33-23 in the third quarter of Game 4.

Giannis Antetokounmpo dominated the Celtics once again with 39 points and 16 rebounds, while Milwaukee overcame a horrific shooting night from three-point range going 8-of-37. Khris Middleton put together a 4-of-19 performance from the floor after scoring 20 points in Game 3, but George Hill stepped up off the Bucks’ bench to score in double-digits for the third time in this series with 15 points.

Kyrie Irving’s struggles from the floor continued in Game 4 as the Celtics’ guard scored 23 points, but shot 7-of-22, including hitting 1-of-7 three-point attempts. In the three Boston losses, Irving has converted 4-of-20 shots from downtown, while converting on 19-of-62 field goal attempts (30.6%). Gordon Hayward has been missing in action recently for Boston by scoring 10 points or fewer in each of the past three games, including a measly two points in Game 4.

Milwaukee improved to 7-1 SU/ATS in the playoffs following Monday’s win, while owning a solid 9-2 ATS mark in the underdog role. The Bucks are flipped to a home favorite on Wednesday, as Mike Budenholzer’s team is 9-1-1 ATS in the past 11 wins at Fiserv Forum. The Celtics are listed at their highest underdog price this season (+9) as the last time Boston was receiving nine points, it knocked off Philadelphia in overtime in Game 3 of the second round in 2018.

VegasInsider.com NBA expert Tony Mejia checks in with what could be the final game of the Celtics’ season, “The Celtics face the difficult obstacle of having to find a chemistry on the road that has thus far eluded them at home. Irving is struggling to have the impact he envisioned having on “his” team after being liberated from a supporting role under LeBron James, which is why it’s looking increasingly likely that he’ll give up and seek out a better fit in New York.”

Brad Stevens needs to get everyone on the same page early and have a group in mind he’s going to want to turn to in case the game is spiraling away. Against a team that led the NBA in double-digit wins and margin of victory, that’s going to be important given the Bucks’ approach of stepping on the throat of teams at the new Fiserv Forum. Keep all this in mind when weighing whether to lay the big number,” Mejia said.

Western Conference Semifinals – Game 5 (Series tied 2-2)
Houston at Golden State (TNT, 10:35 p.m. ET)

Apparently, the Western Conference second round series between the Warriors and Rockets hasn’t started yet. Golden State won the first two games at Oracle Arena, while Houston responded with a pair of victories at Toyota Center to even up its series at 2-2. Now, the two Western powers travel back to Oakland as the two-time defending champions look to avoid their first three-game losing streak in the playoffs for the first time since blowing a 3-1 lead to the Cavaliers in the 2016 Finals.

Houston held off Golden State in overtime to grab Game 3 and get back into the series, but the Rockets were not going to allow the Warriors to take a 3-1 advantage. The Rockets built a 13-point second quarter advantage and led 61-54 at halftime thanks to 18 points from James Harden. Houston held a 17-point cushion in the third quarter before Golden State made a furious comeback to cut the deficit to two points with 19 seconds remaining on a three-pointer by Stephen Curry.

Harden split a pair of free throws to go up three as Curry hoisted a three-pointer to tie the game in the final seconds, but missed as the Rockets held on for a 112-108 victory and the cover as one-point favorites. Harden finished with 38 points, including 6-of-17 from three-point range, while Eric Gordon overcame a 2-of-12 performance from downtown to post 20 points.

Golden State was limited to 8-of-33 shooting from long distance (24%), but Curry finally busted out after three subpar efforts by scoring 30 points. Kevin Durant continued his hot scoring run with 34 points, but Klay Thompson didn’t contribute much by putting up 11 points on 5-of-15 shooting. The Warriors didn’t help themselves at the free throw line by misfiring on seven attempts, their most misses in any game during the postseason.

After watching the ‘under’ easily cash in the opener of this series, the ‘over’ has cashed in the last three games and bettors riding the high side certainly had to sweat out a couple of those outcomes. The total for Game 5 opened at 220 and Chris David of VegasInsider.com provides his thoughts on Wednesday’s number.

He said, “We finally saw the Houston offense click in this series at home as it averaged 119 PPG in the two games from the Toyota Center. That average was certainly helped with shots from distance as Houston hit 35 bombs from 3-point land in their victories. The bigger issue for the Rockets has been their inability to score at Oracle Arena in the playoffs and that’s a large part of the reason why they haven’t been able to get past the Warriors. Since the 2015 postseason, they’ve played 11 games in the Bay Area and Houston is averaging 94 PPG. That lack of offense has resulted in a 1-10 record and not surprisingly, the ‘under’ has gone 9-2 in those games.”

“To be fair, this year’s Rockets squad has looked a tad sharper in their trips to Oracle. They scored 135 and 118 points in a pair of regular season wins and while losing Game 1 and 2 of this series, they did finish with 100 and 109 points. The issue with those playoff losses is that they came out flat and were held to just 19 and 20 points in the first quarter of the setbacks. Can Houston carry over the offensive momentum to Game 5? Past history doesn’t look great for it but the difference of this year’s Warriors team is their defense, which allowed 111 PPG in the regular season and 115.4 PPG in the playoffs. My lean would be to ride the hot team and play the Houston Team Total Over (107) on Wednesday.”

Since 2015, the Warriors are 2-1 SU/ATS in Game 5’s of a series tied at 2-2, as the two victories have come at Oracle Arena. The lone loss in this stretch came on the road at Houston in last season’s conference finals, but Golden State went on to win the final two games of the series. The last time Houston played a Game 5 on the road with the series even at 2-2, the Rockets fell in overtime to the Spurs, 110-107 as a 5 ½-point underdog in the 2017 second round.

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

Kevin Rogers can be followed on Twitter at virogers.

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