NBA playoffs, betting odds, picks, schedule: Celtics strike first against Raptors; take under in Clippers-Mavs


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    Just a quick note as we transition to the beginning of the second round from the end of the first. The last week or so worth of games we’ve seen have come deep into series. Coaches have had time to make adjustments. Weaknesses have been exploited. Saturday’s Game between the Rockets and Thunder was a nice example of that. The Rockets, after three games of Lu Dort killing them on defense, played him off the floor by forcing him to shoot. He went 3 of 16. 

    Rarely do those extreme strategies come to fruition in Game 1s. Trust what we saw in the regular season and how teams have looked in the bubble overall. One of the easiest ways to lose money in basketball is back-seat coaching. With that in mind, here are Sunday’s best bets. 

    This is going to be a series based on adjustments with arguably the NBA’s two best coaches involved, but Game 1 typically favors the more talented team. In a playoff setting, that’s likely Boston even with Gordon Hayward out. The Celtics blitzed the Raptors in their first bubble matchup as Jayson Tatum scored comfortably in the halfcourt while Toronto struggled to do the same. They are a transition-based offense, and while Nick Nurse will surely find ways around that as the series progresses, expect Game 1 to stylistically favor Boston. 

    So who wins Celtics vs. Raptors? And which side of the spread has all the value? Visit SportsLine now to see which side of the Raptors vs. Celtics spread to jump on, all from the advanced model that is up over $4,700 on its top-rated NBA picks this season, and find out.   

    The Clippers probably aren’t going to score 154 points again because no team can reliably score that well. That doesn’t mean they’re bound to fall off a cliff, but Dallas struggled to find offense in the early going as Luka Doncic battled with a sprained ankle. With Kristaps Porzingis out, Dallas is relying on role players far more than any team would like to in the postseason. The Mavericks have one of the NBA’s most prolific benches almost every year, but with the clamps on in a closeout game, expect this game to be slightly lower scoring than its counterparts in this series. 

    The Nuggets needed 50 points from Jamal Murray just to stay in Game 4 and an equally dominant Game 5 performance to keep the series alive. Murray historically runs hot and cold. He had only 26 points in Games 2 and 3 combined. If he goes for 40 or 50 again, yes, the Nuggets will have a great chance to force a Game 7. But the Jazz aren’t as reliant on that sort of anomaly. The matchup advantages they’ve found through switches are far more sustainable. Donovan Mitchell will get his points no matter what. Murray? That’s less certain. 

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