The Boston Celtics earned the only sweep of the opening round last night. Only one other team can end its series tonight, the Miami Heat. I expect the Heat to earn a commanding Game 5 win over the Atlanta Hawks tonight, and that read informs two of my plays below.
Here are my top NBA betting picks for Tuesday’s playoff action.
1. Phoenix Suns/Over 213.5 | +145 at FD Sportsbook
I whiffed hard by targeting Phoenix so heavily on Sunday, but I’m undeterred by their Game 4 loss. The main factor I highlighted for Sunday’s game still applies—the Suns are due for positive regression in their three-point percentage. Phoenix’s struggles from beyond the arc haven’t been caused by New Orleans’ perimeter defense. The Pelicans ranked fifth worst in opposing three-point percentage this season. Instead, the Suns have just gotten incredibly unlucky.
Monty Williams and Chris Paul understand that the team’s struggles stem from bad luck. After Game 4, Monty Williams said of the team’s three-point shots were “going to drop because we’ve put the work in.” Chris Paul added that “we have to keep taking them; we are getting great looks.”
Better perimeter shooting would buoy Phoenix to a win and help these teams go Over. That said, the in this bet sits at a remarkably low number. The Suns and Pelicans are averaging 223.5 combined points per game this series, a full 10 points above the total. Games 2 through 4 have all sailed Over this number by at least 7.5 points.
“They usually say the averages even out at some point,” Chris Paul said after Game 4. If that regression takes place in Game 5, look for Phoenix win by a solid enough margin to cash this parlay.
2. Trae Young Under 25.5 Points | -108 at FD Sportsbook
The Miami Heat have done an excellent job containing Trae Young this series. The young point guard is yet to go over this number in the postseason—Young has finished with point totals of 8, 25, 24, and 9 thus far. That’s good for 16.5 points per game, a full nine below the market number.
Young averaged 25.5 points per game against the Heat in the regular season. He only went over this number against them twice, including an early-April game that was meaningless for the Heat that Atlanta still managed to lose.
With Kyle Lowry already ruled out, Young is set to draw aggressive defensive coverage from Gabe Vincent. Young attempted only three field goals in the 4:33 that Vincent spent directly on him. Young has routinely opted to pass the ball out when facing Vincent. In the 13.5 minutes of Vincent’s tight defensive coverage against him this series, Young has nine assists and two turnovers and is 3-for-11 from the floor.
It’s always hard to bet against a star player in a do-or-die game, but the Heat should take care of business against the Hawks in Game 5. You’ll find the juice for this problem at worse odds than -110 at most books, so let’s take the value at FanDuel.
3. Parlay: MIA + PHX Wire to Wire | +475 (.2u) at FD Sportsbook
I don’t love any other individual lines enough to feature them here, so let’s get aggressive with a wire-to-wire parlay. Bettors should note that the individual wire-to-wire lines for these teams sit in the plus money—Miami at +136 and Phoenix at +144—and either of those make solid bets. But the chances of both teams commanding their respective Game 5s from start to finish feel a fair amount higher than what the books would have you believe.
First, the Suns were the NBA’s fourth-best team in the first quarter during the regular season. They left their opening frames with a 2.2-point advantage on average, while their opponents, the New Orleans Pelicans, left with a 1-point deficit. If the Suns can get out to their typically hot start, they have a good chance of never surrendering the lead. Monty Williams is too good of a coach to let his Suns drop a crucial Game 5 at home.
Likewise, the Heat were the NBA’s fourth-best team in the first quarter during the regular season. They usually wrapped their opening frames up with a 2.1-point lead. The Hawks weren’t terrible—they tended to leave their first quarters with a 0.7-point advantage—but they have been outmatched and outcoached all series. The Hawks have lost all but one first quarter this series. Worse, they have only held a lead for three quarters this series, and two of those came at home in Game 3. If you’re looking for alternative approach to betting this angle, consider laying .4u on Miami wire-to-wire and .1u on this parlay.
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