Philadelphia 76ers -3.5 @ Brooklyn Nets, Total 228.5 – The Sixers stormed to a convincing game 2 win over the Nets, after shockingly dropping game 1 at home. Philly rolled with a new game plan, fed through Ben Simmons and Boban Marjanovic, to efficiently pull away from Brooklyn early in the game. Simmons showed repeated aggression to get to the rim and the Nets failed over and over to close on Boban’s skilled shooting from the elbow. Brooklyn showed tons of heart and closed to within 1 at halftime, despite being down double-digits early in the first quarter. However, the Nets failed to hits shots consistently in the second half and faded.
Brooklyn has proved to be a more potent team at home this season and have played with a quicker pace as well. Playing in front of their home crowd should give the Nets a boost towards competing in game 3 tonight, but their success will largely hinge on executing a new game plan to stop the Simmons/Marjanovic tandem in addition to any contribution Embiid is able to make.
4* Over 228.5, 4* Nets +3.5 without Embiid
Denver Nuggets @ San Antonio Spurs -4.5, Total 209 – A 19-point comeback win in game 2 was a potential glimpse of the Nuggets complete power, if only consistency was not part of the equation. Several times in the 3rd and 4th quarters, the Spurs went scoreless for minutes on end. Persistent aggression on Denver’s part allowed the team to whittle away a sizeable double-digit lead, but the differential at halftime and the end of the 3rd quarter was the same inclusive of these events. The Spurs did their job in taking a win on the Nuggets home court and were playing with house money. However, Denver will likely find it hard to play as well as they did in game 2 on the road tonight.
The Nuggets have lost 16 of their last 17 games in San Antonio, where the Spurs have played very soundly as home favorites. It took a miracle comeback, efficient shooting and the NBA’s #1-ranked 3-point FG% team having an abysmal night to pull out a W. In the Spurs 16 wins at home against the Nuggets, their average margin of victory is 13.7 PPG.
5* San Antonio -4.5
Golden State Warriors -8.5 @ Los Angeles Clippers, Total 233.5 – The Clippers return home from the Bay following the largest comeback victory (31 points) in NBA playoff history. The surprising performance tied the series with the defending champions and adds more fuel to the numerous narratives surrounding the players in this series. Patrick Beverley v. Kevin Durant, DeMarcus Cousins torn quadriceps muscle, X-factors from the bench. Take your pick, because they’re all worth talking about.
Firstly, coach Steve Kerr stated after game 1 the Warriors best lineup does not include DeMarcus Cousins. The team will have to adjust given his season ending injury, but it may be for the best given the coach’s comments. Kevon Looney, Jordan Bell and Andre Iguodala all present more athletic options that allow Golden State to penetrate the Clippers defense and open space for shooters. Frankly the Warriors don’t need Kevin Durant to post 40 points to win against this team and he likely won’t given his temper gets the best of him against Patrick Beverley. Los Angeles stealing game 2 can be attributed in part to Montrezl Harrell and his stellar shooting in this series, 20-24. However, I feel the Clippers performance merely made the Warriors angrier and more determined to put them away.
4* Golden State -8.5