Thursday’s Results: 1-2
All Time Results: 64-65-2, +0.6 Units
Philadelphia 76ers -1.5 @ Brooklyn Nets – 1 Unit
Macro datapoint guiding my thinking on several of these picks: Last 4 NBA seasons: playoff favorites 111-69-1 ATS (62%). This trend seems so intuitive to me I can’t believe I didn’t think to track it earlier.
Think about it: How much caterwauling have we heard throughout the regular season about how dominant teams are underwhelming? First Take programs half of its schedule to try to explain why teams like the Warriors, Thunder, Celtics, Sixers should be winning 75% of their games but are only winning 65% of their games. Chemistry issues, etc. Meanwhile, these teams are learning to optimize their play for the long haul while traveling thousands of miles a week to 30 different locations over a prolonged season, which absolutely no one will care about the second the playoffs begin. The regular season is deemphasized by the best teams and for good reason. Day to day results are not illustrative of their top-end potential. Picking the better teams in the playoffs has been the ticket.
Brooklyn is resigned to their face here, outmatched at all starting positions. Even without Embiid, Brooklyn has no answer for Boban, the 76ers other 7’3 center.
Embiid playing would be a nice bonus, but as we saw on Thursday not necessary for 76ers superior talent to shine through. In limited minutes, Embiid leads the playoffs in PER.
Philadelphia 76ers @ Brooklyn Nets Under 233 – 1 Unit
Overreaction to two overs in a row. More familiarity and game tape from which to gameplan should lead to better, more focused defense by both teams not less. Totals in this series have drifted from 225 steadily upward and now and 233 it’s just too high.
The Nets must realize they can’t outgun the more talented 76ers by now – they will have to try to muck the game that much more, leading to 5+ fewer possessions.
Milwaukee Bucks -9 @ Detroit Pistons 1 – 1 Unit
-Pistons -32 with Drummond on the floor.
-Last 8 NBA seasons: 7+ point road favorites 19-0 straight, 18-1 ATS
-Last 4 NBA seasons: NBA playoff favorites 111-69-1 ATS (62%)
The Bucks remind me of the 2009 Cavs – #1 in their conference for the first time, with their young stud suddenly making his argument for the greatest player on earth. That Cavs team absolutely cruised through the first 2 rounds of the playoffs against weak competition. Until the Bucks face a real challenge vs. the Celtics, I expect them to enjoy their life of dominance.
Milwaukee Bucks @ Detroit Pistons Under 107.5 1H – 1 Unit
When Moe Szyslak preps Nuclear Safety Technician Homer Simpson before he vies for the World Heavy Weight Title Fight, in which he is a 100/1 underdog, Moe strains to find words of hope and encouragement. Finally, through gritted teeth he comes with this gem, “Homer, I’m not going to lie to you. You have a real chance to win this fight. But you have to visualize it.” Homer than visualizes winning, seeing himself triumphant in the center of the ring after his opponent has died of a sudden heart attack.
The Pistons do not have a chance to win this game. However, if they do want to win – they must visualize a game that is a lot less up and down than their past 2 in Milwaukee. To win they must see a lot of Andre Drummond salvaging extra possessions, a lot of contested threes clanging out of bounds, in general, a lot more ugly basketball. Without Blake Griffin, their best offensive player by a mile, Detroit has to envision a scenario where Milwaukee comes down to their level of scoring. They cannot hope to rise up to the Bucks level of offensive firepower. Dwyane Casey & Co. will want to establish a slower pace, particularly in the beginning of the game.
San Antonio Spurs vs Denver Nuggets Under 208 – parlayed with – Spurs ML (-165) – (+210) – 1 unit
Under 5-2 in last 7 meetings between Spurs & Nuggets, with last 2 being Over.
Under 9-4 in last 13 games in San Antonio.
Under is 25-16-1 (60%) when Nuggets is on the road this season.
Under is 15-10 when Nuggets are underdogs this season.
San Antonio is especially good at home & Denver is especially poor on the road:
Spurs boast the 5th best home ATS margin +2.5 & 6th best Net Rating at home +7.0 While the Nuggets have the 29th best road ATS margin -2.6, & 20th best road net rating.
Denver stayed in the game Thursday in the first half by hitting 8 of its first 13 threes, spurring a 21-5 run at the beginning of the second quarter. Spurs absorbed this run, and then continue turning their gears demonstrating a superior system and stifling Denver’s Jokic based actions.
Utah Jazz -2.5 1H vs. Houston Rockets – 1 Unit
The premise of the “Zig-Zig-Zag” theory holds that teams that lose Games 1 & 2 on the road in a 7-game series, play their best, most intense game of the series in the 1st half of Game 3. The crowd and the pressure of the situation combine to produce an ultra-focused squad.
Home Playoff Teams down 0-2 are on an 89-41 ATS run in the 1st half in Game 3.
Even paying the extra 1.0 tax on the spread, I think we have good value here with a team made tailored made for this scenario. I can’t think of a better team to rally around a raucous home crowd and press their physicality advantage than the Jazz tonight.