Friday’s Results: 0-3
All-Time Results: 72-79-1. -4 Units
Denver Nuggets -4 vs. Portland Trail Blazers – 1 Unit
Teams after Game 7 victories in the NBA – excluding games where both teams are off game 7 victory e.g. 2018 Finals – have been bad historically but good recently against the number.
12-19 ATS (61%) 2004-2018
6-17 (26%) (2004-2014
6-2 (75%) 2015-2018
I have theory that may explain this trend reversal. Principally, the NBA has gotten a lot wiser when it comes to – for lack of a better term – load management. It wasn’t long ago that the average NBA starter played 35 min and the average NBA star played 40 min per game in the regular season. Now the league leader only plays 37 minutes per game and 17 of the 24 All-Stars played under 35 minutes per game for the season. Scheduled rest days as well are a lot more common.As travel becomes easier and medical preparation advances, scheduling edges will gradually lose value.
Unlike the Warriors who failed to cover after playing in Oakland less than 48 hours after clinching their first round series in LA, Denver enjoys being able to rest up these past two days at home after their win over San Antonio. I feel that the market is giving us an extra point of value because it is overrating the difficulty the Nuggets will face responding from their game 7 victory.
Few saw Damian Lillard’s game-winner against OKC in real time because it happened at almost 1 AM Eastern time. The biggest moment of the playoffs, however, had a second and third life on the airwaves and internet over the next several days. The moment I think has garnered enough attention that the public is slightly overrating the Blazers, who in that same game were down 15 at home.
The Blazers have cluster injuries at the C/PF position. Jusif Nurkic over course has been out for the past month – and now Enes Kanter is battling a separated shoulder. He mentioned in the lead up to the game that the normal healing time would be “about a month” if he weren’t needed in the playoffs. It reportedly still hurts when he eats food and puts on his shirt. Kanter – already a limited defender – will have his hands full battling with injury, and battling the best frontcourt tandem in the league.
Nikola Jokic Over 22.5 Points vs. Portland Trail Blazers – 1 Unit
When Jokic swished a high arcing baseline jumper over the corner of the backboard as the shot clock expired, I realized. One day I will have to tell my grandchildren that I didn’t buy into to Larry Bird 2.0 for years. After vastly, underestimating his scoring ability since he entered the league, I have slowly come around. His statistics show I’ve been wrong the whole time. The Joker’s career splits of 52/35/82 are tremendous for his shot profile. His low scoring output at times – like Bird – is an indication of his style and his team needs, not his ability.
In this series, the Blazers have the better guards, but – like last year vs. AD – have a major disadvantage down low. Enes Kanter is questionable and young player Zach Collins would be his replacement. Regardless if Kanter plays, I see Jokic scoring in bunches tonight. Not only will he have an advantage to exploit his defender in the post, he will live on the offensive glass.
Toronto Raptors vs. Philadelphia 76ers Under 220 – 1 Unit
After a 69 point explosion in the first quarter in Game 1, the teams combined to only score 144 over the next three quarters. The Raptors defense has been a sight to behold all playoffs. Toronto’s opponents are now 5-0-1 against their team total in this years post-season. Kawhi Leonard is back to being Kawhi Leonard, and he’s one of 3 players on the Raptors that have been DPOY candidates in their career (Gasol & Ibaka). Where I don’t think Embiid will struggle against Gasol as severely as in Game 1, I don’t see a clear plan of attacks to consistently create offense for the road team in this match-up.
On the other side of the ball, the Raptors scored only 108 in Game 1 despite the fact that their best 2 players – Kawhi and Pascal Siakam – combined to shoot 74% (28/38). Kawhi Leonard has officially become the highest true shooting percentage player in the history of the NBA playoffs – above players like Steve Kerr and Tyson Chandler who never had to force a shot. Even still, if Kawhi regresses even to his ridiculously high mean, he will have closer to 30 points rather than his amazing 45 on Saturday. The 76ers will be the more desperate team and I expect them to hold Lowry and the rest of the supporting class relatively in check again. Look Under.