NBA Playoff Picks - Odds & Predictions 8/21/20

Favorites played flawlessly in the NBA playoffs Thursday, winning all four games straight up, covering the spread all four games. So for these playoffs, the betting chalk is now 12-4 SU, 11-5 ATS. Friday gives us a foursome of Game 3's to play with; who do we like for our free NBA picks?

Raptors -10/221 vs. Nets, 1:30 pm ET, NBATV

Toronto leads this series 2-0 after beating short-handed Brooklyn Wednesday 104-99. The Raptors, after blowing out the Nets in Game 1, actually trailed by 14 in the first quarter and by six through three. But Toronto then used a 19-5 run to take control and eased home there.

However, Brooklyn hung on for the cover as an 11-point underdog.

The Raptors took the opener of this series Monday 134-110, covering as 10-point favorites.

Toronto is now 9-1 SU, 7-3 ATS since the re-start. The Raptors are also now 5-1 SU, although only 3-3 ATS, against the Nets this season.

Brooklyn is 5-5 SU, 7-3 ATS since the re-start.

Free NBA Pick: We're 1-1 ATS on this series, having backed Brooklyn twice. But it's time to bet the better team here and fade the team that's probably been playing a bit over its head. We're taking Toronto.

Nuggets -1.5/219 vs. Jazz, 4 pm ET, TNT

This series is tied at a game apiece following Utah's 124-105 Game 2 victory Wednesday. The Jazz led 61-48 at the half, then hit five 3-pointers in a row to lead 81-62. Utah never led by less than 12 from there, on its way to the outright victory as dogs of 3.5 points.

On the afternoon, the Jazz shot 52 percent from the floor and hit 19 of their first 33 from 3-point land. They also only turned the ball over six times.

Denver won the opener of this series Monday 135-125 in overtime and covered, somewhat luckily, as a 4.5-point favorite.

The Nuggets are only 4-6 SU, 5-5 ATS since the re-start, and Utah is only 4-5 SU, 5-4 ATS. But Denver is also 4-1 SU and ATS vs. the Jazz this season, although two of those victory/covers needed overtime.

Utah played the first two games of this series without G Mike Conley, as he dealt with a family thing, but it looks like he'll play Friday.

Free NBA Pick: We're 1-1 ATS on this series, after backing Denver twice. As we've said before, we're not big believers in the "zig-zag" theory, although it's 5-3 ATS so far in these playoffs. But we don't believe Utah will shoot 46 percent from 3-point land again like it did Wednesday. So we'll take the Nuggets again.

Celtics -5/216 vs. 76ers, 6:30 pm ET, TNT

Boston leads the series by a convincing 2-0 margin, after beating Philly Wednesday 128-101. The Celtics actually trailed by 14 in the first quarter Wednesday but took the lead for good early in the second and ran away from there, later leading by 28, on their way toward victory and the money as 4.5-point favorites.

Boston took the opener of this series Monday 109-101, pulling away late for the cover at -6.5.

The Celtics are now 7-3 SU, 5-4-1 ATS since the re-start, Philadelphia just 4-6 SU, 3-7 ATS.

The Sixers actually took the regular-season series from Boston 3-1.

On the injury front, Boston's Gordon Hayward (ankle) is out for probably at least the rest of this series, while Philly's Ben Simmons (knee) is gone for the season.

Free NBA Pick: We've read this series wrong so far, backing Philly twice. And the Sixers didn't show much heart Wednesday. However, Philly managed to beat the Celtics three times during the regular season, and losing Hayward probably hurts more than losing Simmons. We'll try the Sixers again for Game 3.

Clippers -5/233 vs. Mavericks, 9 pm ET, TNT

This series is tied at 1-1, after Dallas' 127-114 Game 2 victory Wednesday. The Mavericks began the game with a 15-2 run, pushed that to 44-27 in the second quarter, let the Clippers get within 85-83 late in the third but regained momentum and pulled away from there for the outright win as five-point dogs.

On the night, Dallas shot 50 percent from the floor, held Los Angeles to 44 percent shooting and won the turnover battle 15-9.

The Clippers took the opener of this series Monday 118-110, covering at -6.5.

Los Angeles is now 6-4 SU, 7-3 ATS since the re-start, while Dallas is still only 4-6 SU, 3-7 ATS.

The Clippers are also now 4-1 both SU and ATS vs. the Mavs this season.

Free NBA Pick: We're 1-1 on this series, betting LA twice. And the Clippers are still the better team here. Plus, Dallas probably won't shoot 50 percent again, like it did Wednesday. We'll give the points with Los Angeles for Game 3.

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