Today's NBA Picks Raptors vs. Celtics & Clippers vs. Nuggets

Boston tries to go up 3-0 on Toronto while the Clippers and Nuggets begin their Western Conference semifinals series down in the NBA playoffs bubble Thursday night. How are we playing these games with our free NBA playoff picks?

Raptors -1/216 vs. Celtics, 6:30 pm ET, TNT

Boston leads this series two games to none after taking Game 2 Tuesday 102-99. The Celtics trailed by 12 points late in the third quarter Tuesday, then used a 29-9 run to take control and held on from there for the outright victory as dogs of 1.5 points.

Boston only shot 42 percent from the floor on the night but held Toronto to just 40 percent shooting. The Celtics also hit 23/25 from the free-throw line and made several big 3-pointers, most by G Marcus Smart, during their fourth-quarter rally. Meanwhile, the Raptors made just 11/40 from 3-point land.

With Tuesday's victory, Boston is now 6-0 SU, 5-1 ATS in these playoffs.

With Tuesday's loss, Toronto is now 4-2 SU, 3-3 ATS in these playoffs.

Also, the Celtics are now 5-1 both SU and ATS this season against the Raptors, even though Toronto
finished five games ahead of Boston in the final regular-season standings.

On the injury front, the Celtics are still playing without F Gordon Hayward, although they haven't seemed to miss him too much so far.

Free NBA Playoff Pick: We're 0-2 ATS picking this series, taking Toronto both games. The Raptors basically got blown out in Game 1, but they coulda/shoulda won Game 2. Boston seems to have Toronto's number this season, but we still expect this series to go at least six games. We also expect the Raptors to shoot the ball at least a little better than they have through the first two games of this series. We'll stick with the Raptors for Game 3.

Clippers -8.5/223 vs. Nuggets 9 pm ET, TNT

Los Angeles dispatched of Dallas in six games in their first-round series, finishing it with a 111-97 victory Sunday. So the Clippers are working on three days off, which sounds about perfect.

Meanwhile, Denver rallied from down three games to one against Utah to take that series 4-3, advancing with an 80-78 Game 7 victory Tuesday.

Los Angeles finished 3.5 games ahead of Denver in the final regular-season standings, 49-23 to 46-27. The Clippers also took the season series from the Nuggets two games to one, going 2-1 ATS in the process. Denver won the first meeting back in January 114-104 as a one-point favorite at home, but LA won the next two by scores of 132-103 and 124-111, covering those games as a favorite of seven and six points.

The Clippers shot 51 percent from the floor in those three meetings combined, the Nuggets 48 percent.

This game's line opened with Los Angeles favored by 7.5 points, then got bumped to -8.5 in the early betting action. Also, the total on this game opened at 226, then got bet down to 223.

Free NBA Playoff Pick: The Clippers are the better team here and should win both this game and this series. LA also beat Denver twice during the regular season by more than 8.5 points, and its four wins in the series against Dallas came by 8, 8, 43, and 14 points. We'll give the points here with Los Angeles.


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