Today's NBA Playoff Picks - NBA Predictions
The NBA playoffs tip-off Monday with the opener of four best-of-seven first-round series down in the Florida bubble. How are we playing these games with our free NBA picks?
Nuggets -5/216 vs. Jazz, 1:30 pm ET, ESPN
Denver is the No. 3 seed in the Western Conference, Utah the No. 6 seed, but these teams were only separated by a game and a half in the final season standings.
Denver just played 3-5 SU, 4-4 ATS in the bubble re-start, most recently losing to Toronto last Friday 117-109. In fact, the Nuggets lost their last three games, although those losses came against three pretty good teams in the Lakers, Clippers and Raptors. And fortunately they had enough padding to finish a game and a half clear of fourth-place Houston. Utah just played 3-4 SU, 4-3 ATS in the re-start, most recently beating San Antonio last Thursday 118-112. The Jazz actually finished tied with Houston and Oklahoma City at 44-28 overall but tie-breakers pushed them to the six spot. On the personnel front Utah took a hit when G Mike Conley, who scored at least 20 points in four of the last five games, left the bubble over the weekend to attend to some family obligations. Denver swept the season series from Utah three games to none, including a wild 134-132 double overtime decision two Saturdays ago.
Free NBA Pick: These teams played three close games this season, Denver winning by six, three and two points. But losing Conley will hurt Utah. We like the Nuggets minus the points here.
Raptors -10/222 vs. Nets, 4 pm ET, ESPN
Toronto is the No. 3 seed in the Eastern Conference, Brooklyn the No. 6 seed, which doesn't seem like a big gap, but the Raptors finished 18 games ahead of the Nets in the standings.
Toronto played 7-1 SU, 6-2 ATS after the re-start, most recently defeating Denver last Friday 117-109. The Raptors were one of the few teams playing decent defense down in the bubble, holding foes to 103 points or less five times in eight games. Brooklyn played 5-3 SU, 6-2 after the re-start, most recently losing to Portland 134-133 last Thursday but covering the spread as 10-point dogs. The Nets also added wins over the best team in the League, Milwaukee, and the second-best team in the West, the Clippers. The Raptors took the season series from the Nets three games to one but only one of those wins came by double-digits. And Brooklyn won the most recent meeting between these teams back in February 101-91.
Free NBA Pick: Toronto is the better team here, and should win this game and this series. But Brooklyn is playing well as of late, and 10 points seems like a lot for a situation like this. We like the Nets and the points here.
Celtics -6/219 vs. 76ers, 6:30 pm ET, ESPN
Boston is the 3 seed in the East, Philly the 6 seed. The Celtics also finished 5.5 games ahead of the 76ers in the standings.
Boston played 5-3 SU, 3-4-1 ATS after the re-start, and won five games in a row, before resting their starters in a 96-90 loss to Washington last Thursday. The Celtics' other two bubble losses came against Milwaukee and Miami. Philadelphia played 4-4 SU, 3-5 ATS after the re-start, most recently bombing Houston last Friday 134-96. And of their four bubble losses three came by a combined total of 13 points. The 76ers took the season series from the Celtics three games to one, although Boston won the most recently meeting back in February 116-95. On a personnel note Philly is playing without an injured Ben Simmons (16 points, 8 rebounds, 8 assists per game this season), but the strange thing is they actually might be better without him.
Free NBA Pick: Boston is probably the better team here but Philadelphia won three of four match-ups during the regular season and seems to play better without Simmons. We'll take the Sixers and the points here.
Clippers -6/230 vs. Mavericks, 9 pm ET, ESPN
The Clippers are the 2 seed in the West, Dallas the 7 seed, as LA finished 7.5 games ahead of the Mavs in the standings.
Los Angeles played 5-3 SU, 6-2 ATS during the re-start, most recently beating Oklahoma City in overtime last Friday 107-103. The Clippers added wins over Dallas, Portland and Denver, and one of their losses came by a bucket to the Lakers. The Mavericks only played 3-5 SU, 1-7 ATS in the re-start. Most recently they got bombed by Phoenix 128-102 last Thursday, although that game didn't matter to Dallas. LA swept the season series from the Mavs three games to none, including a 126-111 decision 11 days ago. The Clippers also covered that game as four-point favorites.
Free NBA Pick: Los Angeles is playing the better ball as of late and beat Dallas three times in the regular season, twice by 15 points. We'll give the points here with the Clippers.