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NBA Playoff Friday: Preview and Picks

Thu, May 3, 10:06am by Staff Writer

Two blockbuster Eastern Conference semi-finals matches headline Friday’s NBA slate, with the Cavs and Celtics both holding a one game advantage over their opponents in their best-of-seven series.

Cleveland Cavaliers at Toronto Raptors

Friday, 4 May 2018 at 8.10am AEST

The Toronto Raptors will be left to rue numerous missed opportunities late in regulation in game one, after they fell to the Cavs 113-112 in overtime in game one on Wednesday.

Toronto start as $1.37 favourites to even the series at 1-all when they host Cleveland on Friday who are once again big outsiders at $3.21.

The Raptors got off to a blistering start in game one, leading by 14 points at the end of the first quarter. The Cavs battled back multiple times during the match, including during the third quarter where they fell behind by double digits yet again.

The Cavs role players stepped up big time in game one, with JR Smith and Kyle Korver both scoring double digits as starters, with Jeff Green and Tristan Thompson providing 30 of the 37 bench points for Cleveland.

The Raptors start as 6.5-point favourites in game two, but from what they showed in game one, little would inspire you to back them at such odds.

Toronto were the best fourth quarter team in the NBA during the 2017-18 season and had a tremendous run in fourth quarters in their first round series against the Wizards.

On Wednesday afternoon they lost the fourth quarter 23-18 and made only three of their final 18 shots in the last four minutes of regulation and overtime, against a usually porous Cavs defence.

The over/under for game two is set at 212.5 and after the scoring onslaught in game one, the match total should go over in game two.

The Raptors don’t look to have an answer for LeBron James who led all scorers with 26 points, despite shooting just 12-30 and 1-8 from 3.

All of the value and big game experience is with the Cavs, so we are going to back them against as road underdogs.

Best bet- Cleveland Cavaliers Big Win Little Win 1-10 at $4.05

Philadelphia 76ers at Boston Celtics

Friday, 4 May 2018 at 10.40am AEST

An injury-battered Boston Celtics team has shown a never-say-die attitude all season and that continued in game one against the 76ers where they blew Philadelphia out 117-101 in Boston.

The Celtics got tremendous scoring from Al Horford, Jayson Tatum and Terry Rozier with all three players scoring 25+ points, the first time that has happened in the playoffs for the Celtics since the 1980s.

Rozier nailed seven three pointers for the Celtics, who as a team were 17-35 from distance. The 76ers could not find their range all game, shooting just 5-26 from long range.

Philly were pre-series favourites and remain $1.47 favourites to win the series, despite their loss in game one.  The Celtics are $2.77 to prevail, with a 1-0 advantage.

Boston will start game two as $2.40 underdogs with the 76ers priced at $1.60 at Sportsbet.

The Celtics have relished being underdogs this season and continue to surprise many with their tenacity and attitude.

Philadelphia are a fresh playoff team, with Embiid and Simmons playing in their first playoff series. Outside of the experience of J.J. Redick and Marco Belinelli, this 76ers squad is inexperienced in big game and atmospheres like that in Boston.

All of the value is with the home side in this one, whether it is at the 3.5-point handicap start at $1.95 or in the head-to-head market.

Look for Boston to go 2-0 up on Friday morning.

Best bet- Boston Celtics to win at $2.40

NBA Friday Odds – Sportsbet

Cleveland $3.21 v Toronto $1.37

Philadelphia $1.60 v Boston $2.40

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