Tue, Apr 17, 8:26am by Staff Writer
The NBA playoffs began in spectacular fashion on the weekend with several close finishes and just as many upsets.
The first round of the postseason continues on Wednesday (AEST), with three teams looking to build a commanding lead in the best of seven series.
After overcoming their first game hoodoo, the Raptors will be looking to extend their dominance over the Wizards while the understrength Celtics come up against a talented Bucks outfit who pushed them all the way on Monday (AEST).
In the Western Conference, the New Orleans Pelicans will be hoping to head back to their home-court with a 2-0 series advantage when they take on the Trailblazers.
Washington Wizards at Toronto Raptors
Wednesday 18th April 2018, 9am at Air Canada Centre
The playoff action in the Eastern Conference resumes in Toronto after the Raptors finally got the monkey off their back by winning their opening game against the Wizards 114-106.
The Raptors have had their best season in franchise history, they finished in first place in the Eastern Conference but have traditionally struggled in the postseason and in 2015, the Wizards swept them.
Kyle Lowry continues to play under an injury cloud for the home team, with the All-Star guard playing through a heavy bout of the flu in game one. He is expected to suit up for game two and his contribution with DeMar DeRozan will be critical to the outcome of this one.
For the visitors, guard John Wall continues to find his feet after an extended injury layoff that saw him return in the last month of the regular season.
The Wizards fell out of the top half of the Eastern Conference seedings in the last month of the regular season and therefore they head into this game as big $3.42 outsiders. The Raptors are favourites on their home court at $1.34.
The Raptors split their regular season with Washington and while winning the first game will give them a huge lift, this game will be closer than it looks.
Suggested Bet: Back the Wizards to cover (+7) at $1.95.
Milwaukee Bucks at Boston Celtics
Wednesday 18th April 2018, 10am at TD Garden
Despite their injury list that includes Kyrie Irving, Marcus Smart, Gordon Hayward and Daniel Theis, the Celtics are leading their series against the Bucks after pulling off an overtime win in game one.
The Celtics have defied the odds all season but the loss of Irving so close to the playoffs may be a killer blow to the sides’ chances if they make to a possible second round meeting with the 76ers.
The Bucks for all of their talent, but they look like a team that don’t know how to win clutch situations. They are one All-Star short of being a team that can challenge the conference heavy weights. Joe Prunty’s team doesn’t have the scoring capacity on the bench to go deep into the playoffs.
The 113-107 overtime victory in game one was mainly thanks to contributions from their playoff rookies and Al Horford who has stepped into the breach to lead a side that has imited playoff experience.
The Bucks are outsiders at $2.28 and it’s difficult to imagine them stopping the Celtics who are warm favourites to extend their advantage at $1.66.
Suggested Bet: Celtics to win at $1.66
New Orleans Pelicans at Portland Trailblazers
Wednesday 18th April 12.30pm at Moda Centre
Portland must dust themselves off from their close loss (97-95) to the Pelicans in game one if they are to stay in this series.
Anthony Davis got his side over the line to record his first ever playoff win, with an effort that included 35 points and 14 rebounds and was the difference between the teams.
New Orleans split their regular season series with the Trailblazers, but entered the playoffs off the back of a five-game run, thanks in part to Davis who put in an effort that should see him finish in the top three for the league MVP.
The duo of Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum were unstoppable in the first half of the season, leading Portland to a franchise record run of 13 consecutive wins.
The hosts have a strong home record and are short priced favourites at $1.37 to square the series and head to New Orleans tied at one game apiece. There’s plenty of value in the market for the Pelicans at $3.22 for the win.
While the focus after game one was on the work of Davis, Rajan Rondo had 17 assists and if he can back that up, Portland could struggle despite playing in front of their home fans.
Suggested Bet: Pelicans to win at $3.22
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