Fri, May 4, 4:58pm by Staff Writer
The 2017-18 NBA playoffs continue this weekend with second round matches in all four conference semi-finals.
Golden State Warriors at New Orleans Pelicans
Saturday, 5 May 2018 at 10.10am AEST
The Golden State Warriors easily handled New Orleans in game one of their best-of-seven series, but despite welcoming back former MVP Steph Curry into their lineup, they reigning champions faced a much sterner test in game two.
The Pelicans fell 121-116 despite three starters scoring 20+ points. New Orleans’ bench brigade has been disappointing so far in this series, with Steph Curry alone outscoring them with his marvelous 28 points in 27 minutes.
Golden State are $1.55 road favourites to take a 3-nil lead against New Orleans, with the Pelicans $2.54.
New Orleans did not beat Golden State at home in the regular season, with their sole victory a late-season win in Oakland.
Anthony Davis was kept quiet in game one, but scored 25 points in game two, playing 43 minutes. Jrue Holiday played 47 minutes, so it is no secret that coach Alvin Gentry is going to play his star duo for the majority of the contest.
Davis is not getting as many shots around the rim in this series as he was gifted against Portland, which is driving down his field goal percentage and efficiency.
Golden State have not lost in New Orleans since 2015 and have covered the four point handicap on offer at the moment in all of those matches.
The Warriors are the healthiest they have been in some time and present a number of match up problems for this Pelicans team.
While New Orleans first round series made them look unstoppable, they will need a special effort and a vocal home crowd to get them across the line.
As it stands, the smartest play in this one is the back the Warriors.
Best bet- Golden State Warriors to cover 4-point handicap at $1.95
Houston Rockets at Utah Jazz
Saturday, 5 May 2018 at 12.40pm AEST
The most intriguing of the second round series’ at the moment is between the Rockets and the Jazz.
Houston crushed a lethargic Utah team not long after their emotional series win against Oklahoma City.
In game two, it was the Rockets who looked lethargic, allowing the Jazz to build a 15-point first half lead, while shooting 52 per cent from the field and nailing 15 three pointers.
Despite Utah looking unbeatable at home against the Thunder, the Rockets are $1.54 road favourites to wrestle back home court advantage in this series, with the Jazz paying $2.49.
The opening line favourites Houston by four points.
Prior to Thursday’s win, the Jazz had not defeated Houston in five attempts this season. Houston has beaten Utah by double digits in all four of their regular season matches, which justifies Houston’s favouritism.
Donovan Mitchell and Joe Ingles were once again superb for Utah, with Ingles nailing seven three-pointers in the match.
Houston are continuing to struggle from their bench and the efficiency of James Harden and Chris Paul in games they lose is a big reason behind their dip from game one to game two.
This is a tough game to pick with Utah’s raucous home crowd sure to be a factor as it was against Oklahoma City.
Houston can be very hot-and-cold and did lose a road game in Minnesota and have not looked as irresistible as they were during the regular season.
We are going to back the underdog Jazz to take a 3-1 series lead.
Best bet- Utah Big Win Little Win 1-10 at $3.40
NBA Weekend Odds – Sportsbet
Golden State $1.55 v New Orleans $2.54
Houston $1.54 v Utah $2.49
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