The NBA playoffs are heating up and the tension points of three first-round series are coming into focus with more clarity. How will things break for the six teams involved in these series? Here’s a look at the betting lines for Friday:
East First Round, Game 3: New York Knicks @ Boston Celtics
Friday, 8:05 PM ET
The Knicks are in control of this series. What was expected to be a six-game series in the eyes of most (though certainly not all) NBA pundits could now become a short series, one that ends in four or five games. Can New York sweep away the Celtics and usher Kevin Garnett into a quick retirement? It’s very possible. Is it probable, though? That’s the hard question to answer here. Boston plays so well – and with such sustained passion – when it is immersed in a difficult and dire situation. The Celtics are known for digging out of trouble and fighting off death under head coach Doc Rivers. One would have to think that New York will win this series, but one should also think that Boston will find a way to avoid a sweep. This is the point in the series when the Celtics will find a way to dig out at least one victory, creating some drama for Game 4 over the weekend.
Game 3: Denver Nuggets @ Golden State Warriors
Friday, 10:35 PM ET
On one hand, Denver was abysmal in its Game 2 loss to Golden State, the first time the Nuggets have lost at home since Jan. 18. You could certainly advance the argument that Denver is feeling the pressure of being a higher seed, a team that is expected to advance in the playoffs. The Nuggets did not seem ready to compete in Game 2, perhaps sensing that Golden State was going to roll over without forward David Lee, who was knocked out for the remainder of the playoffs with an injury suffered in Game 1 of the series on Saturday. Denver was hoping for an easy night at the office, but the playoffs don’t provide them, and now, Golden State has home-court advantage in this series. The Warriors could definitely parlay that advantage into a win here.
However, for all the ways in which the Nuggets are hurting, they can’t really play a whole lot worse than they did in Game 2. It would be very surprising if Denver failed to improve to a substantial degree in Game 3. The Nuggets make a lot of sense as the selection here.
Game 3: San Antonio Spurs @ Los Angeles Lakers
Friday, 10:35 PM ET
In Games 1 and 2, the Spurs had all the answers for a woefully and obviously creaky Laker squad that is limping along without Kobe Bryant. Steve Nash, at 40 years of age, was literally limping at times against the Spurs. His body is that worn at this late stage in a gleaming Hall of Fame career. The Lakers are simply going to find it hard to come up with solutions that will enable them to win this series. However, will Los Angeles get swept? That’s a different issue, and in a series that ends 4-1, the one game the losing team usually swipes is Game 3 when down 2-0. The Lakers figure to come out with a lot of energy in this contest, and Dwight Howard will probably produce his one dominant game of the series. That’s what it will take for the Lakers to win – that, and a poor shooting night from San Antonio in a hostile building. Give the slight NBA betting nod to the Lake Show here.
Pick: Los Angeles Lakers