The first round of the NBA playoffs has finally witnessed a victory by a road team. Can Chicago, after winning in Brooklyn, defend its home floor and put the Nets in trouble? The betting lines makers favor the Bulls to take a 2-1 series lead.
Game 3: Miami Heat @ Milwaukee Bucks
Thursday, 7:05 PM ET
Odds: Heat -7.5
The status of this series is secondary at the moment. If you’re betting on Game 3, are you concerned with the series scoreboard, or are you focused on the matchups at each position? Milwaukee simply does not have the powerful low-post presence or the muscular rebounding that will enable it to threaten Miami at its weakest point. Teams that want to beat Miami in the playoffs have to be able to punch the Heat in the mouth, and the Bucks just aren’t that type of team. LeBron James doesn’t have to dominate the ball in the first two and a half or three quarters of this game. If things get close in the fourth quarter, though, he should be able to do whatever he wants against an overmatched Milwaukee defense. Choose the Heat here.
Game 3: Brooklyn Nets @ Chicago Bulls
Thursday, 8:35 PM ET
Odds: Bulls -3.5
In Game 2 on Monday, the Brooklyn Nets hit just 2 of 19 shots in the third quarter. Meanwhile, a physically limited Joakim Noah starred for the Bulls, outworking Brook Lopez and the rest of Brooklyn’s much healthier front line. Brooklyn point guard Deron Williams suffered through a terrible game, the result of lockdown defense from Chicago’s guards on the perimeter. The Nets were befuddled for most of the evening, and on the few occasions when they got open three-point looks, they couldn’t knock them down. Everything went right for Chicago, and yet the game was still very close at the two-minute mark of regulation time. In what seems to be a very long series, expect Brooklyn to swing the pendulum in the other direction on Thursday. The Nets should bounce back, setting up what could be a series in which no team wins two straight games through Game 6.
Game 3: Los Angeles Clippers @ Memphis Grizzlies
Thursday, 9:35 PM ET
Odds: Grizzlies -5
On Monday night in Game 2, a very strange thing happened: Memphis star Zach Randolph sat for the final four-plus minutes of regulation time, the product of a bizarre move by head coach Lionel Hollins. Randolph watched as Los Angeles point guard Chris Paul tossed in a ridiculously difficult 12-foot bank shot from the right side of the floor, just outside the lane, with 0.1 seconds left on the clock. The improbable leaner gave the Clippers a two-point win and a 2-0 lead in this series. Memphis now returns to its home building in what is unquestionably a must-win situation. No team has fallen behind 3-0 in an NBA playoff series and come back to win it. The 1994 Denver Nuggets erased a 3-0 deficit against the Utah Jazz, but they couldn’t win Game 7. Expect Memphis to play with great desperation and passion, fueling a strong performance that should rock the Clippers and put them on their heels. This was expected to be a long series. It might still become a short one, but the Clips certainly aren’t going to register a sweep. Memphis will win here and cover on the NBA betting lines – you can count on it.