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Basketball

NBA Play-In Preview

You gotta hand it to Adam Silver. I wasn’t keen on this idea when he announced it, but it’s actually been fantastic. I imagine it will be a permanent fixture moving forward. I just hope we start calling it the “Wildcard Round” from now on. The games start tomorrow, 2 Eastern Conference matchups and then 2 Western Conference games the day after. Let’s have a look at them.

Before we do that though, I’ll do a quick recap of how the Play-In will work, just in case there is some confusion. Teams seeded 7 through 10 will be in the Play-In. 4 teams from each conference.

#7 plays #8, with the home advantage going to #7. The winner of this match will advance to the Playoffs as the 7th seed. It’s not all over for the loser though, they get a second chance.

#9 plays #10, with the home advantage going to #9. The loser of this match is eliminated, no second chance. The winner will play the loser of the 7/8 matchup. The winner of that advances to the Playoffs as the 8th seed. Got it?

Indiana Pacers (9) vs Charlotte Hornets (10)

The Hornets won the regular season series against Indiana, 2-1. An interesting trend (that I wouldn’t pay too much attention to) was the points per game. In those 3 games, Charlotte scored 106, 108 and 114 respectively. However, Indiana scored 116, 108 and then 97! That’s a pretty significant decrease per game.

Obviously, lineups and injuries can play into that, but it certainly stood out to me. Speaking of lineups, Myles Turner and Jeremy Lamb look set to miss the game tomorrow for Indiana. Brogdon is a GTD. Sabonis, Sumner and Holiday are all questionable. LeVert is off the injury report, but did miss their last game. That’s a lot of question marks for the Pacers.

I find it hard to tip against the Hornets for this match. Indiana suck at rebounding and that is going to come back to haunt them. Not to mention all the players they will be missing. You can still play the Hornets as underdogs, I’d get on that pretty quickly!

Boston Celtics (7) vs Washington Wizards (8)

Celtics won the season series, 2-1. The most recent match up was a 111-110 victory by Boston. Hopefully tomorrow’s game is just as exciting!

I love Washington to win this one. They are just on another level right now. They just had the most impressive playoff push I recall seeing. Westbrook has been phenomenal and if you ask me, he’s a top 5 player in the league right now. Beal is set to play, but is still nursing a hamstring injury.

The Celtics have been struggling a lot lately. They’ve been free falling down the standings and find themselves here at the Play-In. The good news is, they look to have a full squad available for the game tomorrow. It feels like they’ve been hit hard with the injury bug lately.

I’m expecting a closely contested match up and I really think Boston will have a good showing. I just can’t bet against the Wizards right now, they have been amazing. Wizards are listed as underdogs, so I’d snatch that up too!

If you like to play same-game multis/parlays, add Westbrook to get a Triple Double. If you are feeling really frisky, take Boston to win the first quarter, but lose the game.

Memphis Grizzlies (9) vs San Antonio Spurs (10)

Memphis won the season series, 2-1 (I’m sensing a theme here).

I said that the Celtics have been free falling, but the Spurs have been way worse! In their defense, they’ve been pretty banged up and lost LaMarcus Aldridge earlier in the season.

On the other hand, Memphis have been pretty solid and Ja Morant is electrifying. The Grizz have also been good minute from JV, he is a walking double.

I have a hard time betting against Pops and the Spurs. They have their backs against the wall and you know they are one of the best coached teams in the league. Is experience enough to get them over a young Grizzlies squad?

I don’t think so. My tip is the Grizzlies. The Spurs are currently +3.5, if I had a couple more points I’d probably play that. My best bet for this though, would be to take the unders (222.5). I think it’d be an ugly, tough, grind it out affair. My kind of game!

Los Angeles Lakers (7) vs Golden State Warriors (8)

I don’t know if anyone predicted that these two teams would meet in the Play-In! It’s going to be an incredible watch. Once more, we watch LeBron and Steph do battle. This could be the main event at Wrestlemania!

Let’s start with Steph Curry and the Warriors. The Warriors have been on fire lately and Curry is hotter than the sun. Only once in his last 10 games he has scored under 30 points. Let that sink in for a second. He has dragged this team back from the brink. Wiggins has been solid and Dray is doing Dray things.

LeBron is still struggling with his ankle and can’t seem to get himself healthy. This is a pretty worrying sign for the Lakers. They’ve had a banged up season, which is no surprise considering the short turnaround they had. You don’t hear Miami making excuses though!

Who do you like in this one? I’m going to ride the hot hand and stick with Curry. I think he will get the Warriors over the line. Plus, we all know LeBron’s history in Game 1’s. With his ankle injured, I think the Lakers might walk this one in. Then, when their backs are against the wall in the game against Memphis (or San Antonio), LeBron will find the other gear.

Recap/Best Bets

Charlotte to win @ $2.30. Cody Zeller to double/double (odds currently not listed).

Washington to win @ $2.25. Westbrook to Triple Double @ $1.32. Boston to win the 1st quarter @ $1.83. You can multi all 3 @ $6.50, but do so at your own risk!

Memphis/San Antonio under 222.5 total points @ $1.90. I’m also tempted to take the Grizzlies -3.5 @ $1.90.

Golden State to win @ $2.67. I can’t pass up on those odds. Draymond Green Rebounds and Assists over 16.5 @ $1.80. It’s tempting to take Curry for 40+, but the odds aren’t worth the risk in my opinion.

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