GAMBLING GUIDE

NBA playoff betting predictions for Wednesday night

Look for Lebron and the Cavs to bounce back. Jayne Kamin-Oncea/Getty Images

Rockets (-10.5) vs. Timberwolves Game 2

The hometown Houston Rockets host the Timberwolves in the second game of the series, and although they are up 1-0, a more efficient performance is what backers are hoping for. Opening as  -11.5 point favorites in Game 1, the Rockets never really gave bettors a chance at covering the number with their horrible performance from behind the arc. Outside of Harden, the Rockets shot 3-of-25 from 3-point range and needed every bit of James Harden's 44 points to close out the opening game of the series. Clint Capela also chipped in 24 points and 12 boards to assist the Beard in an off night for Houston. The game was played at an extremely low pace of 95.4, substantially below the Timberwolves season average of 98.4. The slow pace and low scoring in Sunday's matchup came as a huge surprise, as these two teams have seen their games go over in 14 of the last 18 matchups. These teams faced off four times during the regular season, with the Rockets scoring 116, 126, 120 and 129 points in those contests. The Rockets are No. 1 in the NBA in 3 pointers made hitting over 15.2 per game as this team has proved all season long it can live and die by the three.  Another stat that hurt the Rockets’ overall performance was their assist percentage, where during the regular season they assisted on 55.7 percent of their shots, Sunday night they failed to move the ball efficiently, seeing the number plummet to 38.5. They had an abundance of good looks; the ball just wasn't going down; luckily they had Harden to rescue them in a much-needed win.

The Pick

Good teams find a way to win even while playing bad; it's great teams that bounce back and give us performances that we are accustomed to seeing.  The Rockets have struggled of late as double-digit favorites going 6-15 ATS in the last 21 games in such a role. Not only a problem for Houston but since 1991, Double Digit underdogs are 35-22-2 ATS in opening round games. With the trends bucking in the opposite direction, we look to pick a favorable spot on the Rockets Team Total Over with 112.5 available at may spots. Even with the abysmal 3-point shooting, Houston still scored 27, 27, 22, and 28 per quarter. Look for them to continue the scoring but with an added bump in efficiency seeing them ultimately clear the number.

Rockets team Total over 112.5

Cavaliers (-8) vs. Pacers Game 2

The last time LeBron James lost an opening round game, Gangnam Style had us dancing like fools, and The Avengers was dominating theaters. The Game 1 loss came with little surprise for a team that has been struggling to find its identity. Indiana now leads the season series 4-1, and the underdog really believes they should win this series. As a +240 dog, the Pacers led the entire way after a 25-8 start and never looked back. Cleveland shot an embarrassing 23.5 percent from 3 while the Pacers were on fire hitting 39.3 percent. The Cavaliers were also forced into 16 turnovers, not something you want to see for a team listed as a -700 favorite to win the series. After Indiana stole home court, the series is much more even, and the Cavaliers are now only listed at -234 to advance. The Pacers played at the seventh slowest pace during the regular season, the Cavs 12th fastest. The tortoise-style speed Game 1 was played at was dictated by the visitors seeing the game played at a pace of 93.9, the slowest of all the playoff games thus far and an ample drop from Cleveland's 100.9 average.

The Pick

The Pacers had everything go right from the opening tipoff, but can they replicate that performance in Game 2? The problem with the Cavaliers and their ultimate downfall will be their defense, not so much the offensive side. Listed as -8 point favorites, LeBron and company will look to even things up, but they will have to knock down shots and move the ball more effectively. Working in their favor, a trend dating back to the early 90's.

When a home favorite loses an opening round game, they are an astonishing 97-26 Straight up and 72-47-4 ATS in the following matchup.

LeBron bounces back knowing the importance of not going down 0-2, and the offense gets back on track.

Cavaliers Team Total Over 108
Cavaliers-8


For any questions or comments reach me @JerryBoKnowz on twitter.






 

 

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The media has mixed feelings about the James Harden trade. Photo by Mike Ehrmann/Getty Images

James Harden was 100-percent exactly right earlier this week when he said the Houston Rockets were "just not good enough."

How could they be? Not when their moody superstar scorer, who makes about half a million dollars per game, shows up chubby, looking like a kielbasa about to explode in the microwave. Hey, some people eat when they're unhappy, it's a defense mechanism. In Harden's case, the only defense he's exhibited this season. At least he had a good excuse for missing pre-season training camp and alienating his teammates - he was busy partying with Cinnamon and Cherish in Atlanta and Vegas without a mask. Worst of all, he went into the tank his last four games in a Rockets uniform, standing around, arms folded, scoring fewer than 20 points each time, all Rockets losses. Fans in the front row were asking him to move, he was blocking their view of players who cared about winning. James Harden sabotaged his own team, a team that offered him $50 million a year to stay. Something that crazy could only happen in professional sports these days.

There's a saying that drives the American labor movement: "a fair day's wage for a fair day's work." It's the motto of the American Federation of Labor. The National Basketball Players Association is not a member. Harden's sulking on the court, cheating the Rockets and their fans, was unforgivable.

Harden, sitting out games while somehow being on the court, forced the Rockets to trade him - and quick - to Brooklyn. The trade, when you ignore the fine print and unindicted co-conspirators Cleveland and Indiana, sent Harden to Brooklyn in exchange for Caris LeVert (immediately flipped for Victor Oladipo), Jarrett Allen, three first-round draft picks and four swapped first-rounders. It's true, when you trade a superstar, you never get back equal value. The other team wins.

If it makes Rockets fans feel any better, the media in New York already has problems with their new problem child. I should say newest problem child. Kyrie Irving plays for the Nets.

"They (the Nets) gave up everybody! There's nothing left now. I just want to cry, It's awful," weeped WFAN Radio talk host Evan Roberts. For those who don't subscribe to weekly Arbitron ratings reports, WFAN is the most powerful, top-rated sports talk station in the Apple.

"You're leading down the road of doom. Harden and Durant could be gone in a year and a half. I'm not convinced this gives them a better chance to win a title. I'm living a nightmare again. They better freaking win."

Circle March 3 on your Rockets schedule. That's when the Brooklyn Nets, with their Big 3 of Kevin Durant, James Harden and possibly Kyrie Irving visit Toyota Center. I hear talk radio salivating over the record jeers that will cascade over Harden's name, although I'm not buying it. Fans don't think like the media does. I'm thinking that Rockets fans will welcome Harden back - one night only - with cheers.

Toyota Center public address announcer Matt Thomas: "Usually when former Rockets come to town for the first time since leaving, I give them a positive introduction. It's up to the fans how to react."

James Harden spent eight seasons with the Rockets. He is a spectacular player who watched other NBA players engineer trades so they could compete for a title. Harden didn't think the Rockets were good enough, and he's right. So he wanted out. We've all been there, a job we didn't like for a company we didn't like, for a boss we didn't respect. Harden wanting to be traded is understandable. How he went about it was deplorable. He hurt his co-workers.

Houston will make Harden pay for his disrespectful departure. He has an upscale restaurant set to open here. The name of the steakhouse will be "13." Harden's business partners may want to change that number ... before the restaurant's telephone number is disconnected. There are plenty of other restaurants in Houston. Rich people who can afford steakhouse prices hold grudges.

Rockets fans searching for a silver lining say, "We got two decent players and a whole bunch of precious first-round picks" for a malcontent who would rather be anywhere (except maybe Sacramento) than Houston." Yes, a bunch of first-round picks does bode well for the future. Anywhere, except maybe Houston.

Houston's draft war room isn't the most successful operation in the NBA. Over the past decade prior to 2000, under the direction of general manager Daryl Morey, the Rockets made 16 draft picks. Not one of them is still in a Rockets uniform, many of them have sought employment outside of America, some outside of basketball. Among their first-round whiffs: Nikola Mirotic, Terrence Jones, Sam Dekker - all out of the league. Best of all, Royce White, who played three whole games in his NBA career and finished with a scoring average of 0.00 points per game.

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