The all-day affair of weekend playoff basketball is giving way to a three-game nightly slate. And there’s a trio of Game 2s on the docket Monday night.
In the early slot, the 76ers host the Raptors after defeating them, 131-111, Saturday thanks to a huge Tirese Maxey performance.
The late game is Nuggets–Warriors. Golden State took the first game while containing Nikola Jokić and leaning heavily on Jordan Poole.
Wedge between those two is Jazz–Mavericks, which had one of the closer games this past weekend. Luka Dončić isn’t back yet, but Dallas can still contend with Utah.
Regular season record: 117-113-2
Play-in/playoffs record: 3-5
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Time: 7:30 pm ET | TNT
Spread: Raptors +7.5 (-110) | 76ers -7.5 (-110)
Moneyline: Raptors (+260) | 76ers (-333)
Total: Under 214.5 (+105) | Over 214.5 (-125)
It’s not a good sign for the Raptors that the 76ers walked all over them in Game 1 despite a poor showing from Joel Embiid. And Toronto left the Wells Fargo Center on Saturday with not only a 20-point loss but also a pair of injuries to Scottie Barnes and Gary Trent Jr. that could hamper the team’s chances of making this series competitive.
Barnes (ankle) is out for Monday’s game and Trent (illness) is doubtful. They each played more than 35 minutes per game in the regular season for coach Nick Nurse’s tight rotation and contribute on both sides of the ball.
Toronto’s top-10 defense looked helpless against Philadelphia in the first game. Tirese Maxey lit up the Raptors for 38 points and five threes and Tobias Harris added 26 points. Embiid finished with 19 points on 5-15 shooting (he was 9-11 at the free-throw line) and James Harden finished with 22 points and 14 assists. The 76ers won the battle in every important statistical category. Philly outshot Toronto from the field, three-point line and free-throw line, won the turnover battle by giving the ball away just three times and outrebounded the Raptors.
Given the production that Toronto will be missing and what Philadelphia figures to get from Embiid in this contest, I’m going with the 76ers. They easily covered the 4.5-point spread the first time out and I’m sticking with them despite the larger line.
Barnes does so much for his team that will limit what the Raptors can do on offense and defense. Doc Rivers can’t expect his third- and fourth-best players to combine for 64 points again, but he can maybe look for that out of Harden and Embiid.
I also like the over here. These teams went way over the 216-point total in the first game, and I’m frankly surprised this line is as low as it is.
BETS: 76ers -7.5 (-110) ; Over 214.5 (-110)
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Time: 8:30 pm ET | NBA TV
Spread: Jazz -5.5 (-110) | Mavericks +5.5 (-110)
Moneyline: Jazz (-225) | Mavericks (+188)
Total: Under 205.5 (-110) | Over 205.5 (-110)
Luka Dončić’s return will have to wait at least another game.
The Mavericks’ star will not return for Game 2 on Monday against the Jazz. Dallas gave Utah just about all it could handle Saturday without the center of its offense, an encouragement sign for this game and the rest of the series.
The Mavericks trailed 92-91 with less than two minutes to go in the game before Royce O’Neal hit a dagger three-pointer (his only field goal) and it was free throws from there on out. Nothing Dallas did seem irreplicable. Jalen Brunson led the team with 24 points and Spencer Dinwiddie added 22 points. It was a poor shooting game for the team from the field and from deep, but it did get to the line at will.
Meanwhile Utah got an efficient 26 points from Bojan Bogdanovic, while Donovan Mitchell heaved 29 shots to end with 32 points. Rudy Gobert finished with five points and 17 rebounds. All of his points came at the free throw line—he attempted one shot all game. Dallas played the Jazz—the No. 1 offense in the NBA—well, holding them below 100 points for the first time in nine games. But Utah will surely get more from Gobert and Jordan Clarkson (10 points) as the series progresses.
I wouldn’t be surprised if the Mavericks won this game outright. Had a couple more threes fallen their way, they’d be in a great spot having already won a game without Dončić and applying the pressure to the Jazz. The pressure remains on Dallas in this contest and I expect them to shoot better and play the Jazz tight. This should be a bounceback game, and 5.5 points is a mighty good insurance policy.
BET: Mavericks +5.5 (-110)
Time: 10 pm ET | TNT
Spread: Nuggets +6.5 (+100) | Warriors -6.5 (-118)
Moneyline: Nuggets (+240) | Warriors (-300)
Total: Under 222.5 (-110) | Over 222.5 (-110)
It was abundantly clear in Game 1 that Golden State is the superior squad. That’s even with an injured Steph Curry playing limited minutes off the bench. The Warriors let Jordan Poole go to work against Denver and committed all their resources to slowing down Nikola Jokić and it worked. Of course, Jokić, the reigning MVP, still got his 25 points, 10 rebounds and six assists, but he’ll need much more of a video game stat line to carry his team to a win or two in this series.
Will Barton scored 24 points to help Jokić but Aaron Gordon, the team’s second-leading scorer, managed just eight points. Jokić will have to do more by himself and I’m expecting that to be the case in this game. The Draymond Green-Jokic matchup is something to behold, but I expect Jokic to bump his scoring into the 30-point range.
What’s scary about the Warriors’ performance is that nothing seemed out of the ordinary. Poole exploded, but he had 10 30-point games in the regular season. And Steve Kerr can expect more out of Curry and even Klay Thompson (5-10 on threes).
I anticipate more fight out of Denver in Game 2. The spread for Monday night matches what it was for Game 1—nothing has changed (though the crafty Facundo Campazzo will return from his one-game suspension). Jokić can and will do more. I’m not sure that will result in a win, but it will lead to a more competitive showing.
BETS: Nuggets +6.5 (+100); Nikola Jokić Over 28.5 Points (-120)
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