Smart Money NBA Picks For Saturday 5/22/2021 Action
The NBA playoffs are finally here. The past few weeks of gambling have been fun, but it’s been dominated by betting against tanking teams playing against teams jockeying for playoff position. Now, things get a bit tougher. There are no perverse incentives, and the intensity levels reach their peak. With an exciting slate of NBA games ahead today, here are my picks to help make you money.
Smart Money NBA Betting Picks for Tonight’s Action
I’ve been one of the biggest Bucks detractors over the past couple of years. They’ve been completely and utterly fraudulent for two straight seasons. But I’m buying into the belief that this team is different.
The upgrade of Jrue Holiday compared to Eric Bledsoe is an absolutely monumental difference. This Bucks defense hasn’t been as good analytically as in past years. But I do think that they’re capable of a higher ceiling in the playoffs. Plus, Holiday’s addition on offense gives them an added layer of shot creation compared to what they had last season.
They’ll be extra motivated to exorcise their demons from last year’s embarrassing loss to Miami and will come out swinging in Game 1. This is a different Bucks team, and they’ll take care of business in this game and in this series.
This is what the Clippers get for trying to manipulate their playoff path to avoid the Lakers – a Game 1 loss at the hands of Luka Dončić and the Mavericks.
Matchup-wise, I don’t hate this from the Mavs’ perspective. The Clippers’ two superstar wings create a difficult matchup on both ends. But if last year’s series between these two teams proved anything, it’s that neither one of them is capable of taking Luka Dončić out of a game.
The Mavs also added Josh Richardson in the offseason, in part for these exact situations. Richardson is a better option to defend Leonard and George than anyone else on the roster, and his presence should make a difference. Take the Mavs to cover this one.
The Celtics are a broken team who are simply ready to be put out of their misery after a nightmare season. With the Nets fully healthy and prepared, I see no chance that this game is even close.
Unfortunately for the Celtics, Marcus Smart can only guard one of Brooklyn’s big three at a time. That leaves Jayson Tatum and Evan Fournier to guard the other two, which isn’t a horrific matchup but also isn’t likely to make anyone’s night more difficult than normal.
The Celtics’ only real hope is that the 50-point games from Tatum keep on coming. Barring an absolute barrage from him, I feel comfortable betting on the Nets to cover eight points here.
I like Portland’s chances of going into Denver and stealing Game 1. While Facundo Campazzo is capable of being a pest, Denver is generally thin on defense in the backcourt, which should allow Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum to have some big nights in this series.
Portland also has the size to match up with Jokić. Former Nugget Jusuf Nurkić will have his hands full, but he at least won’t get bulldozed in the post. The same is true of Enes Kanter, who I think could have a real impact in this series, especially considering the fact that Denver lacks the pick and roll ball handlers to exploit him defensively.
These two teams put on an electric seven-game series two years ago. And while both teams look much different now, I’m expecting another close-fought battle. With how easily Portland’s backcourt can get hot and steal a game, I like their chances to win Game 1 on the road.
Top Player Props for Tonight’s NBA Action
I’m betting the over on McCollum for all of the reasons that I outlined above – Denver is generally thin on guard defense, and it’s not like Nikola Jokić is going to be a stalwart defending the pick and roll. My gut says that the Nuggets will go all out on stopping Lillard, which will allow McCollum to handle increased responsibilities and get himself plenty of looks. Take the over here.
As I mentioned above, Boston isn’t super well equipped to contain Brooklyn’s three stars defensively. I’m expecting them to have to utilize aggressive schemes and double teams to get the ball out of their hands, which will lead to ample opportunities for Joe Harris. Harris will capitalize on his open looks from deep and will hit this over with ease.
Mike’s Year to Date Record: 42-54