Play in Game Betting Guide: First Round
The NBA expanded the Play-In games into a tournament primarily to create more drama for the last week of the season. It also limits the number of players being rested during that stretch. For the most part, this plan worked, since the teams jockeying for play-in spots were playing and winning competitive games down the stretch.
For those who don’t know, here’s how the Play-in Tourney works for both the East and the West: #7 plays #8, with the winner advancing as the #7 seed. #9 plays #10 with the loser being eliminated and the winner playing the loser of 7vs8 for the #8 seed.
Personally, I don’t care for this Play-In tournament because these games don’t matter in the great scheme of things. Outside of the Lakers, these teams are playing to get smacked in the real first round. The only reason I like it is for the Nets to have more time to rest up before the playoffs really start.
Now here are the picks:
Eastern Conference Play-In
#9 vs #10
We have the Hornets visiting the Pacers (-2) at the time of writing this. Over the last two months of the season, the Pacers have been one of the worst home teams ATS in the league, totaling a 13-23 record ATS for the season. The Hornets are more successful as a road favorite, which they are not, and have a 17-19 record ATS on the road. Pacers’ PG Malcolm Brogdon has missed the last 10 games of the season but is expected to play alongside All-Star Domantis Sabonis. Caris Levert has just been ruled out due to health and safety protocols according to Shams. Originally I was taking the Pacers with this one, but with Caris LeVert being out I’m rocking with the young guns of the Hornets.
Picks: Hornets ML+105
#7 vs #8
The Wizards are the second hottest team in the league and boast a 19-3-2 in their last 24 games ATS. They got the NBA’s second-leading scorer, Bradley Beal, back for their regular season finale to pair with the all-time triple-double king, Russell Westbrook. The Celtics (-2) are without Jaylen Brown, and it remains to be seen which Kemba Walker will appear in this game. While Jason Tatum has the arsenal to carry a team to victory on a given night, Boston’s season-long struggles have me skeptical. Both teams have ~.500 records with the Over, so at 232.5 I’m leaning towards the Under. Life’s too short to bet the under, so I won’t be taking the under. Do with this information what you want.
Picks: Wizards ML +110
#9 vs #10
The Spurs sort of (but not really) get Coach Popp back to the playoffs behind Demar Derozan’s incredible season that no one talks about. It’s mind-boggling the Spurs win games when they shoot the fewest numbers of threes per game in the league. The Grizzlies (-4) are the home team and are the hungrier team. Ja Morant is a young star and just got back Jaren Jackson Jr to run the pick-and-pop with. I've been riding with the Grizz ATS for the last few weeks of the season and will be for this game. They shoot more threes, play a faster pace, and have Jonas Valenciunas to bruise opposing centers in the post.
Pick: Grizzlies -4
#7 vs #8
Yet another edition of LeBron vs Steph Curry. This is the most exciting game because of the names but loses the importance since it’s not a loser-goes-home scenario. With this iteration, Curry is pretty much playing by himself. I’m not disrespecting Wiggins, Oubre, and Draymond, but we’ve all seen the clips of Curry going one on four throughout most of this season. So maybe I am disrespecting Curry’s teammates since they can’t shoot the three-ball. LeBron is back in the lineup doing King things and AD seems to have his footing back. The Lakers (-4.5) have their supporting cast healthy and are still the favorites to win the title despite being in the play-in. It’s easy to see Curry going bananas like he has been all season, especially since he takes his games to the next level with his back against the wall. I’m valuing the Lakers defensive prowess and the Warriors cast’s inability to help carry an offense in support of Chef Curry.
Pick: Lakers ML -200
Other ideas: Curry points over and 3PM over
Hornets ML +105
Wizards ML +110
Lakers ML -200
Disclaimer: Eastern and Western Conference games are played on different days.
I’ll be back with a guide for the last round of play-in games. Until then, gimme the money.