Monday NBA Playoffs Odds, Picks, Predictions: Our Staff’s 5 Best Bets for Heat vs. Bucks, Trail Blazers vs. Nuggets Game 2 (May 24)

Monday NBA Playoffs Odds, Picks, Predictions: Our Staff’s 5 Best Bets for Heat vs. Bucks, Trail Blazers vs. Nuggets Game 2 (May 24) article feature image
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Garrett Ellwood/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Damian Lillard.

  • Day 3 of the NBA Playoffs should be as thrilling as the first two with Heat vs. Bucks and Trail Blazers vs. Nuggets on the slate for their respective Game 2s.
  • Our NBA team has five picks on these two games with most of the interest in the early matchup.
  • Check out where they are finding an edge in tonight's action.

After a wild first weekend to kick off the NBA Playoffs our crew is back in a big way on Monday’s two Game 2 matchups: Heat vs. Bucks (7:30 p.m. ET) and Trail Blazers vs. Nuggets (10 p.m. ET).

Our analysts are making five total bets on tonight’s games with two bets each on the spread and total for the early game and one spread bet on the late matchup.

Check out their analysis and bets below.

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NBA Odds & Picks

Click on a game to skip ahead
Heat vs. Bucks Spread
7:30 p.m. ET
Heat vs. Bucks Total
7:30 p.m. ET
Heat vs. Bucks Total
7:30 p.m. ET
Heat vs. Bucks Spread
7:30 p.m. ET
Trail Blazers vs. Nuggets Spread
10 p.m. ET

Miami Heat vs. Milwaukee Bucks

Pick
Bucks -4.5
Book
BetMGM
Tipoff
7:30 p.m. ET
TV
TNT

Matt Trebby: Game 1 of Heat vs. Bucks was not pretty, to say the least.

A generous man would call it a defensive battle, but I’d refer to it as an offensive struggle. Both teams registered Offensive Ratings of 97.3 while playing at the second-highest pace of all Game 1s.

It can’t get any worse than that for either team.

Between the two, I’m backing Milwaukee to show some inspired offensive firepower in Game 2, more specifically Giannis Antetokounmpo. The two-time MVP was an incredible inefficient 10-of-27 from the field in Game 1 and committed five turnovers. Also, Milwaukee was an awful 5-of-31 from 3-point range.

While Jimmy Butler was 4-of-22 from the field in Game 1 and positive regression is to be expected from him, Miami shot 20-of-50 from 3-point range. The Heat know how to beat the Bucks, and a hot series from beyond the arc is necessary to do so. Whether they get that kind of efficiency in Game 2 remains to be seen.

While acknowledging Butler is going to play better, I’m going to back the two-time MVP to ignite his team’s offense, as well as for Milwaukee to deliver a much-improved shooting performance. Laying 4.5 is very reasonable, and I’d add another point to it if necessary.


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Miami Heat vs. Milwaukee Bucks

Pick
Over 222.5
Book
BetMGM
Tipoff
7:30 p.m. ET
TV
TNT

Matt Moore: Home teams had a bizarre shooting weekend. No home team shot better than 33% from 3-point range and that was the New York Knicks.

The Milwaukee Bucks shot 5-of-31 from deep in Game 1. The Bucks always struggle from a shooting regression in the playoffs, but even then, that was extreme.

Meanwhile, Game 1 was played at the second-fastest pace of any game this weekend. The Bucks are always going to apply pressure in transition, and yet they had just two fastbreak points.

Meanwhile, this total has moved 4.5 points and gone down. The money is coming in on the under, but I like the offenses to heat … er … warm up a bit and this to go over.

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Miami Heat vs. Milwaukee Bucks

Pick
Over 222.5
Book
BetMGM
Tipoff
7:30 p.m. ET
TV
TNT

Austin Wang: Game 1 between the Milwaukee Bucks and the Miami Heat was an eye-sore for fans that wanted to see some scoring. The Bucks squeaked out a 109-107 victory in overtime behind Khris Middleton’s amazing shot, which still fell way below the closing total of 227.

Miami shot only 36-for-99 (36%) from the field. The Bucks shot 42-for-96 (43%) from the field and 5-for-31 (16%) from behind the arc. Defense was the name of the game and these teams really brought their best for game one.

However, now that total has fell from 227 to 222.5, which screams an over-reaction to me.

In the month of the May, the Heat and Bucks ranked second and fifth in Offensive Rating (122.2 and 119.4, respectively), per NBA Advanced Stats. These teams are much more capable of scoring at a higher level than game one indicated.

I don’t see Jimmy Butler and Bam Adebayo shooting a combined 8-for-37 from the field again. The Bucks were the sixth-best 3-point shooting team in the NBA all season long at 38.57% and I don’t anticipate them going 5-for-31 again.

Teams off an overtime game in Round 1 have gone 25-9-1 (73.5%) to the over since the 2005-2006 season, per the SDQL database.

In the Bucks’ last five playoff series, if game one went under the total, their next game went 5-0 to the over. It appears they make necessary adjustments on the offensive end to make up for the prior low-scoring game.

Their first game was a grind, but with both teams shaking off some game one jitters and their defense suffering a bit from the overtime slugfest, I see the opportunity for more scoring in game two. I predict that it will finish in the high 220s and will look to take advantage of a line that opened up a tad too low at 222.5.

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Miami Heat vs. Milwaukee Bucks

Pick
Bucks -4.5
Book
BetMGM
Tipoff
7:30 p.m. ET
TV
TNT

Raheem Palmer: As Matt Moore mentioned, home teams have been struggling from behind the arc in the first round — 76-of-278 (27.3%). The Bucks weren’t immune from the poor shooting variance and despite shooting just 5-of-31 (16.1%) from behind the arc, they still were a failed defensive rebound away from potentially covering the 4.5-point spread in overtime.

Bam Adebayo grabbed the offensive rebound, Goran Dragic tied the game and Khris Middleton made the game winner, the Bucks win but the Heat cover.

Although the poor 3-point shooting variance has hit home teams, road teams are shooting normal percentages while the Heat ran very well, shooting 20-of-50 (40%) from behind the arc, outscoring the Bucks by 45 points from deep, a disparity that the Bucks were able to make up by holding the Heat to just 32% from 2-point range.

To get more granular, the Heat shot just 37.5% at the rim and 30.3% in the midrange, largely due to Jimmy Butler shooting just 4-of-22 (18%) from the field. The Heat have struggled offensively for most of the year and it’s clear the Bucks can handle this incarnation of their offense as it’s not nearly as good as the team we saw in the bubble.

Overall, I think the Bucks are the better team here and with a normal shooting performance from the Bucks they should cover the 4.5-point spread which I personally believe is too low.

My model makes this game 5.5 so there’s some value here. In addition, top three seeds that didn’t cover Game 1 of a playoff series are 46-34-4 (57.5%), according to our Bet Labs database.


The Bucks, Nuggets, 76ers and Jazz all fit this trend. The Heat are getting respect based on what they’ve done last year, but as I said before, this isn’t last year’s team.


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Portland Trail Blazers vs. Denver Nuggets

Pick
Nuggets -1.5
Book
PointsBet
Tipoff
10 p.m. ET
TV
TNT

Brandon Anderson: I picked the Blazers to win this series with more confidence than I expected heading into my playoff prep, and Game 1 was a great reminder of exactly why.

Denver is just badly outgunned in this series. As awesome as Nikola Jokic is — and he’s the deserving MVP even if the Nuggets get swept here — this is a guards league now, and poor Denver is bringing a couple rocks and a butter knife to a gun fight in this one. It’s just not a fair fight.

Portland has Dame Time all time, plus a healthy CJ McCollum whose game always suits the playoffs, and now Norm Powell and an improved Anfernee Simons are playing well too.

It says a lot that you could tell me Simons was traded overnight to Denver and I’d have to rethink my entire position on the series because of a young fourth guard option suddenly being the best Denver had to offer.

So yeah, I feel even better about Portland in the series — but I’m still taking Denver tonight.

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As much as Portland got the easy win in Game 1, nothing is ever easy against these Nuggets. Don’t forget, this is a team that came back down 3-1 in last year’s playoffs in two straight series, and they did that super shorthanded too, with no Will Barton and no Gary Harris for part of the time.

Denver still posted good offensive metrics in Game 1, and that was even with Michael Porter Jr. going 1-for-10 on 3s and even with Nikola Jokic’s teammates shooting just 1-for-10 on potential Jokic assists. The Nuggets are going to score, in part because Portland’s defense is really bad.

Denver just needs to ramp up its defense and limit some of the open looks it allowed, and the shooting variance needs to bounce back in the Nuggets’ favor, which is to say Simons and Carmelo Anthony probably aren’t going to both make four 3s off the bench every game.

This is the season for Denver. The Nuggets are at home with their backs against the wall. Go down 0-2 at home and you need to win four of five games with three on the road while you have no guards, and that’s curtains.

This team is too proud and too good to go away this easily. The MVP will find a way, and I think MPJ has a big night too. This may or may not be Denver’s last stand, but I won’t count the Nuggets out until they’re all the way out.


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