NBA Odds, Picks, Predictions: Our Staff’s Best Bets for Knicks vs. Hawks, Grizzlies vs. Jazz (Sunday, May 23)
Jeff Swinger/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Jordan Clarkson #00 and Rudy Gobert #27 of the Utah Jazz.
We’re onto Day 2 of the NBA Playoffs and our analysts are eyeing the two evening games on Sunday’s slate for their best bets.
Check out their analysis and bets below.
NBA Odds & Picks
New York Knicks vs. Atlanta Hawks
Austin Wang: Unders on Game 1s of the first round have typically been a profitable wager. Three out of four games went under the total Saturday. Including those four games, each Game 1 dating back to the 2011-2012 season have gone 46-29-1 (61.3%) to the under.
In addition, during this same timeframe in where the previous regular season matchup went over, it has gone 22-9-1 (71%) to the under. I believe the market and bookmakers shades the total higher than it should be due to recency bias.
Both systems above are active on the New York Knicks-Atlanta Hawks series matchup. The pace slows down, the defense ramps up and many players struggle in the first game under the limelight, especially on offense.
I believe this will hold true for this series that features many young players who will be making their first trip to the big dance. Hawks’ star Trae Young and the Knicks’ young duo of R.J. Barrett and Immanuel Quickley are just a few examples of high-usage players that will be making their playoff debut.
Furthermore, Madison Square Garden will have 15,000 fans on hand ready to cheer their team being in the playoffs for the first time since 2013. The arena will be rocking and will most definitely affect both teams that have not been accustomed to this sort of crowd all season.
Tom Thibodeau and Nate McMillan are both defensive-minded coaches and I expect this to be a low-scoring grind that may mirror some of the Pat Riley and Jeff Van Gundy days. The Knicks have done their best to mirror those teams as they rank the dead last in the league in Pace (95.8).
Editor’s note: Donovan Mitchell is not expected to play in Game 1, according to ESPN late on Sunday afternoon.
Memphis Grizzlies vs. Utah Jazz
Raheem Palmer: This is a pretty easy decision for me. We have a rested Utah Jazz team taking on the Memphis Grizzlies who just played two tough play-in games against the San Antonio Spurs at home and Golden State Warriors in the Bay Area.
Now the Grizzlies have to travel to Utah to take on one of the best teams in the league and a team with one of the best homecourt advantages in the four major sports.
Overall, I think the Grizzlies are overmatched here. The Jazz rank third in Defensive Rating (107.5) while the Grizzlies are 16th in Offensive Rating (112.2).
The Jazz have a solid counter for the things the Grizzles like to do. The Grizzlies thrive off mid-range jump shots and floaters — they rank fourth in frequency, shooting 36.7% of their attempts and making 43.6% of those shot. The Jazz rank fifth in opponent field goal percentage from the mid-range allowing teams to shoot 40.8% from that area.
Not only do the Jazz have a top tier defense, they rank third in Offensive Rating, scoring 118.7 points per 100 possessions in their non garbage time minutes. Unlike the Warriors, the Jazz aren’t just built around one singular star. The entire team can bomb from the outside as they’re making a league-leading 17 3s per game.
Donovan Mitchell is the team’s leading scorer at 26.4 points a game and is expected to be back after missing the past 16 games. The Jazz haven’t skipped a beat, holding the team’s top Net Rating (8.3), while ranking ninth in Offensive Rating (115.4) and maintaining the league’s top Defensive Rating (107.1).
With a healthy Mitchell, Mike Conley, Rudy Gobert, plus a top-five offense and defense, the Jazz are primed for a deep playoff run after blowing a 3-1 lead to the Nuggets in the bubble last year. It starts here with them taking the Grizzlies into the deep waters and drowning them. Lay the 8.5 points.