NBA Odds, Picks, Predictions: Our Staff’s Best Playoff Bets for Nets vs. Celtics, Clippers vs. Mavericks, More (Sunday, May 30)
Jeff Haynes/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Luka Doncic.
Four Game 4s are on the docket for Sunday with every team having at least one win, meaning no one is packing their bags for the offseason after play concludes today.
Our NBA analysts are looking at all of the games on Sunday's playoff slate and are betting the spread in three matchups, along with the total in two.
NBA Odds & Picks
Raheem Palmer: I’m not sure they can adjust the totals for this Hawks/Knicks series enough. This has been a very slow-paced series at 94.2, 97.5 and 90.2 throughout the first three games with all of them flying under the total.
Looking back further, the under has hit in the past six Hawks games and seven out of the last eight Knicks games. Although the Knicks' defensive prowess under Tom Thibodeau is well championed, Atlanta’s defense has stepped up with this team finally being healthy.
They’re holding the Knicks to just 106.4 points per 100 possessions, while limiting them to under 100 points in two out of the three games this series. Despite Trae Young’s dominance, as well as the Hawks shooting 59.3% from behind the arc in game 3, they aren’t exactly setting the world on fire offensively either. The Hawks are scoring just 107.9 points per 100 possessions in this series.
Overall, you have two solid defensive teams, a slow pace and two offenses that haven’t been great, and you have the recipe for an under. I think this total is too high and would place it around 208. I’ll play the under 209.5.
Lakers vs. Suns
Austin Wang: In Game 4 on Sunday afternoon between the Los Angeles Lakers and Phoenix Suns, I find a betting edge on the current total of 209.5. Games 1 and 3 failed to break 200 points and went under by a mile. Game 2 went over by the hook (211 points), thanks to a fluky game with 61 trips to the free throw line.
The Lakers continue to include Andre Drummond and Anthony Davis together in the starting lineup. With those two defensive-minded big men on the floor together, I expect the pace to remain slow and the game to be low-scoring. The Lakers are primarily an "under" team, as their games have gone 44-29-2 (60.3%) to the under this season.
Davis was the main focal point on offense for Game 3 and exploded with 34 points on 11-for-22 shooting from the field. In the game following a win when Davis has more field goal attempts than James, the Lakers have gone 21-8 (72.4%) to the under since Davis joined the team in the 2019-2020 season, per the Sports Data Query Language database. This implies to me that the Lakers tend to continue to feed the big man in the following game. This may lead to more post-ups for Davis, which is more conducive for a slow-paced game. Davis is listed on the injury report as questionable with a left knee sprain.
Chris Paul is also listed as questionable for this game, but since the Suns are down 2-1 and with two days off to rest his hurt shoulder, I don't anticipate he misses this crucial game. However, with his shoulder less than 100% and visibly affecting his shot, the Lakers can afford to sag off on him and focus their defensive efforts on Devin Booker. Also, I can see the Lakers easily running away with this game, potentially setting up a game script for a blowout that is favorable to an under.
I believe the fair number on this total should be 206, which sets up an opportunity where I see a lot of value on the total. I will be playing the under on the total at 209.5 and would play this down to 208.
Lakers vs. Suns
Roberto Arguello: Devin Booker will need to step up and have a huge scoring night while improving as a 3-point shooter (28.1% on 3s this series) with Chris Paul limited.
The Suns also need their secondary scorers like Cameron Payne, Jae Crowder, Mikal Bridges and Cameron Johnson to convert their open 3s often and at an efficient rate. When Crowder (who leads the Suns in 3-point attempts but is shooting 10% on them this series) and Paul have been on the court together, the Lakers have been aggressively sagging off them to limit spacing for Booker and Deandre Ayton.
Getting downhill into the paint and forcing rotations is the key to the Lakers’ offensive success against the Suns.
When the Lakers go smaller with Davis at the five, they have attacked Ayton in space and taken advantage of rotations to set up open shooters. When the Lakers go bigger with Davis at the four and Drummond/Gasol at the five, they have advantages with Davis and James posting up smaller defenders.
This forces the Suns to either leave their overmatched defenders on an island or rotate and allow the Lakers to hit open cutters/shooters. If the Lakers miss shots, they also have an advantage on the boards inside as Drummond led the team to a 38.8% offensive rebounding rate in Game 3.
While the Lakers have won the last two games, they have done so despite struggling from beyond the arc as they have made just 27.6% of their 3s this series. These past two wins probably should have been blowouts if the Lakers could simply hit on a more normal percentage of their open 3s, and I expect some regression to the mean on Sunday as the Lakers win and cover.
Nets vs. Celtics
Brandon Anderson: Good for the Boston Celtics.
Boston was down 0-2 in the series after losses by a combined 33 points, and then the Celtics returned home and immediately fell behind 19-4 in under four minutes against one of the most talented teams, at least offensively, ever assembled. Any sensible team would have understandably folded up shop at that point and started planning for the offseason.
Not these Celtics, though, and not Jayson Tatum. Tatum had the game of his life with a 50-piece to lead the way, and Boston got a huge night from Tristan Thompson, along with great games from youngsters Romeo Langford, Grant Williams and Aaron Nesmith off the bench. Boston came all the way back and eked out a 6-point victory to avoid the sweep.
So can Boston tie the series up at 2-2 now with a second straight home victory?
Don't count on it.
You just read how much Boston had to do just to steal a win in Game 3, and now the injury report paints a grim picture. Kemba Walker is questionable with a knee bruise. He played only 33 minutes in Game 3 and has been miserable so far this series. He's tied for fifth on the team at 12.7 PPG and shooting a horrendous 32% from the field and 18% on 3s. Kemba has never really been healthy this season, and it ain't gonna happen in the next week.
Even if Walker does play, the Celtics are already missing Jaylen Brown, and it looks like they'll be missing their best big man, Robert Williams. Williams was a Game 1 monster with 11 points, nine rebounds and nine assists. He's been an advanced metrics darling all year and has been terrific in the series. Timelord is plus-21 for the series with a positive plus-minus on-off differential in all three games, and that's no small feat for a team that lost by 11 and 22 the first two games. Remember that 19-4 run in Game 3? It ended exactly when Williams came in. When he left the court, it was 30-23, and the game was afoot.
Williams won't be out there for Game 4, and Boston is running out of options. No Williams, no Brown, limited Kemba at best. They're not going to get 50 from Tatum again, and they're probably not getting 19 points and 13 rebounds from Tristan Thompson either, including nine offensive boards.
Good on Boston for avoiding the sweep. That should wake Brooklyn up just enough to get the Nets to cover one last Celtics stand here and go home for the gentleman's sweep. I'll take Brooklyn to cover the seven and play to -8.
Mavericks vs. Clippers
Justin Phan: Luka Doncic complained about a neck issue after the loss in Game 3 on Friday, and he is currently listed as questionable ahead of Game 4 on Sunday due to a cervical strain.
Doncic told the media he was dealing with discomfort in his neck that trickled down his left arm, and he was spotted wearing an ice pack on his left shoulder in the second half Friday.
Despite the questionable tag, it seems unlikely Doncic will sit barring a setback, but I doubt he will be at 100% on Sunday night.
I'm backing the Clippers on the road here. I bet this at -2.5 but like the Clippers to cover up to -3.5.