NBA Playoffs Odds, Picks, Predictions: 3 Best Bets for Friday’s Game 3s of Nets vs. Celtics, Clippers vs. Mavericks (May 28)

NBA Playoffs Odds, Picks, Predictions: 3 Best Bets for Friday’s Game 3s of Nets vs. Celtics, Clippers vs. Mavericks (May 28) article feature image
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Adam Pantozzi/NBAE via Getty Images. Pictured: Kawhi Leonard #2 and Paul George #13 of the LA Clippers.

  • The theme of Friday's Game 3 matchups is motivation and our NBA analysts are betting on two matchups where that is expected to be on display.
  • They are betting spreads in Nets vs. Celtics and Clippers vs. Mavericks on Friday night.
  • Find their full analysis and picks for those games below.

Friday night’s NBA Playoffs slate brings us a trio of Game 3s with two that essentially must-win situations.

The Los Angeles Clippers enter tonight’s games in an 0-2 hole and on the road facing the Dallas Mavericks. The Boston Celtics head home down 0-2 to the Brooklyn Nets who have dominated the series up to this point.

Those two matchups are where our NBA analysts are focusing their attention for their favorite bets tonight and they are betting one first quarter moneyline, one first half spread and one full game spread in tonight’s actions.

Check out their analysis and picks for those games below.

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NBA Odds & Picks

Click on a pick to skip ahead
Nets vs. Celtics Spread
8:30 p.m. ET
Nets vs. Celtics 1Q
8:30 p.m. ET
Clippers vs. Mavericks 1H
9:30 p.m. ET

Brooklyn Nets vs. Boston Celtics

Pick
Nets -8
Book
PointsBet
Tipoff
8:30 p.m. ET
TV
ABC

Austin Wang: The Boston Celtics’ days are numbered as they return to the TD Garden in Boston for Game 3 down 0-2 to the Brooklyn Nets. To add fuel to the fire, Kemba Walker has a left knee medial bone bruise and with Jaylen Brown already out for the season, there is no way the Celtics match up to the Nets.

The Nets might have looked rusty in Game 1, but quickly whipped themselves into shape for Game 2 as they had three players score 20-plus points (Kevin Durant, Joe Harris, James Harden) and shot 52% from the field as a team in a 130-108 thrashing of the Celtics in Brooklyn.

Jeff Green has been listed out for the Nets with a strained left foot and will be re-evaluated in 10 days. He did not end up playing too much in Game 2, but I am wondering if head coach Steve Nash could give Durant some minutes at the center position, which would unlock a frightening scenario for the Celtics.

Underdogs of four or more points off a road loss in a playoff series are 22-42-2 ATS (34.4%) since the 2016-2017 season, per the Sports Data Query Language database. This is active as a play to fade the Celtics — teams off a loss don’t bounce back as often as one may expect in the following game.

To dig a little deeper, home underdogs off a double-digit loss on the road have gone 11-32-1 ATS (25.6%) in that same timeframe. This is also active as a play to fade the Celtics. Typically you would expect teams in this situation to respond after an embarrassing loss, but I expect this will have a similar result to the Bucks-Heat Game 3 where the dominant teams continues to succeed.

The Celtics are outmatched and the I don’t expect home-court advantage to change their fortune. The Nets have covered in seven straight games dating back to May 8. I make the line Nets -9.5 and I anticipate the Nets get a double-digit victory and get one game closer to a sweep.

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Brooklyn Nets vs. Boston Celtics

Pick
Celtics 1Q ML (+145)
Book
BetMGM
Tipoff
8:30 p.m. ET
TV
ABC

Brandon Anderson: Heading into the playoffs, I thought the Celtics were the perfect first-round opponent for the Nets.

Brooklyn is a talented team that was clearly going to win the series but needed a real challenge, someone to push them early so they’d have to find themselves and prove their mettle.

Oops.

The Celtics didn’t get the memo, and this series certainly appears to be a wrap. Games 1 and 2 have resembled AAU ball more than NBA playoff action, and that’s just how the Nets like it. Even worse, already down Jaylen Brown, the Celtics saw both Jayson Tatum and Kemba Walker injured in Game 2.

Tatum exited with an eye injury but should be fine for tonight. Walker has been cleared to play despite a bone bruise, but will be less than 100% physically for Game 3.

If there’s one thing you can count on in the playoffs, it’s typically that the underdog team gets home down 0-2 and comes out firing its best shot. This is the season, and it’s now or never in front of a desperate home crowd. Expect a loud and involved crowd early, and a fired up home team.

I don’t trust Boston to keep the momentum going. I don’t trust the Celtics’ bench, and I don’t trust Walker’s health to hold up as the game progresses. That’s why I’m just playing one quarter. Just 12 minutes. I just need some fight for 12 lousy minutes.

We don’t really know Brooklyn yet, but the Nets strike me as the sort of team that will have some Warriors-itis in them. Rather than stepping on an opponent’s throat out of the gates like Milwaukee did yesterday, I can more easily see the Nets thinking the job is done and coming out a bit lifeless while Boston is playing at 110% fighting for its life.

My series-long prediction doesn’t look to have much legs at this point. It’s tough to see this going long, and the Celtics appear to be dead men walking. I’m just looking for the Celtics to make one more push for their season and get a single first quarter win at a nice plus juice price, and then I’ll wash my hands of this game and let them play the rest out from there.

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Los Angeles Clippers vs. Dallas Mavericks

Pick
Clippers -1.5 1H
Book
FanDuel
Tipoff
9:30 p.m. ET
TV
ESPN

Raheem Palmer: As I mentioned in my NBA Playoff trends article, one of the most profitable angles over the past few years has been backing home teams down 0-2 in both the first quarter and first half of games.

Oddsmakers have caught on to the impact of this trend in recent years, pricing it in so that you’re laying the same number for the first half and full game.

Interestingly enough, the Clippers are down 0-2, but on the road against the Mavericks and yet they’re still getting the same respect from the oddsmakers as they’re laying -2 for the full game as well as -2 for the first half. I think that speaks volumes about the severity of the Clippers’ current situation.

I don’t like to get into too many narratives when it comes to handicapping, but the NBA Playoffs are the one market within the four major sports where you see the desperation factor priced into lines.

This a franchise defining game for the Clippers who traded Shai Gilgeous Alexander, Danilo Gallinari and a whopping five first round picks for Paul George in order to bring Kawhi Leonard to the franchise. The duo of Leonard and George was supposed to legitimize the Clippers as true championship contenders.

Two years into this experiment, all the Clippers have to show is a blown 3-1 lead in the bubble and an 0-2 deficit to a Mavericks team they seemingly preferred to play heading into the final day of the regular season.

Down 0-2, the Clippers look dead as fried chicken — but I’m not sure they’re exactly drawing dead. As dominant as Luka Doncic has been, the difference in this series has been Dallas’ role players who have been hotter than July — they made 17 3-pointers on 47.2% shooting in Game 1 and 18 3s on 52.9% shooting in Game 2. Tim Hardaway Jr. in particular is shooting 64% from behind the arc on 8.5 attempts per game.

For a team that ranked 17th in 3-point shooting percentage this season, making just 36.9% of their 3-point attempts, this is far from sustainable. In addition, there’s some adjustments the Clippers can make, so I’m not willing to completely rule out them doing something to slow down the Mavericks.

The Clippers haven’t struggled to score as they’ve had an Offensive Rating of 122 during this series. Overall, if they can get some regression from the Mavericks offense they can fight their way back into this series.

It starts with the Game 3 and I’m backing the Clippers to come out with a sense of desperation an urgency in a legacy and franchise deciding game. I’ll lay the Clippers first half -1.5 up to -2.

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