Spurs (+7) @ Nuggets (208.5)
Pick: Nuggets first half -4
The only reason I’m not taking the Nuggets for the full game at -7 is because I don’t trust them to outplay San Antonio in a playoff contest for 48 minutes. This was my upset pick in the first round out West and the Spurs stole the first game in the Mile High City. It would be vintage Greg Popovich to get down double-digits late in the third quarter and call the dogs off in the fourth knowing he got his split on the road. Denver’s going to come out strong in a must-win game at home in a building it has played well in all season. The concern on the full-game side here is if Golden State can blow a 31-point lead at home, then the Nuggets could blow a 15-point lead, which is kind of where I think this game settles after three quarters. I’d rather not take any chances on a team with little playoff experience laying a touchdown against the seasoned Spurs. I’ll take Denver to play a strong first 24 minutes instead.
Thunder (+2) @ Trail Blazers (221.5)
Pick: Under 221.5
Every NBA Game 1 over the weekend was Under. However, just because both Overs hit in the two games Monday doesn’t mean there’s going to be a run on them. This Oklahoma City-Portland series is going to produce a lot of close games, the way it did on Sunday in the series opener won by Portland by five. An interesting trend that I think carries over from the regular season to the playoffs is the total in games in which Oklahoma City is an underdog. Including Game 1 in Portland on Sunday, the Thunder have been an underdog 19 out of 83 games this season. In those 19 games, the Under is 15-4. In other words, the Thunder play harder and with more defensive intensity when they’re not expected to win. This is a pretty big game for Oklahoma City, and so that kind of intensity could come back on Tuesday. No play on the side here, because, as I said, I’m expecting several tight games in this series. While I would lean to the Thunder plus the deuce, the much stronger play here is going under 221.5.