Bucks (+2) @ Celtics (220)
Pick: Celtics -2
It’s likely to be an emotional night in Boston on Friday as the Celtics resume their Eastern Conference Semifinals series against the Bucks. General manager Danny Ainge suffered a mild heart attack on Tuesday in Milwaukee and the Celtics announced the news yesterday. It might sound crazy that this gets factored into the handicap of this game, but it would make sense if the Celtics rallied for the man that is the reason they’re all together. I liked the Celtics in the beginning of this series and quite honestly am surprised this number isn’t at least at 3.5-point chalk for Boston. Milwaukee might have finished the regular season higher in the standings, but that’s irrelevant now. These are two evenly matched teams and the home team was laying around 7-8 points depending on where you shopped in the first two games. Milwaukee was going to get that kind of respect as a No. 1 seed, but I’m not sure splitting games on its home floor warrants the Bucks being only a two-point pup here. The spread feels short as is, and with Boston playing at home 24 hours after Ainge’s health scare became public, expect an inspired Celtics team on Friday night.
Nuggets (+4) @ Trail Blazers (215.5)
Pick: Trail Blazers First Half -2
Portland winning Game 2 in Denver with a below average night for Damian Lillard by his standards was pretty impressive. C.J. McCollum still looked like himself and the role players for the Trail Blazers all stepped up and helped get this series knotted at 1. In our Sixers v Raptors handicap yesterday, we mentioned that role players often step up at home so we’d expect players like Rodney Hood, Enes Kanter and Al-Farouq Aminu to come out with confidence back home. Lillard’s also going to play much better tonight. In the three games at home against Oklahoma City in the first round, the Weber State product dropped 30, 29 and 50 points respectively. I lean to Portland laying the four when taking a side for the full game in this one, but I usually prefer to take the first quarter or first half at a shorter number when a series switches cities so the stronger play is to lay the deuce and back the Trail Blazers in the first 24 minutes.