Celtics (+8.5) @ BUCKS (219.5)
Pick: Bucks -8.5
I don’t think I’m alone in being surprised that this series is now 3-1 in favor of Milwaukee after Boston won the first game on the road so convincingly. Kyrie Irving seemed to be in a quitting mood on Monday night after the Celtics were pushed to the brink of elimination. It seems like things are back to the way they were in the middle of the regular season when the Celtics locker room was filled with drama. It’s surprising to see a roster as deep as Boston’s get outplayed as thoroughly as it did in the second halves of each of the last three games in this series. But, it’s time to come to terms with that reality. Milwaukee has started to separate itself from the pack in the East and will likely be around a two-dollar favorite, if not higher, in the Eastern Conference Finals. Favorites have been good bets ATS so far in the postseason, at 31-26-1 after the covers from Toronto and Denver on Tuesday and favorites of at least seven points have been even better bets. Milwaukee covered a steep point spread earlier in this series in Game 2. The Celtics appear to have tapped out and are likely to get blown out in their final game of the season.
Rockets (+6) @ WARRIORS (220.5)
Pick: Warriors First Quarter -2.5
Pick: Rockets +6
Even with increased motivation in the playoffs, Vegas continues to have a good handle on the two-time defending champions as Golden State is 4-6 ATS in 10 playoff games entering Wednesday’s Game 5 against Houston. Having said that, we took the Sixers in the first quarter in Game 3 last week against the Raptors based heavily on their strong starting five coming out hot as the series switched cities. The rationale is very similar behind taking Golden State in the first quarter tonight. Your starters play the bulk of the first 12 minutes and nobody has a better starting five than the Warriors. For the playoffs, Golden State is 9-1 ATS in the first quarter and has outscored opponents by 74 points in the opening period. After losing back-to-back games for the first time in the playoffs, the Warriors return to Oracle Arena and there’s no reason not to follow the first quarter trend and back Golden State to cover another first quarter. However, no game in this series has been decided by more than six points and Houston has to feel rejuvenated having gotten this to a best-of-three game series after losing the first two games on the road. I can’t see Houston winning a seventh game in Oakland, so this is its best chance to steal one in the Bay Area. Six points is too many for the full game.