It's playoff time in the NBA. Just as I have done all season, I will continue to handicap the Washington Wizards for as long as their run lasts as the No. 5 seed in the East. I have also been releasing free picks for their games with the use of Doc's Sports Unit Betting System to put some money behind the betting strategy of specialization. The results have been mixed with 12-11-2 record during the regular season, but I am also looking for a strong run in the postseason.
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Doc's will continue to post these free picks for Washington games on its homepage, so be sure to check the site to follow along with my progress. The Wizards continue to build some momentum for a longer run than expected, so my plan is to capitalize on their success for as long as it lasts.
Washington Wizards Free Picks, Odds and Predictions
Friday, April 24, 8 p.m. EST (Verizon Center)
The opening-round matchup off this year's NBA Playoffs between Washington and Toronto shifts to the Verizon Center this Friday night for Game 3 of this best-of-seven Eastern Conference tilt. Tipoff is slated for 8 p.m. (ET), and the game will be broadcast nationally on ESPN2.
Toronto came into this series as the No. 4 seed in the East, and it was set as a slight favorite to advance to next round. The Raptors closed out the regular season with four straight up victories in their last five games with the total staying under in four of those contests. After losing the first two games of this series, they have now failed to cover against the spread in five of their last six outings.
The Wizards suddenly find themselves in the driver's seat in this series after pulling off two big upsets on the road. After winning the opener 93-86 in overtime last Saturday as 5.5-point underdogs, they turned up the juice on Tuesday night in a 117-106 victory as five-point underdogs. The total stayed "under" the closing 196-point line in Game 1 before going "over" the 193.5-point line in Game 2.
Toronto at Washington Betting Storylines
The Raptors had to know this was going to be a tough series between two closely-matched teams, but it's highly doubtful that they thought they would be in an 0-2 hole as a result of two poor performances on their home court. In Game 1, Toronto's starting five managed to score a grand total of 38 points, with DeMar DeRozan accounting for almost half (15) of those points. This past Tuesday, the Raptors exceeded their 104 PPG scoring average that was ranked fourth in the NBA, but 56 of those points came from the bench.
DeRozan scored 20 points in Game 2, and center Jonas Valanciunas added 15 more, but one of Toronto's top scorers, Kyle Lowry, was held to just six points after scoring only seven points in the series opener. A greater concern is that Lowry left Tuesday's game with a shin contusion, but as of now he is still probable for Friday's game. You get the feeling that things are starting to slip away for this team as this series progresses.
It has been a real bumpy ride with the Wizards this season, but they are finally starting to play the kind of basketball that got them off to a fast start when the regular season first began. In Game 1 of this series, they relied heavily on a defense that allowed just 97.8 points per game this season to get the win. This past Tuesday night, Washington showed some star power to score more than 115 points for just the second time since early February.
Paul Pierce was able to turn back the clock in the series opener with a game-high 20 points to help pace the win, but it was the Wizards' two biggest stars that stole the show in Game 2. John Wall exploded for 26 points and 17 assists and Bradley Beal led all scorers with 28 points. Washington shot a blistering 53.2 percent from the field, and it won the battle of the boards with 45 rebounds to Toronto's 28.
Toronto at Washington NBA Betting Odds and Key Trends
BetOnline has listed the Wizards as four-point home favorites for Friday's Game 3, and the betting odds on the total have been set at 195.5.
The Raptors are 2-5 ATS in their last seven road games against a team with a SU winning record at home, and they have now failed to cover in their last five opening round playoff games. The total has gone over in 10 of their last 14 road games.
The Wizards are 4-1-1 ATS in their last six games following a SU win, but they are just 1-3-2 ATS in their last six games at home. The total has gone over in eight of their last 10 home games.
The underdog has gone 4-0 both SU and ATS in the last four meetings, and the total has stayed under in seven of the last 11 meetings in Washington.
Toronto at Washington Free NBA Picks and Betting Predictions
I would love to go with a big play on Washington to cover at home in this game, but past experience behind a very shaky 17-23-1 record ATS at home this season tempers my enthusiasm for this early success. What I do like in this matchup is a 3-Unit play on the over on the total line with both Wall and Beal continuing to play at a high level.
3-Unit Play-Take Toronto at Washington OVER 195.5
NBA Regular Season Betting Record: 12-11-2 (-$260)
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Read more articles by Dave Schwab
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