It wasn't the prettiest basketball game I've ever watched, but Game 3 of this series featured a slew of storylines that people are losing their minds over.
Here in Canada, Dwayne Wade is public enemy No. 1 for his antics during the singing of "O' Canada". My opinion on that matter is that it's disrespectful, however the entire pre game seemed a little sloppy and rushed. Every athlete is a creature of habit, and messing with pre-game routines will throw off even the best of athletes. As a Canadian athlete myself, I find myself on Wade's side of this silly story.
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The real storyline in this series is the two key injuries to both team's starting centers. Jonas Valanciunas has been ruled out for the remainder of the series after rolling his ankle and having to be helped off the court. Just prior to that, Miami center Hassan Whiteside injured his knee when teammate Luol Deng fell on top of him. Whiteside has been ruled out for Game 4 with a knee sprain and his status for the remaining games is to be determined.
From a betting perspective, I was not able to get my selections in on time for Game 3 of the series, so my Game 2 thoughts are as followed. Valanciunas is a beast and was able to score the required 15 points for me. The game total and Miami team total fell short by one and half points. The Heat scored 92 instead of the required 93 and the total rang in at 188 instead of 189. Vegas does it again.
With Valanciunas out of tonight's game and the remainder of the series, I only have two props lined up for you. JV has been a real money maker for me in the first nine games of the post season, therefore I am shelving the "player total" props.
As always, odds and lines are courtesy of Bovada.
Game Total - Range
Between 191 - 200 Total Points - Regulation Only (+220)
Game 2 of this series saw the total stay under the number by one point while Game 3 saw the total push on the closing line of 186. It's crazy how sharp these lines are, and a tip of the cap to Vegas for hitting them spot on.
Moving onto Game 4 - both big men are out, which should mean much more outside shooting and opportunities to drive the lane without too much regard for getting shots blocked. While Valanciunas' 15 points per game will be missed dearly, I think Patrick Patterson and Bismack Biyombo can fill the void and perform admirably in JV's place. Hassan Whiteside averaged only nine points per game, which can be made up in a few baskets from the rest of the team.
What I like about this prop bet is the return to form of Kyle Lowry and Wade. Wade seems to have returned to his younger self in the second half, scoring 29 of his 38 points in the second half while Lowry dropped 33 points after struggling mightily for much of the first round of the playoffs.
With both starting centers watching in civvies on the bench, look for these two all-star guards to continue to put up points and get their teammates involved. I think this game sneaks over the number, but it won't reach 200. Great value here.
Pick: Between 191 - 200 Total Points - Regulation Only (+220)
First Half Spread
Toronto Raptors +3, -110
I am going to sound as professional as I can, but to say the NBA thinks the Toronto Raptors are a joke is putting it lightly. I still don't understand how a No.2 seed can be a five-and-a-half-point underdog against a Miami team that lost the season series and finished with eight fewer wins.
The Raptors have been in this situation before, and I believe they have learned from their mistakes and are going to come out hungry and ready to get the job done. Against Indiana in the first round, the Raptors were up 2-1 in the series and got absolutely blitzed in this first quarter of Game 4 by a hungry and desperate Pacers team. I expect the same motivation and hunger from Miami, but I am certain that head coach Dwane Casey has been on his team all day about what transpired that day. I expect the Raptors to show up ready to ball.
At this point, we all know Miami will be without Whiteside for at least Game 4. This opens up the opportunity for the Raptors to be aggressive and get to the rim and draw some fouls. Once they do that enough, it will open up the perimeter shooters for easy looks when the weak-side defense collapses the paint to help.
Learning from your mistakes is a crucial part of playing any sports to make sure they don't happen again. I think without Whiteside and with history not in their favor, the Raptors will come out strong and look to put a stranglehold on Game 4 early and ultimately the series by the end of the night.
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