Free NBA Picks Thursday 8/20/2020 and Opening Line Report
The NBA Playoffs is underway, and we’ve already seen a bunch of surprising upsets and thrilling finishes. The Milwaukee Bucks and Los Angeles Lakers lost their opening games as the one seed in their respective conferences. Can both teams snap out of it and get wins in Game 2? Here are the leans in the NBA for Thursday’s playoff action.
Heat vs Pacers 8/20/20 (+5, 214.5)
This series started with many thinking this game could go all seven games. However, Victor Oladipo has an injured eye and now there are concerns if he’ll be able to play this upcoming game. The Pacers without Oladipo are likely finished. TJ Warren doesn’t have much help offensively, and the Heat have played very solid defense against the Pacers throughout their time in the bubble. Jimmy Butler has really turned into a leader in Miami. Many questioned his decision to be the top player in Miami when he could’ve gone elsewhere and teamed up with other great players. Instead, he’s making his teammates look better and he’s also performing.
Key trends: Pacers are 0-4-1 ATS in their last 5 Conference Quarterfinals games.
Early lean: Heat, Under
Thunder vs Rockets 8/20/20 (-2, 226.5)
Out of the gate, the expectation was for the Thunder to give the Rockets a problem early. Instead, it took Thunder’s Chris Paul a half to get comfortable and the Rockets nailed plenty of threes to get the win. Russell Westbrook is still out with an injury. It was important for the Rockets to escape game one with the win with Westbrook out. The Thunder should come into this game like the Nets came into Game 2 against the Raptors but then ultimately fall late in the game. Harden is an incredible scorer and will continue his scoring dominance moving forward.
Key trends: Rockets are 6-2 ATS in their last 8 Conference Quarterfinals games.
Early lean: Rockets, Over
Magic vs Bucks 8/20/20 (-12.5, 227.5)
Expect the unexpected. Plenty of things went wrong on August 18 in the NBA. The Bucks losing to the Magic was one of the top on the list. Imagine the Bucks go down 2-0 to the Orlando Magic? Can we really see that happening? The reality is, the Bucks have not played well in the bubble at all this season, and it’s starting to show in the playoffs. Defensively, they’ve been pretty poor, and they’re not getting much contribution from their role players like we saw so much of throughout the season. The Bucks should come out prepared and ready for this one. But I’d be a little worried. This is not the same team we’re used to seeing out of the Bucks.
Key trends: Bucks are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 Conference Quarterfinals games.
Early lean: Bucks, Over
Trail Blazers vs Lakers 8/20/20 (-5.5, 226.5)
The Bucks lost their first game as the one seed. Then the Lakers lost their first game as a one seed. That hasn’t happened in quite some time. The crazy thing is that the last time this happened, both one seeds ended up winning their series anyway. The Blazers are not an eight seed. They’ve brought in Carmelo Anthony and returned Jusef Nurkic (along with Zach Collins, although he’s not playing currently). Lillard is one of the best offensive players in the game today and has been incredible to watch. The Lakers are not shooting well, and Anthony Davis, along with LeBron James, has struggled at the free throw line to make matters worse. The Lakers are going to be in a seven-game dog fight. This is going to get serious. James needs better from his teammates. Head coach Frank Vogel also needs to make better decisions as he took Kyle Kuzma out after he helped get the Lakers back into the game and didn’t put Alex Caruso into the lineup in crunch time, instead relying on Kentavious Caldwell-Pope. That was a bad decision. The Lakers will make adjustments though.
Key trends: Over is 7-2 in Lakers last 9 games following a straight up loss.
Early lean: Lakers, Over
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