Free NBA Picks: Friday, May 3, 2019, Opening Line Report and Handicapping
By all accounts, Monty Williams is a wonderful human being and has a terrific basketball mind. However, the current 76ers assistant had a 173-221 record in five years as head coach with New Orleans from 2010-15. So, tell me why the Lakers and Suns and perhaps Sixers are in a tug of war over this guy? There's not some fresh face out there who could do better? Reports are that the Lakers and Suns both have offered Williams their head coaching job and that he's actually leaning toward Phoenix. Which tells you all you need to know about the current state of the Lakers. The Suns do have some intriguing young talent and should add another piece in this year's draft, potentially Zion Williamson or Ja Morant. Williams also could wait to see what happens in Philly. There's talk the franchise could dump Brett Brown if it loses its conference semifinal series to the Raptors and just move Williams into the top seat. Again, he has a 173-221 career record. Think outside the box, people! Here's a look at Friday's two Game 3s in the NBA playoffs. Pretty sure these four head coaches are all safe …
No. 1 Bucks at No. 4 Celtics (-2, 219.5)
ESPN tip at 8 p.m. ET. Tied 1-1, Milwaukee is -195 on the series line and Boston +170. The winner of Game 3 of a best-of-7 NBA playoff series takes the series nearly 75 percent of the time. I do think the winner Friday wins this series. It has been rather boring thus far with Boston blowing out Milwaukee in Game 1 and the Bucks following suit in Game 2. Bucks star Giannis Antetokounmpo struggled in the opener, and Celtics counterpart Kyrie Irving did in Game 2. Irving had arguably the worst playoff game of his stellar career in Tuesday's 123-102 loss, shooting just 4-for-18 for nine points. It was just the second time in 58 career postseason games that Irving had finished with fewer than 10 points and it was the third-worst shooting percentage of his postseason career.
Meanwhile, the Freak struggled in the first half on Tuesday but then started getting to the rim and finished with 29 points and nine rebounds. That you expect. The biggest difference from Game 1 to Game 2 for the Bucks was the improvement of Khris Middleton and Eric Bledsoe. Middleton was 7-for-10 from deep for 28 points, and Bledsoe had 21 points after just six in the opener. It's possible the Bucks get back former Rookie of the Year Malcolm Brogdon for Friday. He has been practicing but not played since mid-March due to a foot injury. That would be huge, even in a limited capacity.
Key trends: The Celtics are 5-0 against the spread in their previous five after allowing at least 100 points in their previous game. The Bucks are 1-6 ATS in their past seven in Boston. The "over/under" is 16-5 in the Bucks' past 21 after a win. It's 6-1 in the Celtics' previous seven after a loss.
Early lean: Celtics and over.
No. 2 Nuggets at No. 3 Trail Blazers (-4, 215.5)
Follows first game on ESPN. Tied 1-1, Portland has become the -150 series favorite with Denver at +130. Bettors were generally all over the Nuggets at -4, on the moneyline and over the total in Game 2 of this series and they took a bath with Portland pulling the 97-90 upset to steal home-court advantage. Very rare that Portland beats a good team with Damian Lillard scoring just 14 points, but CJ McCollum put up 20 with six assists and six rebounds, and the bench came up big with a combined 32 points on 15 percent shooting and 14 rebounds. However, the news isn't all good. Starting forward Moe Harkless didn't play in the second half with a sprained ankle. So he's in question for this one. Jake Layman started in the second half for him, but Layman frankly stinks. Evan Turner in theory would swallow a lot of Harkless' minutes from the bench, but it's possible Turner is suspended for this one. Late in the game, there was a bit of a scrum and Turner left the bench to join in on the court. What might save Turner was that a timeout had been called.
Portland made a concerted effort to be more aggressive defensively on Nikola Jokic in Game 2, especially doubling him in the post. Jokic still did his thing with 16 points, 14 rebounds and seven assists, but you live with the points and assists. Denver's starting backcourt of Jamal Murray and Gary Harris didn't make the Blazers pay on all those Jokic kickouts as they were a combined 10-for-30 shooting and 2-for-13 from deep. In addition, the streaky Murray reaggravated a right thigh injury that kept him out of the final 53 seconds of Game 2. He's also dealing with a shoulder injury. I'm assuming he'll play on Friday. Ditto Torrey Craig, who left Game 2 for a bit after a broken nose. He returned wearing a mask.
Key trends: The Nuggets are 3-7 ATS in their past 10 road games vs. teams with a winning home record. They are 5-2 ATS in their past seven in Portland, though. The over is 7-3 in the previous 10 there.
Blazers and over.
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