Free NBA Picks: Wednesday, May 8, 2019, Opening Line Report and Handicapping
The most fascinating team in the NBA this offseason probably will be the Boston Celtics, and their offseason could start as soon as Wednesday night with a loss in Milwaukee. This team figures to look very different in 2019-20, especially if run out of the playoffs by these Bucks in just five games. Both Kyrie Irving and Al Horford surely will exercise their player options and become free agents. Terry Rozier is a restricted free agent and could get such a big offer that Boston won't be able to match. Marcus Morris is unrestricted. Then you have the whole likelihood that the Celtics make the Pelicans an offer they can't refuse - likely built around Jayson Tatum and/or Jaylen Brown - for Anthony Davis. Here's a look at the two Game 5s on Wednesday.
No. 4 Celtics at No. 1 Bucks (-9, 218)
An 8 p.m. ET tip on TNT with Milwaukee up 3-1 despite losing Game 1 at home - the Bucks haven't lost three consecutive games this season. This writer now believes that Irving will NOT be back with Boston. Entering this season, Irving said he wanted to finish his career in Beantown, but he has been really wavering ever since and there are rumors of discord in the locker room surrounding Irving. Frankly, just read the guy's body language at times. He doesn't seem happy. Irving is going to get a max offer from just about every team in the NBA with the cap space, but Irving hasn't been particularly great in this series. Well, he was in the Game 1 blowout win, but the Celtics have lost the last three (two by double-digits) - it was 113-101 on Monday. Irving got his 23 points but was just 7-for-22 from the field and is 19-for-62 over the past three, which is 31 percent. Those 43 missed field-goal attempts are the most Irving has ever missed over a three-game stretch in the playoffs.
Gordon Hayward has been largely invisible in this series and had only two more points in 27 minutes on Monday than I did. Marcus Smart returned from injury but was 1-for-7 in 15 minutes. Then again, his value is more on defense on hustle plays. Same old story with the Bucks: Giannis Antetokounmpo is freaking ridiculous. He had 39 points, 16 rebounds and four assists on Monday. The Celtics' defense largely kept him out of the paint in Game 1 or at least forced contested shots, but the Freak has done what he has wanted since. Maybe the Celtics need to double him at all times because no other Buck had more than 15 points in Game 4.
Key trends: The Celtics are 4-0 against the spread in their past four following a double-digit home loss. The road team is 5-1 ATS in the past six in this series. The over is 11-4 in the Bucks' past 15.
Early lean: Celtics and over.
No. 4 Rockets at No. 1 Warriors (-6, 219.5)
Follows Celtics-Bucks on TNT with the series tied 2-2. This could be the last NBA game in Oakland for a long time with the Warriors of course moving to San Francisco next season. Could be the last home game with the Dubs for Kevin Durant (likely to leave) and Klay Thompson (will stay if he gets a max offer, reportedly, but would sign with the Clippers if he doesn't). There have been two clear story lines in this highly entertaining series, in which every game has been decided by between 4-6 points: The team that has won the rebounding battle has won all four games (also happen to have been the home team), and Houston is destroying the Warriors behind the three-point arc because Steph Curry and Thompson don't look right. The Rockets are exhausting Curry on the defensive end by running him through screen after screen. Golden State is currently minus-30 from the three-point line in this series.
I watched the entirety of Game 4, which Houston won 112-108. The Rockets deserved to win and they outscored the Warriors by 27 points from behind the arc. That said, Houston doesn't know how to protect a lead because it's so built to shoot three-pointers. The Rockets led by as many as 17 in the second half but then went cold in the fourth quarter from deep - James Harden looked like he had heavy legs - and nearly gave the game away. Both Kevin Durant, fabulous again with 34 points, and Curry missed open three-pointers to tie in the final seconds. Curry was just 4-for-14 from deep and Thompson 1-for-6. This series would be over by now in Houston's favor if Durant was still a member of the Thunder as he's completely carrying the Warriors. He's also playing way too many minutes. This is the fifth time under Steve Kerr that the Warriors are tied or trailing after four games of a playoff series. They won the previous four series.
Key trends: The Rockets are 9-2 ATS in their past 11 following a win. The Warriors are 2-5 ATS in their previous seven after allowing at least 100 points in their previous game. The under is 9-3-1 in the past 13 meetings.
Early lean: Rockets and under.
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