The NBA Playoffs Conference Finals continue on Wednesday with Game 2 between the Clippers and the Suns, followed by Thursday’s Game 1 between the Hawks and the Bucks. Catch our best spread and player prop betting tips for both games right here!
NBA Playoffs Betting Tips: Wednesday & Thursday
Los Angeles Clippers at Phoenix Suns
PHX Arena, Wednesday 11am AEST
Game 1 of this unexpected Conference Finals matchup was a ripper in the desert with the Suns eventually coming away with a six-point win. It was see-sawing game from start for the best part of three quarters, but the Suns had too much firepower at home in front of what was a deafening crowd.
The Clippers would obviously be disappointed with their Game 1 loss, but can take plenty of positives out of how they played on the road. As a team, the Clippers shot out a lights-out 43% from deep, led by Paul George (34 points) and Reggie Jackson (24 points). For the Suns, Devin Booker showed us all once again he’s ready for the big stage with a 40-point triple-double, which was the first triple-double of his career to date.
Looking ahead to Game 2 in Phoenix and it’ll be the Suns who start favourites again, this time by 5.5-points at most bookies. That line seems about right in our opinion, so we won’t be playing that market. Instead, we like the look of the total points going under the current line of 224.5. Both teams shot over 40% from three in Game 1 and a combined 23-26 (88%) from the free-throw line, which are the sort of numbers you just can’t expect to maintain in the high-pressure environment of a Conference Finals series. Add in the defensive adjustments both coaches are guaranteed to make after watching film from Monday’s clash and you can make a good case for the current line being at least 5-10 points too high.
One strategy that we found interesting in Game 1 from Clippers coach Tyronn Lue was going small and playing without a centre for important stretches of the game. This opened the door for Suns big man DeAndre Ayton to dominate the paint, which was something he was able to do to a degree with 20 points and nine rebounds, but he should be able to benefit even more in Game 2 after watching tape on the type of coverages they were showing him.
Prop: Ayton O17.5 Points ($2.50)
Atlanta Hawks at Milwaukee Bucks
Fiserv Forum, Thursday 10:30am AEST
The Atlanta Hawks overcame the odds in their second-round series against the Philadelphia 76ers, eventually prevailing in seven games despite the 76ers having home court advantage in both the series and in Game 7. Trae Young had a fantastic series, especially with his ability to get to the free throw line, although it was the unlikely source of points from Kevin Huerter in Game 7 that was crucial to their win.
The Milwaukee Bucks went into their second-round series the Brooklyn Nets as the underdogs due to the superstar power the Nets possess; however, injuries to both James Harden and Kyrie Irving gave the Bucks the opening they needed, which they were able to take advantage of. The Bucks, led by some huge games from Khris Middleton and Giannis Antetokounmpo, ended up taking down the Nets 4-3 after winning the final two games of the series.
The Hawks were fantastic in beating the 76ers last round and are deserving Conference finalists, however, they will enter Game 1 on the road against the Bucks as the big 7.5-point underdogs, which we still think is out of their reach. The Bucks are a perfect 6-0 at home in the playoffs so far and were dominant there in the regular season with a 26-10 record; in contrast, the Hawks struggled on the road in the regular season with 16 wins from 36 games. With this in mind coupled with the fact the Bucks won by 14 points in their only home meeting with the Hawks this season, we’re happy to be with them to cover the spread in Game 1.
Trae Young is clearly the Hawks best player and has been throughout their playoff run to date, however, we expect him to have to work as hard as he’s ever had to work to get buckets in this series. The Bucks have one of the best perimeter defenders in the game in Jrue Holiday who will be glued to Young all season. Young scored just 15 points on worse than 20% shooting against the Bucks last time out and will find it tough in their first meeting in the Conference Finals.
Prop: Young U28.5 Points ($1.92)
Milwaukee Bucks -7.5