Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Chicago Bulls 4/25

Cleveland Cavaliers -5.5

The Cavaliers and mighty Lebron faltered in game three, but can the Bulls win two in a row? If Chicago was able to pull of consecutive wins in this series, it would be absolutely amazing. Despite a decent showing in game two and a phenomenal performance in game three, the Bulls are still outclassed. The Cavs demonstrated just how many weapons they had when they pulled the game to within 2 points in game three. It seemed like Chicago had the game in the bag with a 20+ point lead, but Lebron and company proved otherwise. For a few minutes, it seemed to be a near certainty that the Cavs would take over the game an ultimately win. It took Cleveland a bit too long to stage a comeback, however, and they fell shorts. Give the Cavaliers credit, though, as no one thought they had a shot after falling into a massive hole after half time.

Lebron is the key to the Cavaliers success, everyone knows that, but it is becoming quite apparent that the Bulls are nothing without Derrick Rose. This might be pushing it a bit, as Joakim Noah, Luol Deng, and others have really stepped up their efforts in the past two games. The problem is that they are going to need another perfect performance if they want to win game four. This is just too much to ask of anyone, especially a relatively inexperienced playoff squad like the one that Vinny Del Negro is working with. Is it possible that the Bulls get another win in game four? Yes. Is it likely? Absolutely not. Lebron wants to wrap this series up, he was probably frustrated with just one loss, and he surely doesn’t want to add another to his playoff resume.

The swings in the betting lines for this series have been incredible. The Bulls went from heavy 11+ point dogs in game one, to 10 point dogs in game two, and then ultimately were slight underdogs in game three. For game four, the spread has come a bit back to life, with the Cleveland Cavaliers sitting at -5.5. The Bulls moneyline is your best bet if you feel confident in Chicago’s ability to win another game at home. At +220, it is a great investment that is much better than the line available in game three. The Cavs, however, are still the best bet here. Cleveland should earn another win in game four so long as they avoid any scoring droughts like the ones that put them in a hole in game three.

Boston Celtics vs. Miami Heat 4/25

Miami Heat -1.5

The Celtics vs. Heat series looked to be the most unlikely series to finish in four games. Three games in, however, Boston has a 3-0 series lead. With a win on Sunday, Boston is going to be the first team to advance to round two of the playoffs. They played a lot of close games with the Heat, but managed to escape with wins in each one. Game three went down to a buzzer beater, and game one required a big comeback. Game two was not even close, with Boston completely destroying Miami. Miami does not want to walk away from this series without a win, even if they have little shot of coming back in this series. Game four is a battle for pride, and Miami has home court advantage to aid them in their mission.

Michael Beasley, for the most part, has underperformed in this series. The Heat needed him to step up if they wanted a legitimate shot at winning this series. Dwyane Wade, on the other hand, has been phenomenal. Wade doesn’t seem to have an off game. When he isn’t scoring, he is creating opportunities for his teammates. There isn’t much more that a coach or fan (or bettor) can ask from Dwyane Wade. If Miami’s role players show up on Sunday, they can make this series 3-1. Boston is either going to play hard and try to wrap up the series early, or they will be relaxed and let Miami steal a win. Miami has to want this game more than Boston, but the question is whether they can match Boston’s talent.

The money line is worth a look in this game if you can find it, but it is off at most sportsbooks. Betting on Miami is the optimal play in this game, especially when you consider that they are going to be out 4-0 if they lose. This would not only be a disappointment for Miami, but also an embarrassment. If they want to salvage anything from this series and give themselves a small bit of hope), Miami needs to get a win in game four. They have home court advantage, they have Dwyane Wade, now they just need to put it together for a full four quarters.

Los Angeles Lakers vs. Oklahoma City OKC Thunder 4/24

Los Angeles Lakers vs. Oklahoma City Thunder (Under 194)

Game three was a bit of a shocker, thought it wasn’t a major surprise. It wouldn’t be very fair to say that the Thunder were a big underdog in game three. They made game two very interesting, and this series could easily be 2-1 in favor of the Thunder. This is why game four is so tough to bet. It is perhaps the trickiest game of the playoffs, and it is tough to pick a winner. Oklahoma City clearly received a big boost when they were able to move back home, perhaps even more than anyone could have expected. It was very loud in OKC and the Lakers stumbled towards the end. Veteran leadership could be enough for the Lakers to regain control in game four, but Kevin Durant would love nothing more than to tie this game up at 2-2.

There are some interesting aspects to this Lakers vs. Thunder match up. One on hand, there is Kevin Durant, a young player looking to make his mark in the NBA playoffs. On the other hand, there is Kobe Bryant, a constant force in the NBA who has won it all many times before. Which one do you want to put your faith in? Perhaps the difference between these two teams is not their superstars, but the supporting cast that keeps them going. Kobe and the Lakers have the edge in this regard, with veterans to fill any role. The Thunder (and their fans) were extremely happy with one win in this series, and that is an accomplishment in itself, but it might be all they get.

As mentioned previously, betting on a winner in this game is quite a task. The Lakers are the best pick if you are looking to bet on the spread (or moneyline where available), but 1.5 points were trimmed off of game three’s line. At +3.5, the Lakers would be a great pick in game four, but at +2, it is just too close. Los Angeles could blow out the Thunder, but there it is almost as likely that Oklahoma City keeps it interesting. The Lakers got off to a hot start in game three only to squander their lead, so we know the Thunder can win. The under is the best bet in this game so long as both teams don’t catch on fire for the entirety of the contest.

Atlanta Hawks vs. Milwaukee Bucks 4/24

Atlanta Hawks +1

While this is the best chance for the Bucks to land a win in this series, the Hawks are still the dominant team. A game is always worth a look when the line drops close to 10 total points. The only difference between game one and game three is the court. Milwaukee’s arena is going to be packed, there is no doubt about it, but the fans can’t bring back Andrew Bogut or Michael Redd. This is the biggest problem for the Bucks, the absence of their superstars. While Redd has been out for quite awhile, Bogut was lost somewhat recently. His teammates still need to adjust to life without the big man.

The Hawks were a big favorite in game one, and they were still pretty big favorites in game two. By game three on Saturday, however, they have been reduced to 1 point dogs. This is the time for the Hawks to all but lock up this series. If they can win game three, it gives them a 3-0 lead an makes it all but impossible for the Bucks to stage a comeback. The Hawks know this, and they are going to be playing as hard as they can. The Bucks are at home and are going to have the adrenaline running, but it might not be enough for a win.

The moneyline is not even an option in this game as it is off. The over/under can be confusing in this game with the shift to Milwaukee. Game four is a better game to pick when betting the over/under. The Hawks are certainly the best team in this match up. The question is really whether home court advantage is going to play a major role. It has been a big factor in the other series as they changed courts, and it is likely that it will make an impact in this game as well. Take the Hawks and rest assured knowing that Atlanta is the best team in this battle. Even if they manage to lose, a one point loss is a push, and a loss is likely to be close.

Phoenix Suns vs. Portland Trail Blazers 4/24

Phoenix Suns -1.5

The Suns put a beating on the Trail Blazers in game three. We told bettors to take the Suns in game three when they were even money. In fact, we said it was one of the easiest bets in the entire playoffs. Game four is no different. The Trail Blazers may have won a game in this series, but don’t let that confuse you. The Suns are a much better team than the Blazers. Portland just can’t run with Phoenix, even if it might seem like it on the outset. If you watch these games, it is blatantly obvious that Phoenix is the better team. Whether it be the veteran leadership or the actual talent, Phoenix has Portland crushed in every dynamic imaginable.

It really is fascinating that the Trail Blazers are only being given 1.5 points in this game. If Portland didn’t win a game this series, it is a near certainty that this spread would be closer to 4 or 5, at the very least. Yes, the Trail Blazers are at home, but they demonstrated in game three that home court advantage wasn’t much of a boost. There are certain teams where home court advantage is huge, Boston for example, and then there are teams like Portland where it is largely irrelevant. Far too much credit is given to the Blazers in this game, that much is certain. The Trail Blazers could win this game, it is not an impossibility, but it is far from likely.

There are a few areas to consider in this game. The moneyline is off in most sportsbooks, so that bet is out of the question. If you can manage to snap it up at a better price than the 1.5 point spread, take it in a heartbeat. The over/under is very touchy in this game, primarily because of the volatility of the Trail Blazers. Take the Suns at -1.5 and look for a relatively easy win.

Orlando Magic vs. Charlotte Bobcats 4/24

Orlando Magic -2

The Orlando Magic have been dominant in their opening series against the Charlotte Bobcats. Give the Bobcats credit, however, because many didn’t even expect them to be here. These two teams have very different missions in these games. While Orlando wants to win after their Finals loss in 2009, the Bobcats realize they are here for the experience. There is not much hope for the Bobcats in this series, as they are already down 2-0. In all likelihood, the Bobcats are either going to win one game or get swept. Either way, there are still a few games left to be played. Bettors might think that the Bobcats are due for a win Saturday, like they did with the Bulls in game three, but the Magic are still a much better team.

The Magic have secured 9 point and 15 point wins against the Bobcats in their first two match ups. On Saturday, the spread has dwindled to just 2 points in favor of the Magic. Considering the prior games, the Magic would be a very easy pick. When you take a look at how the other teams have played after moving back to their home court, however, it becomes obvious that home court is indeed very important. Nonetheless, the Orlando Magic are a much better team than Charlotte Bobcats. This is one of the bigger mismatches in the 2010 playoffs.

The best line is this game is quite clear. At only -2 points, the Magic should have little problem covering. If the line was closer to -6, it would be fairly easy to pass on the Magic. Home court advantage is definitely going to play a role, but the questions is whether it is going to be enough for the Bobcats to stay competitive. The Magic have veterans, a will to win, and an edge in every aspect imaginable, this should be a relatively easy cover for Orlando.

Denver Nuggets vs. Utah Jazz 4/23

Denver Nuggets +2.5

Yes, this game is being played in Utah, and yes the Nuggets did struggle in game two. What a lot of bettors are forgetting, however, is that Denver was able to stage a very impressive comeback in game two. They showed poise and that they knew how to win in the face of adversity. Well, maybe they didn’t show that they know how to win, since they lost, but they made it close. Most people counted Denver out after the first half, but they kept fighting back and eventually they were right back in it. A lot of teams would have given up after facing such a large deficit, but not the Nuggets. This team needs to be given some extra points for their determination, and maybe Utah’s value should be reduced a bit after blowing such a large lead.

Game two was interesting and the Jazz were able to barely escape with a win. Game one, however, was solidly in favor of the Nuggets. If the Nuggets could have avoided a slow start in game two, this series could easily be 2-0. Instead, we sit at 1-1 before the tiebreaker on Friday night. Both teams head to Salt Lake, the first game of the series to be played outside of Denver. How will this effect the teams? Utah’s home court is known the exciting atmosphere. Its fans have watched playoff battles since the days of Malone and Jordan. It should be loud, but Denver’s veteran leadership can handle it. Home court is always an advantage, but it might be lost on players like Carmelo Anthony and Chauncey Billups.

The best bet in this game is the Denver Nuggets against the spread. Being given 2.5 points is great for any Denver bettors, as they have a good chance to win this game. Even if it comes down to the wire and Utah manages to win another close game, there is a shot that 2.5 will be enough for a win. The moneyline shouldn’t be given too much consideration in this game, particularly if you are betting on the Nuggets. Denver should be able to win this game barring another slow start, and this is a relatively safe bet.

Dallas Mavericks vs. San Antonio Spurs 4/23

San Antonio Spurs -3.5

The Spurs and Mavericks are tied up at one game a piece, but this series has been dominated by the Spurs. While Dallas earned home court advantage, the Spurs were able to keep both games close. San Antonio coasted to an easy win in game two with a final score of 102-88, and their loss in game one was only by a few points, 94-100. Now the Spurs get to head back home with a chance to take a 2-1 series lead. The Mavericks are going to have a tough time keeping the ageless Spurs at bay, and they are lucky that the series is tied up heading into game three. If Dallas loses this game, the odds are that they are out in round one. They will only be down 2-1 if they lose the game, but with the way they have been playing, 2-1 might as well be the series.

Tim Duncan, Tony Parker, and Manu Ginobili have been winning for years. No matter what obstacles they are faced with, they somehow come up with a win. 2010 was another great year for San Antonio, and you know that Duncan wants to add another ring to his collection. He is one of the biggest warriors in the NBA, and he does not want to let this series slip away. This team has a lot of heart, and it has to make any bettor feel a bit more comfortable.

There are many different angles in this game which should be considered. The over/under is interesting to consider, but it is lined up pretty much where it should be. The moneyline seems weighted a bit too much towards the Spurs, but not enough credit is being given to the Mavericks. The best play in this game is definitely the spread at -3.5 for the Spurs. They are heading home with a win under their belt and have veteran leadership. San Antonio has to know that they have the edge in this series. Betting on the Spurs is the best way to go in game three.

Boston Celtics vs. Miami Heat 4/23

Boston Celtics vs. Miami Heat (Over 182)

This series has been very interesting, to say the least. Miami should have won game won, but they managed to blow a sizable lead. Game two, however, was never even close. Boston dominated almost the entire game en route to an easy win. Points are going to be scored in this game, as the Heat are going to need to push it up and down the court to stay in the game. Wade can burn anyone and he loves to keep games fast paced. Michael Beasley needs to step up for the Heat, though, because Wade can’t win games all on his own.

This game is very tough to bet on either the spread or the moneyline. Miami has home court advantage for the first time in this opening round, but Miami shouldn’t be rocking like it was in the Boston Garden. It would not be surprising if Miami got crushed on Friday, but it also wouldn’t be a major shocker if the Heat kept it close the entire time. At the outset, this series looked like the most unlikely to go four and out, but now, it is very possible. If you are really tempted to bet on a winner here, take the Celtics moneyline, but it isn’t highly recommended.

The over/under should be relatively easy to cover in this game. Game two of this series hit 183 points, and that was a game where one team outscored the other by 30 points. If Miami can stay within shouting distance, there is no reason that the total couldn’t hit 200. It isn’t likely that the score gets this high, but it is far from impossible. If you look at game one, you are going to see that the total was only 161, but Miami really fizzled out and Boston got off to a slow start. If both teams can stay consistent in game three, this one should eclipse 182 with relative ease. This is the key, neither team getting off to slow starts or finishes.

Los Angeles Dodgers vs. Cincinnati Reds 4/22

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Cincinnati Reds -110 (Click Here for Best Line)

Vicente Padilla may not have done too poorly in his most recent outing against the San Francisco Giants, but he didn’t exactly impress either. He was on the brink of some major disasters, and barely escaped without completely blowing the game. His career is on a massive downslide, and bettors should be jumping on any opportunity to bet against him. Last time, Padilla faced the shaky and unreliable Todd Wellemeyer. On Thursday, however, Padilla needs to contend with the young Mike Leake. 2010 was the first year for Leake in the bigs, and he has impressed. In two games, Leake has maintained a 2.63 ERA. He looks to have secured a spot in the Cincinnati Reds rotation.

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Vicente Padilla has an ERA that tops 8. A few more hits in his last game and that number would be very inflated. It is deceptive to say the least, and that is not in a good way. Padilla has consistent issues when he takes the mound. It really is a surprise that he has been able to hold his spot in the rotation. In addition to his poor stats in 2010, Padilla has a career ERA of 4.26 against the Reds. Now, 4.26 isn’t “bad,” but it certainly isn’t good. He had traditionally dominated the Giants, his last opponent, but even then it was perfectly fine to bet against him. This game is not so much about the hitters, but whether Leake can stay on pace and if Padilla will continue to struggle.

Betting on Padilla’s team is never a good idea, even if he does have a lot of big hitters to back him up. At only -110 on the moneyline, the Cincinnati Reds leave a lot of room for profitability. The Dodgers hitters are unfamiliar with Mike Leake, and he could very well shut them down. Take the Cincinnati Reds and don’t be surprised if the Reds jump out to a massive lead early on.

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