The NBA Playoffs continues to provide stellar entertainment and competition. Tuesday night gave us another ‘upset’ from Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks and also saw the Los Angeles Lakers even up their series with the Phoenix Suns. Wednesday night may not feature teams with the same type of cache as we saw yesterday, but there are still some highly appealing matchups with multiple angles to attack.
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1. Hawks +2 | -109 at DraftKings Sportsbook
The Atlanta Hawks will be looking to go up 2-0 against the New York Knicks tonight. Both teams had strong seasons, but depending on who you ask, the Knicks and not the Hawks were the bigger surprise. Atlanta is loaded with young talent and added the veteran pieces this offseason to help propel them from a perennial lottery team to a favorite to make the playoffs. New York has Julius Randle and strong coaching but does not have the same level of rotation talent as the Hawks. Atlanta won the opening game of the series, but the percentages suggest that the Knicks are due to win Game 2 thanks to Atlanta having a losing road record and the Knicks being rated as the slightly better team in most models (despite having identical season records and home/road splits).
The opening game of the series was one of the most exciting games of the playoffs, and we could see more of the same tonight from these two Eastern Conference foes. Atlanta looked like the better team for much of Game 1, and with the confidence gained from winning that game now in hand, they will look to avoid having letdowns in the second and third quarters. After what we saw from these two teams, it would not surprise anyone if the Hawks opened as the favorites for this contest. However, the sportsbooks stand to make more if they leave the Knicks as the home favorites, regardless of who actually covers.
With a 49.9 percent chance to win outright, the added cushion the Hawks are afforded makes them the easy value for tonight’s contest. This matchup can really go either way and will likely come down to how hot either team can get from the field. In a game that could come down to the wire once again, the team with the cushion is the value. On a night with no truly appealing matchups, the Knicks and Hawks should put on another thriller.
2. RJ Barrett Over 17.5 Points | -106 at DraftKings Sportsbook
RJ Barrett averaged 17.6 points per game on the season, making the under look like the initial lean, especially when his inconsistency throughout his career is taken into consideration. Barrett actually sees his numbers drop when playing at home, where he has averaged just 16.6 points per game. However, in his three games against Atlanta during the season, he averaged 21 points, a number that stands at 19.25 if we include Game 1. RJ naturally feels more comfortable playing against the younger roster of the Atlanta Hawks and should be able to bounce back tonight alongside Julius Randle. He will see the volume to hit the over, and with two games this season shooting over .500 against them, he will have the confidence to shake off a bad night in his playoff debut.
3. Julius Randle Over 25.5 Points | -121 at DraftKings Sportsbook
Julius Randle will be eager to make his mark in Game 2, which should lead to an explosive first half. While the Hawks have the defense to give him issues in the paint, the expansion of his game to the three-point line makes him one of the more deadly weapons in the league. However, the question here is whether or not Randle will be strong enough from the floor to hit the 25.5 points he is listed at.
Randle averaged just 24.1 points on the season, making the under the initial lean. The case for the under grows when averages as a whole and the fact that he failed to hit 26 points in six of his last 10 contests is taken into consideration. With that said, we have to consider his performances against the Hawks as well. Randle lit up the Hawks this season, scoring at least 28 points in every contest, with two games with 40 or more points. Playoff basketball is a different animal, but Randle has the inside-out game to thrive with the slower pace. He shot just.261 from the field in Game 1 but was still afforded the luxury of taking 23 shots.
With the entire organization knowing that their hopes of any playoff glory rest on this young man’s shoulders, he will get all the volume needed to have a 30 point outing. If he can shake off whatever ailed him in his first playoff game at Madison Square Garden, he should be an easy clear. Tap the over on Randle despite the large number.
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