Four teams, two spots, one awesome night of basketball.
The Atlanta Hawks faced the Cavaliers in Cleveland for the No. 8 seed in the East and the Los Angeles Clippers faced the New Orleans Pelicans at Cryto.com Arena, without the services of their star Paul George.
Our NBA experts are looking at one spread bet and one player prop in tonight’s matchup. Check out their best bets for Friday’s elimination games.
NBA Odds & Picks
Atlanta Hawks vs. Cleveland Cavaliers
Austin Wang: Money and action all seem to be favoring the Hawks in this matchup, but I am going to be backing the Cavaliers here. The home-away splits greatly favor the Cavaliers and they have a chance of getting Allen back into the lineup. The Hawks are dealing with a myriad of injuries on their own.
Without Collins to deal with, expect Mobley (and potentially Allen) to be able to help on Young and their other scorers.
I think this narrative is consistent with theme all season long. The Cleveland Cavaliers have been criminally underrated and the Hawks are continually put on a pedestal. This is no different here.
The Cavaliers have the home-court, injury and rest advantage. The value is on the Cavs here — bet them at the spread and don’t be afraid to add some on the moneyline.
New Orleans Pelicans vs. Los Angeles Clippers
Brandon Anderson: The Pelicans have a few intriguing advantages in this matchup, and the biggest is almost certainly on the glass. New Orleans mashes the offensive glass. The Pels are one of the league’s best offensive rebounding teams, while the Clippers rank dead last on the defensive glass.
New Orleans had 58 offensive rebounds in four games against the Clips, averaging a +12 rebounding edge. That puts LA in a real catch-22. The Clippers love to go small, and that could force mountain man Jonas Valanciunas off the court defensively.
But playing small only gives New Orleans an even bigger rebounding advantage, so it could backfire. But if the Clippers stay big that means more Ivica Zubac, and he’s struggled defensively with the Pelicans intentionally spacing Valanciunas out to the 3-point line to get Zubac away from the rim.
And holy cow is it working. Valanciunas made 57 3s this year – and 12 of them came in two games against the Clippers. He made five in one and three in another, attempting eight and nine 3s, his two highest volume games of the season.
JV hit a 3-pointer in exactly half his games, already in our favor since we get more juice, but this matchup expects more. Outside of a recent blowout loss with limited Valanciunas minutes, he hit 14-of-20 3s in the other three Clippers games with multiple 3s in each.
I initially researched Valanciunas looking to play his rebounding. He had 13, 15, and 16 in those three games, and I do like his rebounding over and alternate overs – but I’d rather play the 3-pointer and don’t want to play both in case his minutes get nerfed.
Want to get wild? Look for some alternate 3-point overs. Remember, Valanciunas has multiple 3s in three of four Clippers games, and the volume has been there. This is a clear, intentional strategy.
You can play two 3s at +600 at Bet365, three-plus at +1700, and four-plus at +4000. That may seem crazy, but he’s done that twice this season against the Clips. Come on, big guy. Let’s see that shooting stroke.
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