The playoffs are here, & as usual, we’re being treated to some smashmouth basketball. The UNDER went 5-3-1 this weekend, and we’ve got at least one low-scoring affair lined up for Tuesday’s NBA picks.
Jason’s record as of Apr. 20: 73-73-5 ATS, 10-15 Totals, plus-0.15 units ML
If you hear any whistling while you’re watching Tuesday’s NBA action, better check your doors, because it’s probably not coming from your TV screen. It’s the playoffs, and whenever the games become a bit more meaningful, the on-court officials have been known to let players get away with anything short of vehicular assault. That means fewer foul shots, which means lower-scoring games and more UNDER results.
At least, that’s the way things used to be. After going 125-89-4 (58.4 percent) during the first round in the five years between 2008 and 2012 inclusive, the UNDER stabilized at 22-21-2 in 2013. Then the pendulum swung in the other direction last year, as the OVER went 32-18 during the first round. Will things return to normal this year? The UNDER is already 5-3-1 after this weekend’s action, so let’s add at least one potential low-scoring matchup to Tuesday’s NBA picks and see what happens.
Washington Wizards vs. Toronto Raptors (8:00 p.m. ET, NBA-TV)
This would be the game in question. The Wizards and Raptors needed overtime to decide Game 1 on Saturday, and they still cashed in the UNDER when Washington won 93-86 (UNDER 194.5). The NBA odds have already adjusted; as we go to press, the total for Game 2 has shrunk to 191.5 points, although that’s up from 190.5 at the open. Our early consensus reports show 100 percent support for the OVER – typical behavior from the betting public.
There’s some logic to betting the OVER in this situation. Aside from the lower total, it’s unlikely the two teams will shoot as poorly this Tuesday night as they did in the series opener. Washington was just 39.4 percent from the field and 28.6 percent from long distance; Toronto was even worse at 38.0 percent overall and 20.7 percent from behind the arc.
We’re taking things in the other direction, though. Based on the way the Raptors played in Game 1, we expect them – somewhat – to unleash premium defender James Johnson (17.9 PER, plus-2.0 DBPM) in Game 2 after he played zero minutes in Saturday’s opener. Johnson might be the only Raptor capable of stopping Paul Pierce (15.2 PER) from shredding Toronto. Pierce scored 20 points in Game 1 on 7-of-10 shooting.
Free NBA Pick: Take the UNDER
Dallas Mavericks vs. Houston Rockets (9:30 p.m. ET, TNT)
We hemmed and hawed about this one for a while, but a straw poll here at the home office indicates a preference for the UNDER. Yes, the Rockets have the OVER at 6-1 in their past seven games, and the OVER cashed in on Saturday when Houston rolled to a 118-108 victory (OVER 212.5) in a fast-paced matchup. Seven players on each team scored in double figures.
Nice, but the basketball odds for Game 2 have changed. The total for Tuesday’s tilt has been inflated to 215 points, and there’s a good chance the Mavericks will be without two of their top offensive players. Both Chandler Parsons (16.3 PER, plus-2.7 OBPM) and Devin Harris (14.8 PER, plus-1.9 OBPM) are listed as questionable after missing Monday’s practice.
We also don’t expect Rajon Rondo (12.4 PER, minus-1.5 OBPM) to repeat his Game 1 performance, where he briefly found his groove and scored 11 second-quarter points, finishing the day with 15 points on 7-of-16 form the floor. Rondo was the worst shooter of all the Dallas regulars this year, posting a true shooting percentage of .460. We also wouldn’t be surprised to see some more Hack-a-Shaq nonsense in Tuesday’s game, with Houston’s Dwight Howard (52.8 percent) and back-up center Clint Capela (17.4 percent) the most likely targets. This line movement and player adjustments makes worth taking the Under for our NBA pick this Tuesday.
Free NBA Pick: Take the UNDER