Eastern Conference Semifinals Game 1: Wizards Get Early Action

Washington Wizards players

Jason Lake

Sunday, April 30, 2017 12:26 PM GMT

The Washington Wizards are 4.5-point road dogs for Game 1 of their second-round series with the Boston Celtics. Those are tight NBA odds, but the Wiz are getting early support.

They didn’t have Ian Mahinmi Friday night, but they didn’t need him. The Washington Wizards stomped the Atlanta Hawks 115-99 as 3-point road dogs, winning their first-round series 4-2; Mahinmi still hasn’t recovered from his strained calf, but Jason Smith was healthy enough to play, and with the Hawks missing their outside shots, there wasn’t much hope for the home side.

Next up for the Wiz: The Boston Celtics, who won four straight games SU and ATS over the Chicago Bulls after Rajon Rondo broke his thumb in Game 2. At press time, the Celtics are 4.5-point home faves on the NBA odds board for Sunday’s opener (1:00 p.m. ET, ABC); our early consensus reports show heavy support for Washington, especially on the moneyline at +170. Shall we join the bandwagon?
 

Smashmouth Basketball


Boston was definitely having trouble with the Bulls before Rondo’s injury, so they might be worth fading in this series. We don’t want to harp for too long about Mahinmi’s absence since he’s not as important to the Wizards as Rondo was to Chicago. But Washington could still use his services on Sunday.

Sadly, there are more important things going on with Boston’s point guard. Isaiah Thomas is officially questionable for Game 1; he’s expected to play after attending his sister’s funeral Saturday in his native Washington state, but head coach Brad Stevens says it’s fine if Thomas has to sit out.
 

2nd round of NBA playoffs: Celtics vs Wizards. The rivalry that most of the sports world hasn't realized is a rivalry yet.

— Bill Burr (@billburr) April 29, 2017


Otherwise, the math says it’s a toss-up which team belongs in our NBA picks. FiveThirtyEight has this bad boy pegged at Boston –4.5 using Elo-based stats. We could look at that rather large 214.5-point total instead, or we could follow the early (and presumably sharp) action in Washington. There’s also quite a bit of support for the UNDER, and these two teams don’t have much love for each other, so let’s run with that option. Expect a nasty, punishing game from both sides on Sunday, and may the sphere be with you.