Tuesday night’s NBA playoff schedule features two critical Game 2s.
The road team drew first blood in both the Bucks–Celtics and Warriors–Grizzlies series, so another win tonight for Milwaukee and Golden State would put each team in a phenomenal position to advance to the conference finals.
However, Boston and Memphis defend home court well and are the higher seeds for a reason. Bucks-Celtics tips off in the early slot and Warriors-Grizzlies is the nightcap.
Regular-season record: 117-113-2
Play-in/playoffs record: 41-36
Time: 7 p.m. ET | TNT
Spread: Bucks +4.5 (-110) | Celtics -4.5 (-110)
Moneyline: Bucks (+155) | Celtics (-188)
Total: Under 215.5 (-110) | Over 215.5 (-110)
The Bucks went into Boston on Sunday and stifled the surging Celtics. In their first-round sweep against the Nets, the C’s averaged 113.5 PPG; Milwaukee’s defense held them more than 20 points below that mark in a 101-89 win.
Defensively, Boston held up. The Bucks were held under their first-round average as well, but the Celtics were an utter mess on offense. The team shot 33% from the field, 36% from three (on a whopping 50 attempts) and turned the ball over 18 times. Seven of those giveaways belonged to Jaylen Brown, who finished with 12 points on 4-13 shooting. After getting 20-plus points on occasion from Al Horford and Marcus Smart in Round 1, the Celtics barely even received that production from Jayson Tatum. He had his hands full with Giannis Antetokounmpo on defense.
Milwaukee’s Game 1 win came with Khris Middleton (knee) sidelined. Perhaps the scariest thought for Boston beyond the fact that a shorthanded team marched into TD Garden and bullied them is that the Bucks easily could have played better.
Antetokounmpo (25 points, 13 rebounds, 12 assists) filled up the box score, though he had an inefficient shooting night (9-25 from the field, 6-11 from the free-throw line). Milwaukee shot a little more than 41% from the field and 35% from three. It wasn’t a world-beating performance, but the combination of lockdown defense from Jrue Holiday and the size advantage afforded by a frontcourt of Antetokounmpo, Bobby Portis and Brook Lopez allowed the Bucks to roll.
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I’m expecting a bounceback game from Boston. At the same time, Milwaukee has room for improvement too. A scenario where the Bucks win comfortably again seems more likely than a Celtics blowout, so I’ll take the insurance points in the event that the C’s score a close win. If they do, that’ll be because Tatum and Brown step up. The improvements Boston must make are on offense, not defense. I see better shooting nights coming for both teams, so I like the over on this modest total as well.
BETS: Bucks +4.5 (-110); Over 215.5 (-110); Giannis Antetokounmpo Over 30.5 Points (-102); Giannis Antetokounmpo Over 6.5 Assists (-115)
Time: 9:30 p.m. ET | TNT
Spread: Warriors -1.5 (-110) | Grizzlies +1.5 (-110)
Moneyline: Warriors (-133) | Grizzlies (+110)
Total: Under 227.5 (-110) | Over 227.5 (-110)
Losing Game 1 felt like a blown opportunity for the Grizzlies. They got an all-time game out of Jaren Jackson Jr. and had a phenomenal three-point shooting performance and still lost at home, 117-116.
Conversely, the Warriors truly stole the opening game. They survived Draymond Green’s early ejection and a poor shooting game for Klay Thompson.
Jordan Poole was the hero for Golden State. He finished with 31 points, eight rebounds and nine assists off the bench. Now Green returns to the lineup for Game 2 with the Grizzlies, who lost 11 regular season games at home all year, trying to avoid dropping both games in Memphis.
The Grizzlies needed every one of Jackson’s 33 points given how their second- and third-leading scorers performed. Desmond Bane and Dillon Brooks combined for 17 points on 6-23 shooting. That’s after Bane averaged 23.5 PPG in Round 1 on 46%, high-volume three-point shooting. Bane (back) is listed as questionable for Game 2 and Memphis needs his production and defense on the other end.
Ja Morant had another near-triple double and 34 points and e even connected on a playoff-high four three pointers. Coach Taylor Jenkins can expect a repeat performance from his All-Star point guard but Jackson hasn’t shown he can come close to his Game 1 level with any consistency—it’s on Brooks and Bane to step up.
Golden State surprisingly outrebounded a bigger Memphis team in the first meeting. Even more shocking, the Warriors were outshot by the Grizzlies from three. Steph Curry and Poole each buried five threes, but Curry and Thompson combined to shoot just 14-39 from the field. Better games are coming for Thompson and even Curry, who finished with a modest 24 points and four assists.
I still like the Grizzlies in this game. They know they can’t afford to go down 0-2 to a team as good as Golden State. Marginally better play out of Bane and Brooks will result in a win, and I think Memphis gets just that. Jackson being able to stay on the floor against the Warriors, who don’t have any offensive-minded big men for him to contend with, was huge in Game 1. If he can simply stay out of foul trouble, nail a few threes and contribute as a rebounder, I like Memphis’ chances of evening things up.
BET: Grizzlies +1.5 (-110); Over 227.5 (-110); Desmond Bane Over 18.5 Points (-104); Ja Morant Over 7.5 Rebounds (-124)
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