Favorites went 3-1 against the spread on Saturday, and those three victorious favorites from the first day of NBA playoff action will be taking the court tonight looking to go up 2-0 in their respective series.
It’s still too soon to predict which teams will ultimately advance to the next round, but Utah, Golden State, and Philadelphia all have a little extra breathing room after taking care of business in Game 1. With the Mavericks, Raptors and Nuggets looking to even the slate at 1-1, let’s break down all three matchups on tonight’s schedule.
Toronto Raptors at Philadelphia 76ers
Best Bet: Sixers -6.5 / -115 (BetMGM)
It’s fair to say that the Sixers will be hard pressed to duplicate their performance from Game 1 as they aim to take a 2-0 series lead over the Raptors. Tyrese Maxey was electric on Saturday, pouring in 38 points as Philadelphia cruised to a 131-111 victory.
That said, the Sixers’ two biggest stars – Joel Embiid and James Harden – combined to shoot just 11-for-32 from the field two nights ago. Both players will likely have better performances in Game 2, so look for Philadelphia – 21-11 straight up as a home favorite this season – to continue to hold serve this evening at the Wells Fargo Center.
The biggest X-factor in tonight’s game is the health of Toronto forward Scottie Barnes, who put up an impressive 15/10/8 line in his playoff debut before leaving with a foot injury. Initial x-rays showed no evidence of a fracture, but with rumors of Barnes being sidelined for Game 2, the already-undersized Raptors will have a difficult time slowing down Embiid and the rest of the Sixers’ offensive attack.
Utah Jazz at Dallas Mavericks
Best Bet: Mavericks +5.5 / -110 (BetMGM)
Dallas absolutely can’t afford to drop both games in their home arena, and they wouldn’t be in position to do so if they didn’t shoot an abysmal 38.2 percent from the field on Saturday afternoon. Despite the poor performance, losing by a mere six points is a clear sign that the Mavericks can hang with the Jazz even without Luka Doncic (currently listed as doubtful with a lingering calf injury) in the lineup.
Utah racked up 49 wins this season, but were just 14-19 against the spread as a road favorite. On the other side of the ledger, in games following a loss this season, Dallas is an impressive 22-8 ATS and 21-9 straight up. The Mavericks had just a single two-game losing streak following the All-Star break, and that was in the midst of a stretch in which they went 13-4. A better shooting night for Dallas paired with a repeat of the defense we saw in Game 1 could even up this series at 1-1.
Denver Nuggets at Golden State Warriors
Best Bet: Warriors -6.5 / -110 (BetMGM)
Golden State debuted the latest version of their “death lineup” on Saturday, and even though they only played together for a grand total of five minutes, the quintet of Steph Curry, Klay Thompson, Jordan Poole, Andrew Wiggins, and Draymond Green outscored the Denver Nuggets by 14 points.
Saying that the Warriors have figured the Nuggets out may be a bit of stretch, but Golden State has an ace in the hole that will likely either stop a Denver run, or break the game wide open. That edge should allow them to cover the spread in Game 2, even as Curry continues to re-acclimate himself in Steve Kerr’s rotation.
The Warriors were 30-9 straight up as a home favorite this year, with an average margin of victory of 10.5 points per game. It should also be noted that the majority of those games came without one of their Big Three in the lineup. Now that Curry, Thompson and Green are all back in uniform, the Nuggets – just 12-17 straight up as an underdog this season – will have their work cut out for them on Monday night.