The defending champion Golden State Warriors are still on track to repeat, advancing to the Western Conference semifinals after knocking out the Spurs for the second straight year. While the Dubs were expected to make a deep playoff run as the favorite to win their third O’Brien Trophy in four years, the New Orleans Pelicans were the only team to sweep their first-round series, bouncing the Trail Blazers in an upset. The two will get the second round started on Saturday night.
And there’s nothing like a Game 7 where anything can happen in a winner-take-all situation. The Boston Celtics earned the right to host that game by posting 52 wins during the regular season, but their hopes of a title took a big hit when Kyrie Irving was ruled out with an achy knee. In order to advance to the second round for the first time since 2001, the upstart Bucks and Giannis Antetokounmpo will have to win in the Garden.
Milwaukee Bucks vs Boston Celtics – Game 7
Date and Time: Saturday, April 28, 2018, 8 p.m. ET
Location: TD Garden, Boston, MA
Opening NBA Game Odds: (Click Here)
Bucks vs Celtics TV Coverage: TNT
Antetokounmpo showed how dominant he can be with a stellar Game 6 performance, scoring 20 of his 31 points in the second half to extend Milwaukee’s season. After taking just 10 shots and scoring 16 points in Game 5, the Freak vowed to be more aggressive, and with the season on the brink, he came through. Antetokounmpo got some help from Khris Middleton and Malcolm Brogdon, who each scored 16 points. And the defensive effort was inspirational, holding the Celtics to their lowest point total of the series.
Homecourt advantage means more in the NBA than any other sport and the Celtics will host Game 7 having won the first three of the series on the parquet floor. There’s something about a Game 7 in Boston that makes opponents just a little uneasy. Maybe it’s the success the Cs have had and the presence of the lucky leprechaun. Boston still has to make shots and score points, something they struggled to do in the last two games. But look for veteran Al Horford to lead the otherwise inexperienced Celtics.
The Bucks have turned the tables on the Celtics with their defensive intensity in the series, holding Boston to 42.7 percent shooting from the field while allowing an average of just over 100 points per game. Milwaukee had a sparkling effort in Game 6 to extend the series, allowing the Cs just 37 percent accuracy from the field while holding Boston to a series low point total. Scoring hasn’t been easy for the Bucks, so defense will be key. In the last two games, the Bucks limited the Celtics to 39.3 percent shooting overall and 29.8 percent from behind the arc.
Bucks vs Celtics Free Picks
The Celtics worked hard during the regular season for this reason. Now that it’s here, playing Game 7 on the parquet floor will be worth a few points. Still, Boston needs to find its shooting touch that’s been absent the last two games. Antetokounmpo is the best player in the series and he could deliver the Bucks an upset victory. But the mystique of the Celtics at home in Game 7 is something that’s difficult to overcome, and the young Bucks will succumb to the pressure, and the play of Horford.
Bucks vs Celtics ATS Pick: Celtics
Bucks vs Celtics Score Prediction: Celtics 103, Bucks 98
New Orleans Pelicans vs Golden State Warriors – Game 1
Date and Time: Saturday, April 28, 2018, 10:30 p.m. ET
Location: Oracle Arena, Oakland, CA
Opening NBA Game Odds: (Click Here)
Pelicans vs Warriors TV Coverage: TNT
The Pelicans stunned just about everyone with their first-round sweep of the Blazers and they are a confident group heading into their series with the defending champs. New Orleans has won nine straight games heading into Saturday’s tilt, including a big win on the road against the Warriors. Anthony Davis has been a huge reason for the Pels success, but the team has gotten brilliant play from Jrue Holiday, Rajon Rondo and Nikola Mirotic during their playoff run. Davis is averaging 33 points in the postseason and the Pels are the playoff leaders in points per game with 114.5.
Stephen Curry is nearing a return and the Warriors will be whole for the first time in a while. The two-time MVP returned to practice this week and he’s likely to make his playoff debut in this series, which will make the Pelicans’ chances of advancing past the second round more difficult. The Dubs squeaked by the Spurs in the first round by playing stifling defense. Of course the Spurs aren’t the most opportunistic team on the offensive end and holding the Pelicans to fewer than 100 points isn’t going to be easy. But the Dubs are itching to run after their slow-paced series with the Spurs, and the Pels will oblige.
The Pelicans had lost 14 straight games to the Warriors, including a sweep in the 2015 playoffs, before ending the slide with a 126-120 win in Oracle earlier this month. It was the third victory in the Pels current nine-game streak and the usual suspects did the damage. Davis scored 34 points with 12 boards, Mirotic hit 6 of 11 threes for 28 points and Holiday scored 25 as the Pels shot a blistering 56.3 percent from field. And they did it against the Warriors top group, minus Curry, who had all returned from their various injuries by that point in the season.
Pelicans vs Warriors Free Picks
Davis is just the player the Warriors don’t want to face. He can dominate down low, take his game to the perimeter and he makes his teammates better. The Dubs struggled to contain LaMarcus Aldridge in the previous series, and he was the only offensive weapon the Spurs had. A.D. will work in the paint, Rondo will work outside of it and the offense could be problematic for the Warriors. New Orleans is playing with a lot of confidence after knocking off the Blazers, and they’ll continue with a Game 1 upset.
Pelicans vs Warriors ATS Pick: Pelicans
Pelicans vs Warriors Score Prediction: Pelicans 118, Warriors 115
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