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Can the Toronto Raptors win one more game as underdogs and move on to the Eastern Conference finals over the Boston Celtics? Will the Los Angeles Clippers punch their ticket to the next round with a victory over the struggling Denver Nuggets?
Here are the best bets to consider for Friday’s critical two-game slate.
Denver Nuggets vs. Los Angeles Clippers (-8, 217)
During an interview in the second half of Wednesday’s Game 4, Nuggets head coach Mike Malone noted how slow his offense was moving. The Nuggets found themselves in a half-court set far too often, which played right into the Clippers’ defense. Denver wound up shooting just 27-of-68 from the field – an unacceptable performance in a pivotal game.
Down 3-1, what can you expect from an offense that’s coming off an 85-point effort? Hopefully, some more pace and distributed scoring.
The Nuggets prefer to go slow (No. 29 in the league in possessions per game) but they don’t have that luxury right now. L.A. can do whatever it wants against a Nuggets defense that currently owns a rating of 116.9 – by far the worst clip among teams still standing. Denver’s offense can’t afford to take its time if playing from behind.
Things have gotten tight in the second half of this series, so we’ll bank on both offenses coming out firing in the first two quarters.
Pick: 1H Over 109.5
Toronto Raptors vs. Boston Celtics (-2.5, 203.5)
I asked how low was too low for a Celtics-Raptors total after the first five games went under. We now have an answer.
After Game 6 closed at 209.5, the series finale is even lower at a soft 203.5. Boston and Toronto would have cashed the sixth straight under of the second round Wednesday had it not been for double overtime helping over bettors.
The adjustment from 218.5 in Game 1 all the way down to 209.5 in Game 6 was warranted. But it’s difficult to get behind another six-point drop. Both offenses looked completely gassed down the stretch, but they’ll have plenty of time to regroup.
There are plenty of narratives that would point to another low-scoring contest. It’s Game 7, both units were depleted in the late stages Wednesday, and the trends point in that direction.
However, this number’s been stretched out to an ideal buy-low spot on the over. Much like our handicap in the Los Angeles-Denver matchup, we’ll play the first-half total.
Pick: 1H Over 100.5
(Odds source: theScore Bet)
Alex Kolodziej is a betting writer for theScore. He’s a graduate of Eastern Illinois who has been involved in the sports betting industry for 12 years. He can quote every line from “Rounders” and appreciates franchises that regularly wear alternate jerseys. Find him on Twitter @AJKolodziej.