Celtics, Hawks, Jazz set as favorites for Friday’s NBA playoff slate

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The Boston Celtics and Isaiah Thomas fare well as a favorite against the Chicago Bulls, plus they’re fully staffed going into a potential clinching Game 6 on Friday.

The visiting Celtics are listed as two-point betting favorites against the Bulls with a 204-point total for Friday at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. The Celtics are 10-4 straight-up and 9-5 against the spread in their last 14 games against the Bulls where they were favored.

Boston is 3-7 SU and 4-6 ATS over its last 10 road games against the Bulls, but sticking to the present tense, Chicago is compromised in the point-guard matchup with Rajon Rondo (fractured right thumb) almost certain not to play.

The Celtics, who are 7-4 SU and 7-3-1 ATS in road games this season against Central Division teams, have improved their ball movement over the run of the series, showing why they earned the No. 1 seed in the Eastern Conference. That’s enabled Boston to have a three-pronged attack with Thomas, SG Avery Bradley and C Al Horford (who had a game-high nine assists in Game 5).

The Celtics won Game 5 by 11 points even while shooting only 22.5 percent on three-pointers.

The Bulls, who are 7-3 SU and 6-4 ATS in their last 10 home games against the Celtics, will need better three-point shooting than they have had for most of the series. Boston’s defense has made SF Jimmy Butler and PG Dwyane Wade earn everything they get. Chicago, which will start backup Isaiah Canaan in Rondo’s place, has had the edge in rebounding during the series.

The total has gone under in eight of Boston’s last 10 games when it was favored on the road; it has also gone under in nine of Chicago’s last 10 games as a home underdog, according to the OddsShark NBA Database.

Elsewhere, trailing 3-2 in their series the Atlanta Hawks are listed as three-point favorites against the Washington Wizards with a 210-point total. While PG John Wall almost always helps Washington hang around in games, they are just 2-9 SU and 3-8 ATS in their last 11 games as a road underdog. Bradley Beal has also given Washington a big edge in the shooting guard matchup against Atlanta’s Tim Hardaway Jr.

Over the last two seasons, PF Paul Millsap and the Hawks are 11-1 SU and 9-3 ATS in home games in April. With the backcourt leadership from PG Dennis Schroder, Atlanta has a good chance to stay alive.

The total has gone over in six of Washington’s last 10 road games against Atlanta, with one push. The total has gone under in seven of Atlanta’s last 10 games as a home favorite.

And in NBA history, when a series is tied 2-2 the Game 5 winner wins the series 85 percent of the time. The Utah Jazz, who are listed as 5.5-point favorites against the Los Angeles Clippers with a 192.5-point total, could add to that historic trend at home on Friday.

The Clippers aren’t necessarily DOA without Blake Griffin (toe), whose starting spot could be filled by Paul Pierce, as they are 9-8 ATS as a road underdog this season. But PG Chris Paul will probably need an extraordinary night to give the Clippers a chance.

The Jazz, who have C Rudy Gobert closing down the lane, are 9-1 SU and 7-1-2 ATS in their last 10 home games where they were favored by six or fewer points. Utah had six double-figure scorers in Game 5, as veterans Boris Diaw, Joe Johnson and George Hill soothed any jangled nerves in the team’s ranks.

The total has gone over in six of the Clippers’ last eight road games. The total has gone over in seven of the Jazz’s last nine home games.

Markelle Fultz considered lock atop NBA Draft, but intriguing odds abound

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The real challenge in wagering on the NBA draft lies beyond the first two selections.

Washington Huskies point guard Markelle Fultz is now a borderline comical -5000 to be taken first at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com. The trade that the point guard-hungry Philadelphia 76ers swung with the Boston Celtics on Monday to get the No. 1 pick virtually assured Fultz would be the pick.

There’s actually a lower price on the field (+700) than on either UCLA point guard Lonzo Ball (+1200) or Duke small forward Jayson Tatum (+5000).

Speaking of Ball, the line of him being drafted by his hometown Los Angeles Lakers is -260, while there’s a +200 payout if he’s selected by any other team. The Lakers have also signaled their intentions by announcing they’ll trade incumbent point guard D’Angelo Russell. However, some feel Kentucky PG De’Aaron Fox, due to his athleticism and speed, has a higher ceiling.

Speaking of the aptly named Fox, many of the intriguing NBA Draft betting props involve the over/under on what point of the draft certain budding stars will hear their name called at the Barclays Center on Thursday.

The total for Fox  is 4.5. Tatum also has a 4.5 total. The Boston Celtics, who pick third, are set at point guard, but the Phoenix Suns could be looking at one at fourth overall.

One should probably keep an eye on speculation about Frank Ntilikina, whose draft-slot total of 9.5 seems on the high side. The 18-year-old Frenchman is one of the youngest players in this draft class and has the skillset to also play either guard spot. The New York Knicks and Dallas Mavericks, who are in the eighth and ninth slots, are both keen on him, and there’s always the chance of one trading up to get him.

Ntilikina is also a -1400 favorite to be the first international player taken. The total on how many international players will go in the first round is 4.5.

College basketball fans can also carry over their rooting interests by betting on how many players will be taken in the first round. There is a 3.5 total for Duke players taken in the first round. The over pays a generous +145, which would require SG Frank Jackson sneaking into the first round to join Tatum, SG Luke Kennedy and C Harry Giles.

Conversely, the under on the 2.5 total of Oregon Ducks players selected – three players are second-round possibilities – is +220.

The early picks, of course, are mostly comprised of one-and-done talents. There is good value on picking who will be the first college senior taken. Colorado combo guard Derrick White is a slim +185 favorite, with Big 12 rival Wesley Iwundu of Kansas State listed at +210.

Warriors seek 2-0 series lead as double-digit favorite against Spurs

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The Golden State Warriors feasted after Kawhi Leonard was knocked out on Sunday, but they are far from an automatic cover as a huge home-court favorite in the NBA playoffs.

Stephen Curry and the Warriors are listed as 13.5-point favorites against the Spurs with a 208.5-point total at sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark.com for their Game 2 matchup scheduled for Tuesday.

During the Curry era, Golden State is 12-1 straight-up and 4-9 against the spread in 13 playoff games where they were favored by 10 or more points at home. The Warriors are also 1-6 ATS in their last seven home playoff games according to the OddsShark NBA Database.

Not having Leonard (left ankle sprain) leaves a void for San Antonio, but the Spurs are 6-2 ATS without their all-star small forward this season. That includes their series-clinching win against the Houston Rockets in the second round. One can take for granted that a team under Gregg Popovich’s coaching guidance will find a way to adapt.

San Antonio will need to find ways to get PF LaMarcus Aldridge away from Warriors SF Draymond Green on offense, as well make greater use of PF Kyle Anderson. Jonathon Simmons has also proven capable of replacing Leonard’s scoring.

Over 11 games as the underdog this season, the Spurs are 7-4 SU and 8-2-1 ATS.

Job one for Golden State, which is 18-2 SU and 8-10-2 ATS over its last 20 home games, will be slowing down the Spurs after allowing 111 points at home on Sunday. They usually are tough on defense at Oracle Arena, where the total has gone under in 13 of their last 20 home games. Offensively, the absence of Leonard should free up space for PF Kevin Durant, since San Antonio won’t have a matchup for the four-time NBA scoring champion.

That said, the Warriors will need perimeter shooting from their supporting cast, not just Curry and SG Klay Thompson. With SF Andre Iguodala (knee) questionable, Golden State might be hard up for a complementary shooter to hit open threes.

The other big variable for Golden State is that assistant coach Mike Brown is running the bench in the absence of Steve Kerr (back surgery). Brown does not seem to have Kerr’s deft hand with making the right substitutions, which was why Golden State found itself in a 25-point hole in Game 1.

The total has gone over in 12 of the Spurs’ last 15 games overall and has also gone over in eight of their past 10 road games. The total has gone over in 10 of the Warriors’ last 15 games.