Cleveland Cavaliers at Detroit Pistons (+4.5, 200.5)
Cavaliers lead series 2-0
The Cleveland Cavaliers put on a spectacular shooting exhibition in Game 2 and attempt to take a 3-0 lead in the first-round series when they visit the Detroit Pistons on Friday. Cleveland drained 20 3-pointers in Wednesday’s 107-90 victory over the Pistons to tie the NBA playoff record shared by the Seattle SuperSonics (1996), Dallas Mavericks (2011) and Golden State Warriors (2015).
The top-seeded Cavaliers received seven 3-pointers by shooting guard J.R. Smith and four from point guard Kyrie Irving in the 20-of-38 shooting effort. “I don’t care if you’re left by yourself, 20 of 38 is pretty good shooting,” Pistons coach Stan Van Gundy told reporters of the Cleveland shooting. Eighth-seeded Detroit has its back against the wall after the two road losses and faces a must-win situation in Game 3. The Pistons let a fourth-quarter lead get away in Game 1 and saw its hopes in Game 2 fade away with a 15-point third quarter.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, FSN Ohio (Cleveland), FSN Detroit
LINE HISTORY: Cleveland opened as 4-point road favorites and after only a few hours of betting action the books moved the line up to 4.5. The total opened at 200.5 and hasn’t moved since its release. View complete line history here.
ABOUT THE CAVALIERS (59-25, 38-43-3 ATS, 42-42 O/U): Smith scored 21 points in Game 2 after struggling to nine points on 3-of-9 shooting in the opener. Consistent shooting from Smith would complement the trio of small forward LeBron James, power forward Kevin Love and point guard Kyrie Irving. “We have shooters and they are designated snipers and I’m not one of them,” James told reporters. “I’m more like a tank or something like that.”
ABOUT THE PISTONS (44-40, 43-39-2 ATS, 43-41 O/U): Detroit is playing a physical series with no interest in backing down and rookie forward Stanley Johnson mixed it up with James during Game 2. “Their whole team talks,” Johnson told reporters. “All those guys on the bench, they’re like cheerleaders. Only seven, eight guys are playing, but they’re all talking. They might as well be in the stands.” Starting forward Tobias Harris is struggling and averaging 11 points on 7-of-22 shooting in the series while forward Marcus Morris had just 11 points on 2-of-10 shooting in Game 2 after scoring 20 points in the series opener.
* Cavaliers are 2-8-1 ATS in their last 11 vs. NBA Central.
* Pistons are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 Conference Quarterfinals games.
* Over is 4-0 in Cavaliers last 4 road games vs. a team with a home winning % of greater than .600.
* Over is 8-2 in Pistons last 10 Friday games.
* Road team is 4-1 ATS in the last 5 meetings.
Atlanta Hawks at Boston Celtics (-3, 200.5)
Hawks lead series 2-0
If the Boston Celtics hope to stay in their first-round series for more than two more games, they are going to need to solve the Atlanta Hawks’ stifling defense. The Hawks will try to build a commanding 3-0 lead in the best-of-seven series behind that defense when they visit Boston on Friday.
The Celtics shot 23 percent from the field in the first half of Game 1 before overcoming a 19-point deficit and falling just short 102-101. Atlanta put together the same early effort defensively in Game 2 and this time did not let up, jumping out to a 24-3 lead and stifling Boston the rest of the way in an 89-72 triumph. “I think that (Game 2) had a different feel than even the other night,” Celtics coach Brad Stevens told reporters. “The other night it was one of those nights where we didn’t shoot it (well at first), like we had done some really good things and then once we started making shots we felt really good about our chances. Here, it never felt like we were at their level.” Boston is also dealing with a series of injuries and does not expect Avery Bradley (hamstring) back for Game 3 while Kelly Olynyk (shoulder) is questionable.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, ESPN2, FSN Southeast (Atlanta), CSN New England (Boston)
LINE HISTORY: The Celtics opened as three-point favorites at home and the total opened at 200.5 – neither line has moved since hitting the betting board. View complete line history here.
ABOUT THE HAWKS (50-34, 43-40-1 ATS, 38-46 O/U): Atlanta recorded a franchise playoff-record 15 blocked shots in Game 2 and set an NBA playoff record by limiting the Celtics to seven first-quarter points. The Hawks weren’t as strong offensively – shooting 39 percent from the floor – but guard Kyle Korver bounced back from a 1-of-10 performance (0-of-7 from 3-point range) with 17 points in Game 2 on 6-of-9 shooting (5-of-7 from beyond the arc). Al Horford matched Korver with 17 points to go along with five blocks in Game 2 and is averaging 20.5 points in the series while helping Korver out beyond the arc, knocking down 4-of-6.
ABOUT THE CELTICS (48-36, 43-40-1 ATS, 39-45 O/U): Boston went 3-of-23 in that disastrous first quarter and was not much better the rest of the way. The absence of Bradley forced Marcus Smart into the starting lineup, and he went 1-of-11 from the floor while All-Star Isaiah Thomas regularly faced a swarm of defenders and seemed to have his shot swatted away every time he went into the paint. “There’s always two guys on me, at least, when I don’t have the ball,” Thomas told reporters. “They’re looking in my eyes, they’re face-guarding me. The best players figure it out. That’s just a sign of respect from (the Hawks), and I just gotta figure it out.”
* Hawks are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 road games vs. a team with a winning home record.
* Celtics are 1-8 ATS in their last 9 games playing on 2 days rest.
* Under is 8-2 in Hawks last 10 Conference Quarterfinals games.
* Under is 4-1 in Celtics last 5 games playing on 2 days rest.
* Hawks are 4-1 ATS in the last 5 meetings.
San Antonio Spurs at Memphis Grizzlies (+6, 217.5)
Spurs lead series 2-0
The San Antonio Spurs mauled Memphis in each of the first two games and look to take a 3-0 lead in the first-round series when they visit the Grizzlies on Friday. Second-seeded San Antonio won the first two games by an average of 29 points and limited injury ravaged Memphis to an average of 71 points.
The Spurs were expected to roll over the seventh-seeded Grizzlies but All-Star small forward Kawhi Leonard made it clear the series momentum can still change hands. “Yeah, but that’s the thing you’ve got to fight,” Leonard told reporters. “We’ve still got to execute. We turned over the ball a lot (17 in Game 2). They’re physical, and they have great hands. But this is still an opportunity for us to improve. They’re still an NBA team.” Memphis hasn’t always resembled an NBA team since season-ending injuries to center Marc Gasol (foot) and point guard Mike Conley (Achilles) and small forward Matt Barnes isn’t putting a lot of stock into getting the next two games at home. “It doesn’t matter where we play, we’ve just got to play better,” Barnes told reporters. “We can play (in San Antonio), we can play at the YMCA, we can play in Memphis; it doesn’t matter where we play at if we play the way we’ve been playing. The court doesn’t matter. It’s on the players – we’ve got to do a better job executing.”
TV: 9:30 p.m. ET, ESPN, FSN Southwest (San Antonio), FSN Southeast (Memphis)
LINE HISTORY: The Spurs opened as 10.5-point road favorites and the public dictated that wasn’t enough – the books adjusted their line to San Antonio -11.5 fairly quickly. The total opened at 181 and was bumped up slightly to 181.5. View complete line history here.
ABOUT THE SPURS (69-15, 46-38 ATS, 35-47-2 O/U): Fast starts on the defensive end have fueled the two blowout victories as San Antonio held Memphis to 13 points in the first quarter of the opener and just 11 in Game 2. All-Star power forward LaMarcus Aldridge is playing with a dislocated right pinky finger and has been a big factor in why Memphis power forward Zach Randolph has been unable to get on track. “I just think LaMarcus played excellent defense tonight,” Popovich told reporters. “We didn’t double-team him or anything like that. If he got in the lane, we tried to make a play I guess, but mostly L.A. gets the credit for doing a fine job on a great player.”
ABOUT THE GRIZZLIES (42-42, 42-41-1 ATS, 45-37-2 O/U): Randolph is just 8-of-30 shooting while averaging 8.5 points in the series and Barnes is averaging only 5.5 points on 4-of-18 shooting. Barnes wasn’t pleased to play only 30 minutes in the Game 2 loss and publicly expressed his frustration. “I don’t want to play 20 minutes getting beat so bad,” Barnes told reporters. “I want to play 40-45 minutes and swing every second we can. I don’t want to save nothing, nothing should be in the tank. I’m not even tired right now, it’s frustrating.”
* Spurs are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games following a straight up win of more than 10 points.
* Grizzlies are 0-6 ATS in their last 6 home games following a road trip of 7 or more days.
* Under is 12-1 in Spurs last 13 road games vs. a team with a winning home record.
* Under is 6-1 in Grizzlies last 7 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600.
* Favorite is 7-1 ATS in the last 8 meetings.
* Warriors are 5-1 ATS in the last 6 meetings in Houston.
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