Thursday’s NBA playoffs betting preview and odds

 

Reining league MVP Stephen Curry is officially listed as Questionable for Thursday night’s Game 3 contest in Houston. Although he has said that his injured ankle and foot are feeling better, the Warriors may hold him out just to be sure.

Oklahoma City Thunder at Dallas Mavericks (+8.5, 196.5)

Series tied 1-1

Dallas forward Dirk Nowitzki plans to play through a bruised right knee and the Mavericks look to take a 2-1 series lead when they host the Oklahoma City Thunder on Thursday. Nowtizki injured the knee during Monday’s 85-84 victory, a stunning road win that kept sixth-seeded Dallas alive in the series.

Nowitzki, who said he was injured on the first play of game, underwent an MRI exam that revealed the bone bruise and he was relieved that it wasn’t anything more significant. “I had it worked on a little bit and after the game I was really stiff,” Nowitzki told reporters on Wednesday. Coming off the plane, I could barely walk anymore. There was some swelling (Tuesday), but it’s feeling a lot better, moving around a little bit.” The third-seeded Thunder are dealing with a bruised psyche after losing Game 2 following a 38-point beat down of the Mavericks in the series opener. All-Star forward Kevin Durant was a horrid 7-of-33 shooting in Monday’s loss, prompting coach Oklahoma City coach Billy Donovan to describe it this way: “For a guy that’s been as great a scorer as he has his entire career, for him to shoot the ball the way he did was really uncharacteristic.”

TV: 7 p.m. ET, TNT, FSN Oklahoma, KTXA (Dallas)

LINE HISTORY: The Thunder opened the betting for this matchup as 8.5-point favorites. The line initially dropped to Dallas +8, then rose as high as +9.5, before settling back down to the opening number of +8.5. The total opened at 197 and dropped slightly to 196.5. View complete line history here.

MATCHUP CHART:

ABOUT THE THUNDER (56-28, 38-45-1 ATS, 39-45 O/U): Durant, who scored 21 points, had never previously missed 26 shots before in a game and he didn’t have any answers for why he shot so poorly. “Bad shooting night for me,” Durant said. “It’s a part of it. I wish it didn’t happen tonight, but it’s a part of it. Got some great looks all night and just didn’t knock them down. Just stick with my routine – don’t do too much extra.” Point guard Russell Westbrook also shot a poor percentage (8-of-22) while contributing 19 points and 14 rebounds but only six assists.

ABOUT THE MAVERICKS (43-41, 46-37-1 ATS, 39-44-1 O/U): Nowitzki’s injury is just the latest in a long line of ailments for Dallas, which won’t know until close to game time whether or not point guards J.J. Barea (groin) and Deron Williams (sports hernia) or forward David Lee (foot) will be available. Barea ran after Wednesday’s practice – a good sign – while Williams is trying to fight through an injury that will require offseason surgery. “We know from a manpower standpoint we’re at a pretty big disadvantage,” Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle told reporters. “And we know we’re not going to outrun or outdunk or outskill these guys.”

TRENDS:

* Thunder are 9-2 ATS in their last 11 games vs. a team with a winning straight up record.
* Mavericks are 0-5 ATS in their last 5 home games vs. a team with a winning road record.
* Under is 6-1 in Thunder last 7 vs. NBA Southwest.
* Under is 9-2 in Mavericks last 11 overall.
* Over is 24-9-1 in the last 34 meetings in Dallas.

Toronto Raptors at Indiana Pacers (+1.5, 193)

Series tied 1-1

Jonas Valanciunas has been Toronto’s most reliable performer through the first two games of the series and the Raptors hope the 7-foot center has another strong effort in him when they visit the Indiana Pacers in Thursday’s Game 3. Valanciunas averaged team-leading figures of 17.5 points and 17 rebounds as second-seeded Toronto split the first two games with seventh-seeded Indiana.

Valanciunas had 23 points and 15 rebounds in Monday’s 98-87 victory as the Raptors evened the series in a contest in which All-Star guards Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan continued to struggle. “We’ve all got to step up,” Valanciunas told reporters. “It’s not an individual sport. Some nights are tough for Kyle, some nights it’s tough for DeMar, tough for me. Everybody has tough times, so everybody has got to pull for each other.” All-Star forward Paul George is averaging 30.5 points in the series but he was annoyed the Pacers returned to Indianapolis with a split instead of a 2-0 lead. “You usually feel good walking away from a road trip with the series tied at one, but I’m upset because a lot of stuff that we gave up was preventable,” George told reporters. “(Game 2) was set up the same way for us as Game 1 to rally back and win this game. I thought our focus was lost and we gave up some plays that we shouldn’t have.”

TV: 7:30 p.m. ET, NBATV, Sportsnet One (Toronto), FSN Indiana

LINE HISTORY: This game opened as a PICK and the public pushed the Raptors all of the way up to -1.5. The total opened at 193 and was bumped up to 193.5. View complete line history here.

MATCHUP CHART:

ABOUT THE RAPTORS (57-27, 46-38 ATS, 42-41-1 O/U): Lowry is averaging 14 points on 7-of-26 shooting and DeRozan is averaging 12 points on 10-of-37 shooting as neither player has come close to his All-Star form in the series. Most concerning was DeRozan’s Game 2 showing as he didn’t attempt a single free throw – he averaged 8.4 per game in the regular season – and coach Dwane Casey kept him on the bench for the entire fourth quarter. “I feel like it’s nothing to get frustrated about, I really do,” DeRozan told reporters at Tuesday’s practice. “I don’t mind having bad shooting nights. You have to be able to take the good with the bad. I had a great season, the season is over with and I’ve had two rough shooting nights. I don’t think it’s the end of the world; we still won (Game 2).”

ABOUT THE PACERS (46-38, 42-41-1 ATS, 37-47 O/U): George has been terrific but could certainly use some help from his teammates as shooting guard Monta Ellis (15 per game) is the only other Indiana player averaging in double digits in the series. “We all have to do a better job of helping Paul out,” Pacers guard Rodney Stuckey told reporters. “We’re at our best offensively when we’re moving the ball around and moving (our feet).” Other than George, Indiana’s frontcourt production has been practically non-existent with starting center Ian Mahinmi (0-of-8 shooting) and starting power forward Lavoy Allen each averaging three points per game and reserve forwards Myles Turner (nine per game) and Solomon Hill (7.5) also with room to improve.

TRENDS:

* Raptors are 1-8 ATS in their last 9 Conference Quarterfinals games.
* Pacers are 8-2 ATS in their last 10 games following a straight up loss.
* Under is 6-0 in Raptors last 6 games following a ATS win.
* Under is 4-0 in Pacers last 4 Conference Quarterfinals games.
* Raptors are 8-1 ATS in the last 9 meetings in Indiana.

Golden State Warriors at Houston Rockets (+6, 217.5)

Warriors lead series 2-0

The Golden State Warriors got some good news in regards to Stephen Curry’s health, but the team might not even need the superstar to get through the first round. The eighth-seeded Houston Rockets are down 0-2 and will try to get back into the series when they host Game 3 on Thursday.

Curry scored 24 points in the first half of Game 1 before leaving with an ankle injury and sat out Game 2. The Warriors breezed to a 115-106 win behind 34 points from Klay Thompson on Monday and on Tuesday announced that an MRI exam on Curry’s ankle showed nothing of concern. “We’ll see how he responds the next couple of days, and if he’s not right, obviously being up 2-0 does give us more cushion if we decide to sit him,” Golden State coach Steve Kerr told reporters after Monday’s win. “But it will be based on his health – not the series score.” Whether or not Curry plays, Houston is going to need to find a way to hang onto the ball after totaling 43 turnovers in the first two games.

TV: 9:30 p.m. ET, TNT, CSN Bay Area (Golden State), ROOT (Houston)

LINE HISTORY: The Warriors opened as 5.5-point favorites on the road for Game 3 of this series. The public pounded Golden State and the books were forced to move the Dubs’ line up to -6. The total opened at 217 and was bumped up to 218. View complete line history here.

MATCHUP CHART:

ABOUT THE WARRIORS (75-9, 47-35-2 ATS, 46-37-1 O/U): Curry is listed as questionable for Game 3 and Golden State knows how to play without its star if necessary. “All the guys knew they had to be aggressive with Steph out,” Kerr told reporters after the Game 2 victory. “The best number on the stat sheet is 16 free throws for Klay. I thought he was fantastic. He came up big.” Shaun Livingston started in Curry’s place and scored 16 points on 7-of-9 shooting while Andre Iguodala stepped up off the bench with 18 points and Draymond Green flirted with a triple-double with 12 points, 14 rebounds and eight assists.

ABOUT THE ROCKETS (41-43, 37-47 ATS, 48-36 O/U): James Harden scored 28 points in Game 2 and went 13-of-15 from the free-throw line after not attempting one in Game 1, but Houston appeared disjointed on both ends in both games. Center Dwight Howard has taken some criticism and needed his coach to come to his defense after Game 2. “No, I don’t think he was disinterested,” interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff told reporters. “I thought he was good on the glass. I thought he was running. Give (Warriors center Andrew) Bogut some credit, he does a good job with his size. He’s physical, uses his length, he pushes, he grabs, he holds, so I wouldn’t say he was disinterested. I thought he gave his effort.”

TRENDS:

* Warriors are 9-0 ATS in their last 9 Thursday games.
* Rockets are 8-3 ATS in their last 11 Conference Quarterfinals games.
* Under is 5-0 in Warriors last 5 road games.
* Over is 4-1 in Rockets last 5 home games vs. a team with a winning road record.
* Warriors are 5-1 ATS in the last 6 meetings in Houston.

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