Eastern Conference – Game 6 (Raptors lead 3-2)
Toronto at Washington (NBATV, 7:05 p.m. ET)
— Toronto (62-25 straight up, 46-40-1 against the spread) took a 3-2 series lead by capturing a 108-98 win as a seven-point home ‘chalk.’ The 206 combined points dropped ‘under’ the 216-point total. With 3:40 remaining, the Raptors went on a 12-0 run to extend their lead from one to 13 before Bradley Beal’s 3-pointer with 16.7 ticks left. Just like in a Game 1 loss, Washington went cold offensively at crunch time and its backers paid for it. In the series opener, gamblers on the Wizards merely saw what they thought was going to be a winner turn into a push. But on Thursday night, bettors on the underdog were six points ahead of the number with less than four minutes remaining and had to taste a defeat.
— DeMar DeRozan was the catalyst for Toronto in the Game 5 triumph, producing 32 points and five assists. DeRozan hit 12-of-24 field-goal attempts and drained 3-of-4 launches from downtown. Delon Wright came off the bench and contributed 18 points, five rebounds, two steals and one blocked shot. Kyle Lowry added 17 points, three steals, two rebounds and 10 assists compared to only one turnover, while Jonas Valanciunas had a double-double with 14 points, 13 rebounds, two blocked shots and two assists without a turnover.
— John Wall scored 26 points, grabbed nine rebounds, dished out nine assists and blocked three shots in Thursday’s losing effort. Beal finished with 20 points, four boards and three assists, while Kelly Oubre, Jr. had 14 points thanks to 7-of-7 shooting at the free-throw line. Marcin Gortat had 10 points, 12 boards, two assists and one blocked shot. The Wizards enjoyed a 50-35 rebounding advantage, crashing the glass for 14 offensive boards, but they were an abysmal 5-of-26 (19.2%) from 3-point land.
— As of early Thursday night, most betting shops had Washington (45-42 SU, 39-47-1 ATS) installed as a two-point favorite for Friday’s Game 6 in D.C. The total was 214.5 points. For first-half wagers, the Wizards were favored by one point with the total at 109.5.
24-1 ATS at home. However, Washington captured back-to-back home wins over Toronto both SU and ATS in Games 3 and 4. The Wizards won Game 3 by a 122-103 count as one-point home ‘chalk’ thanks to 28 points apiece from Beal and Wall, the former one-and-done player at Kentucky who tallied seven rebounds, four steals and handed out 14 helpers compared to just three turnovers. They won a 106-98 decision in Game 4 as 1.5-point home underdogs. Beal, who scored 31 points on 5-of-7 shooting from long distance, fouled out with 4:58 remaining. With Beal on the bench fuming (at first) and then joyously rooting his teammates on, Wall took over down the stretch and finished with 27 points, 14 assists, six rebounds and four steals.
— Dwane Casey’s club is 25-18 SU and 22-21 ATS on the road this season.
— Sportsbook.ag has the updated series price with Toronto as a -850 ‘chalk.’ The Wizards are +600 underdogs to rally and win the final two games of this best-of-seven set.
— The ‘over’ hit in the first three games of this series, but the ‘under’ has now made back-to-back appearances in Games 4 and 5.
— The ‘over’ is 44-42-1 overall for the Raptors, 23-19 in their road assignments.
— The ‘under’ is 46-39-2 overall for the Wizards, 21-21-1 in their home outings.
It’s hard to argue against Washington at home but I believe the better play is on the ‘under’ for Friday. The Wizards have won eight straight dating back to last year’s playoffs and while the offense gets most of the attention, the defense (98.8 PPG) has been exceptional. The ‘under’ has gone 5-3 during this stretch and the last two games in this series have only seen 204 combined points scored.
If you believe Toronto will close out the series in win Game 6, then I would tell you to press my lean on the ‘under’ again. Since the Raptors made a return to the playoffs in 2014, Toronto has gone 5-15 SU and 6- 14 ATS as a visitor and defense has been the key factor. In the five wins, the Raptors allowed 84 PPG while surrendering an eye-opening 107.9 PPG in the losses
The team totals for both the Wizards and Raptors are sitting at 106 ½.
Eastern Conference – Game 6 (Cavaliers lead 3-2)
Cleveland at Indiana (TNT, 8:05 p.m. ET)
— Trailing this Eastern Conference first-round series 3-2, Indiana returns home Friday night to take on Cleveland in Game 6. As of early Thursday night, most books had the Pacers listed as one-point favorites with a total of 204.
— Cleveland (53-34 SU, 33-53-1 ATS) won a 98-95 decision in Game 5 thanks to LeBron James’s game-winning buzzer beater in Wednesday’s Game 5 at Quicken Loans Arena. However, the Pacers covered the number as six-point underdogs. The 193 combined points dropped ‘under’ the 206-point total. The Cavaliers outscored Indiana 32-17 in the third quarter to take an 81-73 advantage after being down seven at intermission. James was nothing short of sensational, producing 44 points, 10 rebounds, eight assists, one steal and one blocked shot. James buried 14-of-24 FGAs and all 15 of his free throws. Kyle Korver added 19 points by drilling 5-of-9 treys, while Kevin Love contributed 11 points and 10 rebounds. The Cavs made 26-of-27 FTAs.
— Indiana (50-37 SU, 51-36 ATS) went on a 6-0 run at crunch time to pull even on a FT-line jumper from Domantas Sabonis with 33 seconds remaining. Then James committed a turnover with 26.3 ticks left to give the Pacers a chance to steal Game 5 on the road. Victor Oladipo drove hard to the rim but was rejected by James with three seconds left, or was he? Replays clearly showed that Oladipo’s shot hit the backboard first before James blocked it. This should’ve resulted in a goaltending call, but that didn’t happen and James hit the game winner after a timeout was called.
— Sabonis scored a team-best 22 points on 8-of-12 shooting from the field in the Game 5 setback. The son of Arvidas Sabonis, the legendary Russian player who had an outstanding run with the Portland Trail Blazers despite not getting to the NBA until he was in his 30s and on the downside of his career due to multiple knee surgeries, Domantas also had five rebounds, two assists and one steal. Thaddeus Young had 16 points and six boards, while Lance Stephenson finished with 12 points and four assists compared to only one turnover. Oladipo had 12 points, 12 rebounds and four assists, but he was an atrocious 2-of-15 from the field. Oladipo made just 5-of-20 FGAs in Game 4, so he’s due (or better start hitting some shots if his team is going to force a Game 7) to break out of his shooting slump Friday night.
— Sportsbook.ag has the Cavs as -700 ‘chalk’ for the updated series price. The Pacers are +500 on the comeback (risk $100 to win $500).
— Through the first five games of the series, James has carried his team by averaging 34.8 points, 11.4 rebounds, 8.0 assists, 1.0 steals and 1.0 blocked shots per game. He has a 40/18 assist-to-turnover ratio and has knocked down 55.0 percent of his FGAs and 82.5 percent of his FTs.
— The ‘under’ has been a winner in all five games in this series to date. Going back to the regular season, the ‘under’ is 7-0-1 in the past eight games in this rivalry.
— The ‘under’ is 54-32-1 overall for the Pacers, 27-16 in their home games.
— The ‘under’ is 46-39-2 overall for the Cavs, 22-21 in their road assignments.
Even though the ‘under’ has cashed in the first five games of this series and is 7-1-1 in the nine meetings between the pair this season, the ‘over’ did have chances in a couple of games in this series. The pace hasn’t been fast and that’s a key factor but the main reason for the ‘under’ tickets is shooting percentages, especially in the second-halves.
We’ve seen the pair average 89 combined points in the second-half of this series and that’s led to a 5-0 ‘under’ record for savvy bettors playing the low side in the final 24 minutes. Despite seeing the ‘under’ run, I would’ve expected the total to drop but it’s held steady and that makes me believe an ‘over’ winner wouldn’t be surprising. Plus, the possibility of facing elimination for the Pacers could have the game extended.
Western Conference – Game 6 (Jazz lead 3-2)
Oklahoma City at Utah (TNT, 10:35 p.m. ET)
— Utah (51-36 SU, 46-41 ATS) allowed a 25-point third-quarter lead to get away in Wednesday’s Game 5 at Oklahoma City. Sparked by the remarkable play of Russell Westbrook and Paul Georgia, the Thunder rallied to not only win and extend its season, but to also take the money as a 2.5-point home favorite in a 107-99 win. The 206 combined points slithered ‘under’ the 207.5-point total.
— Westbrook went nuts in the second half, fueling the comeback that had the home fans in a frenzy. The UCLA product produced 45 points, 15 rebounds and seven assists. Westbrook drained 5-of-9 attempts from 3-point land. George had 34 points, eight rebounds, two assists, two steals and one blocked shot. On the flip side, the rapidly aging Carmelo Anthony didn’t offer up much assistance. He scored seven points, pulled down five rebounds and had a pair of steals. Anthony, who is averaging 12.8 points, 6.2 rebounds and 2.0 SPG in the series to date, has made only 36.9 percent of his FGAs and 21.4 percent of his 3-balls against the Jazz.
— Utah had six players in double figures in the Game 5 defeat. Jae Crowder was sensational with 27 points, eight rebounds, three assists and one steal. The mid-season acquisition from the Celtics hit six 3-pointers to help his team to the monster lead that would go to waste. Donovan Mitchell, who has averaged 26.6 points, 7.8 rebounds, 2.8 assists and 1.6 SPG in the series, had 23 points, five rebounds, three assists, three steals and one blocked shot. Joe Ingles finished with 16 points and Rudy Gobert tallied 11 points, 10 boards and a pair of rejections.
— As of early Thursday night, most spots had Utah listed as a six-point ‘chalk’ with a total of 206. The Thunder were available to win outright for a +220 payout (risk $100 to win $220).
Prior to falling in the regular-season finale in Portland and then dropping Game 1 in Oklahoma City, the Jazz hadn’t lost consecutive games since Jan. 15. Their resiliency will certainly be tested after coughing up a 25-point third-quarter lead, but they have the benefit of bouncing back at home, where they’ve won six straight. Four of the victories have come by double-digits, and Utah has now scored 100 or more points in 17 of 21 games after being held to 99 points on Wednesday. The Thunder have surrendered 100 or more points in 16 of the last 19 and must figure out how to win with Carmelo Anthony on the floor or risk alienating him via benching due to no other alternative in an elimination game.
— Quin Snyder’s squad owns a 30-13 SU record and a 24-19 ATS mark at home this season.
— OKC (50-37 SU, 36-50-1 ATS) is 21-21 SU and 18-24 ATS on the road.
— Utah is the -450 favorite to win this best-of-seven series at Sportsbook.ag, leaving the Thunder at +355 on the comeback (risk $100 to win $355).
— The ‘under’ cashed in all four regular-season meetings between these teams, but the ‘over’ is 3-2 in this series to date.
— The ‘under’ is 48-39 overall for OKC, 23-20 in its road outings.
— The ‘under’ is 44-42-1 overall for the Jazz, 25-18 in its home games. However, the ‘over’ hit in Games 3 and 4 in Salt Lake City.