The Milwaukee Bucks and Phoenix Suns will look to reclaim home-court advantage as both teams look to recover Game 2 losses on their home courts to the Chicago Bulls & New Orleans Pelicans, respectively.
The Atlanta Hawks, meanwhile, are sitting in a 2-0 series hole and will hope to swing some momentum their way when they welcome the Miami Heat to town.
Let’s take a look at how things are shaping up on Friday’s card for the NBA playoffs betting game preview.
Miami Heat vs Atlanta Hawks: Game 3 Analysis
The Atlanta Hawks will look to register their first win of these playoffs as they return home to face the Miami Heat.
Game 2 certainly got away from Atlanta in the second half and, despite a late push in the fourth quarter, the Hawks simply weren’t able to execute their offense in the clutch against Miami’s defense.
Jimmy Butler was unstoppable as he put up a career playoff-high 45 points. While things were much better for Trae Young, both he and the Hawks continued to struggle from beyond the arc.
Miami’s switch-heavy defense is making life difficult for Atlanta to find any sort of rhythm and if the Hawks can’t find a way to be efficient from deep, it puts an incredible amount of strain on their inside presence to be effective.
Returning home, the Hawks will undoubtedly get the offensive injection they need and, given the disparity in performances at home all season, it’s easy to see why the market support is strong on them.
Bam Adebayo and PJ Tucker are questionable, but the expectation is that both will go and play. That said, if either one is struggling on the floor, expect coach Erik Spoelstra to play it safe in his approach and limit their time on the floor.
Milwaukee Bucks vs Chicago Bulls: Game 3 Analysis
This series has become unexpectedly interesting after Chicago pulled off a huge upset in Game 2, which was compounded by the loss of Khris Middleton for the Bucks.
Milwaukee has been a model of inconsistency this season when one of their core starters has missed time, so it’ll be interesting to see how the Bucks adapt to Middleton being out in the short-term.
After sitting at +1300 to win the series prior to Game 2, the market has shifted dramatically on the back of both Chicago’s road win and the Middleton injury. The Bulls are now just +210 to pull off the upset.
Despite the doom and gloom surrounding the Bucks, the reality is they were probably the better team and simply succumbed to hot shooting from Chicago’s big three.
Shot quality metrics show the Bucks actually should have won that game almost 65 percent of the time based on the offensive shot selection and projections from both teams. If we get that regression from the Chicago offense, there’s a good chance that the Bucks reclaim home-court advantage immediately in this series.
The Bucks, who were -2½-game favorites on the series handicap at a massively juice -220 by tip-off of Game 1, are currently sitting at +120 on an adjusted -1½ series handicap line.
I refuse to believe Bucks coach Mike Budenholzer won’t have something ready for this game and the overreactions on both sides seem pretty dramatic at the moment despite the injury worry surrounding Milwaukee’s second-best player.
Phoenix Suns vs New Orleans Pelicans: Game 3 Analysis
The Phoenix Suns are also hoping to reclaim home-court advantage after they split in the desert to kick things off.
The bigger concern, however, is the status and health of star guard Devin Booker, who is out indefinitely with a right hamstring strain.
Some reports are suggesting that Booker could miss two to three weeks of action and the markets have responded by instilling the Golden State Warriors as Western Conference favorites for the first time since the opening weeks of the season.
This series has certainly taken a twist outside of the unfortunate injury news. New Orleans seemed to have the length to make things very difficult for Phoenix to impose its usual defensive resilience.
That said, Monty Williams is a terrific playoff coach and they’ll certainly have things in store for Games 3 and 4 to force the Pelicans to adjust their offense in order to generate good looks.
The primary adjustment, however, is simply effort on the boards. New Orleans was completely dominant in the rebounding compartment for the first two games.
Rebounding and defense are what wins playoff games. If the Suns are able to address both of those, they should be able to find enough offense to navigate things in Booker’s absence. This also sets up as the perfect opportunity for center Deandre Ayton to show his value to the organization as he hunts a max contract this offseason.
The Suns series handicap has been adjusted to -1½ games at +120, which is a long way off the -2½ games line that was as low as -250 prior to Game 1. In fact, after they took a 1-0 lead, the Suns were just +180 to sweep this series.
While a tough series does lay ahead, the assumption that things are in the balance seems optimistic at best for Pelicans fans. They are still underdogs and will need to do plenty to knock off a Chris Paul-led team.