The Boston Celtics and Brooklyn Nets do battle in Game 2 at Boston’s TD Garden in what is undoubtedly the showcase piece in Wednesday night’s NBA.
The Milwaukee Bucks will also look to take a 2-0 series lead at home when they take on the Chicago Bulls, while the Toronto Raptors try to register their first win of the series as Game 3 takes place in Toronto against the Philadelphia 76ers.
Let’s take a look at how things are shaping up on Wednesday’s card:
Brooklyn Nets vs Boston Celtics: Game 2 Analysis
The Boston Celtics escaped with a 115-114 winner in Game 1 courtesy of a buzzer-beater from Jayson Tatum. Now the question is whether that sparks a response from Brooklyn or if the Celtics take the confidence from that win to defend their home court.
Boston is once again -4.0 point favorites for Game 2, just as the Celtics were on the closing number for Game 1. Only this time, the market is pushing toward Brooklyn on the back of how things unfolded.
Despite the market support for this particular matchup, the outcome of Game 1 has seen the Celtics drop from -133 to -225 to win the series despite the fact that they’ve yet to go on the road.
The question is whether the Nets can get more from their roster outside of Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, although a more efficient performance from the latter could also go a long way to having the road team steal one here.
The flip side is whether Brooklyn can ever really do enough on the defensive end to stifle the Celtics, or if the Nets will simply rely on Irving and Durant do more on offense than what Boston match.
The Celtics completely dominated the rebounding category in Game 1, which in itself played a big part in securing the win. There’s no real answer for Brooklyn on how to stop that either so we should see Boston again be able to do enough in key areas and allow its offense to carry the remaining weight to secure another home win.
Philadelphia 76ers vs Toronto Raptors: Game 3 Analysis
The Toronto Raptors will look to keep this series interesting as they head home looking to defend their home court against the Philadelphia 76ers.
A lot has been made of Philly’s wins in the first two games of this series, but until they do it on the road, this one is a long way from over – even if the market is trying to tell a different story.
The Raptors were +145 to win this series prior to Game 1 but, after losing both on the road, have blown out to +1200 as a market consensus. Given that the question marks around Philadelphia on the road still exist, it’s interesting to see such an overreaction, especially when you consider Toronto is only a one-possession underdog at home in this one.
After closing as 6½-point underdogs in Game 2, the Raptors have opened at +1½ for Wednesday, which is made more intriguing by the fact that Gary Trent Jr is looking likely to play and be in better shape than he was last game.
Scottie Barnes remains doubtful, but having seen coach Nick Nurse play possum with his players in the past, there’s no certainty that he won’t be available to take the floor.
The big caveat, though, will be whether Toronto’s home crowd can assist in creating a the kind of atmosphere that will have the refs swallow their whistles. Because unless the Raptors can get physical play inside on Joel Embiid, it’s difficult to see how they can be as efficient on offense against set defenses .
The line strength here suggests Toronto is the side here and it would be the way to go. If you are looking to bet on Toronto, there’s correlation to taking the Raptors with a +2½ game series handicap at +160 as well.
Chicago Bulls vs Milwaukee Bucks: Game 2 Analysis
The Milwaukee Bucks will look to turn things up a notch in Game 2 after a less-than-inspiring win to start their first-round series against the Chicago Bulls.
As has been the case for the Bucks under Mike Budenholzer in the playoffs, things were a little lackadaisical at times from Milwaukee in Game 1. Ultimately, they were able to assert their dominance down the stretch and used their mismatches to their advantage, but not nearly as much as they could or should have at times.
That all points to a much more stable performance at both ends from Milwaukee in this one, which is again a staple of what the Bucks do with Budenholzer when playing a home series.
The Bulls comfortably covered the 10½-point spread for Game 1 and the market has essentially re-opened as it did for that one. The home side is sitting as 10-point favorites in Game 2.
The Bucks remain overwhelming favorites to win the series, with the +1300 price on Chicago to win being the highest of any team across any of the first-round series.
Look for an aggressive Milwaukee from the opening tip in a game that the Bucks could blow open early and control for a wire-to-wire win and cover.