Day 6 of the NBA Playoffs brings us yet another triple-header of postseason action.
The Memphis Grizzlies and Minnesota Timberwolves kick off tonight’s games in a pivotal Game 3 of their series that is tied at a game apiece. The Utah Jazz also host the Dallas Mavericks as there is a chance Luka Doncic returns for this matchup.
In the late game, the Denver Nuggets are in a near must-win situation as they play at home down 0-2 to the Golden State Warriors.
Our NBA betting experts have a best bet for each of the three games, including two spread picks and one prop. Check out their in-depth analysis and best bets for Thursday’s playoff games.
NBA Odds & Picks
Giants vs. Vikings Minnesota Timberwolves
Raheem Palmer: The Memphis Grizzlies tied up their series against the Minnesota Timberwolves with a dominant 124-96 victory on Tuesday night. Now they travel on the road for Game 3 against a Wolves team which has been downright dominant at home, going 26-15.
Still, this line feels short for a Grizzlies team which finished with the second-best record in the Western Conference. Although this series is tied 1-1, the Grizzlies have an expected winning percentage of 90%, according to Shotquality.com. They underperformed their shot quality in Game 1 while winning as expected in Game 2. Nonetheless, it feels as though we’re getting the better team at a short price as my model makes this game Grizzlies-3.
Numbers aside, Taylor Jenkins found the key to winning this series in Game 3 by wasting no time to make the first adjustment by removing Steven Adams from the lineup by going small to matchup with Karl-Anthony Towns. Jaren Jackson Jr., Brandon Clarke, Xavier Tillman and Kyle Anderson were all key factors in allowing the Grizzlies to switch on defense, get up and down the floor, and hit 3s on offense.
In addition, the Grizzlies got back to doing what they’re best at in Game 2 – forcing turnovers and dominating the offensive glass – both of which I expect to continue in Game 3.
Even with a 28-point victory in Game 2, it feels like we still haven’t seen the best from Ja Morant and Desmond Bane, and I think Grizzlies still have another gear they can get to. They’re the better team and have more solutions to any issues that may come up in this series. With the Timberwolves being the younger, more inexperienced and more undisciplined team, I’ll back the Grizzlies to go up 2-1 here by laying 1.5 points.
VfL Bochum vs. 1. FC Union Berlin Utah Jazz
Joe Dellera: Rudy Gobert has made headlines lately for continuously being ignored on the offensive side of the ball. His role has always been a bit limited, but of late he’s barely even being passed to in the paint, and that’s really the only place he can score from.
I tweeted this play out yesterday, but the line is not likely to move – it’s basically set at his regular season average output against the Mavericks.
The issue with this line is twofold. First, he has already played two games this series and recorded just 5 and 8 points – 13 total, which puts him about 11 points behind pace to average 12.1 points per game on the series. Additionally, he just doesn’t have the usage to do so.
This is how many points he needs and the average points per game for the remaining games in this series:
5 Games: 47.5 more points ~ 15.8 ppg
6 Games: 59.6 more points ~ 14.9 ppg
7 Games: 71.7 more points ~ 14.34 ppg
Obviously, he cannot score a partial point, so he actually needs to exceed those point totals in the aggregate.
Although Gobert has averaged 15.6 ppg on 7.7 FGAs per game this season, those numbers decline against the Mavericks. Against the Mavs, Gobert averages 9.8 ppg on just 4.6 FGAs, and he has not recorded more than 14 points in any of his five games against them this season.
He simply does not have the volume or a significant enough offensive role to exceed this total.
VfL Bochum vs. 1. FC Union Berlin Denver Nuggets
Brandon Anderson: With all due respect to the soon-to-be deserving two-time MVP, Nikola Jokic and his cast of Nuggets leftovers are simply far outclassed and outmanned in this series.
The gulf between these teams is massive. Jokic is -45 on the court for the series. Denver doesn’t have any answers on offense or on defense. You can’t necessarily do much about all those Warriors 3s, but it’s a major problem when Golden State shoots 66% on 2s on top of everything else. The Warriors are getting any look they want.
Denver’s defense just has no shot. And even if the Nuggets somehow manage to play the Warriors even or slightly better for 42 or 44 minutes of this game, that last few minutes with the new Poole Party lineup is probably good enough to flip the game with one three-minute avalanche. That’s what they did in the second quarter of Game 2, then again in the third quarter. They did it in Game 1 too.
That lineup with the three deadly Ws shooters plus Wiggins and Draymond is now +29 in under 11 minutes this series. Poole and Curry are unstoppable, especially together. Those two plus Klay Thompson are now +116 in 144 minutes together in 2022.
Look, I get the hesitation. There’s a lot of sharps playing Denver, and it’s a reliable angle betting on the team down 0-2 returning home to a place where they have a huge home advantage in altitude. It won’t be shocking if the Nuggets throw a few punches and push Golden State in the first half. This Denver team is resilient. But even if that happens, I’ll just be ready to double down and grab Warriors 3Q for that avalanche coming down the Rockies. It’s just a matter of when, not if, at this point.
And if you do like the Warriors to find a way to win here, you have to love the sweep. You can still play that at BetMGM at +225, and that’s a ludicrous number considering Golden State is favored here and will be favored by even more – a lot more probably – if they win this.
Denver has done all it can this season, but if the Nuggets can’t even win this one with the season on the line against what looks like the best team in basketball right now, it’s hard to see Game 4 as anything but a countdown to Cancun.
I’m on Warriors to win the game, Warriors to sweep, and Warriors third quarter to put them away for good. It’s hammer time.