NBA Predictions and Best Bets – September 4, 2020
Round two of the 2020 NBA playoffs are officially underway. The Nuggets and Clippers squared off for game one on Thursday, while Friday pits the Rockets and Lakers against each other.
I know it feels like we’re headed for an obvious Western Conference Finals, but with the Rockets and Nuggets looking battle-tested (and the top two seeds in the Eastern Conference down 2-0), it’s pretty clear that anything can happen.
Before we dive too far into the madness, let’s take a quick look at the two games we’ll be covering in this NBA playoff betting preview.
- Heat vs. Bucks
- Rockets vs. Lakers
James Harden and LeBron James understandably take the cake to close out the night, but Giannis Antetokounmpo and his Bucks trying to avoid an 0-3 hole will be just as compelling.
For my NBA predictions and top betting picks for Friday’s action, read on.
Heat vs. Bucks Predictions
- Bucks to beat Heat
- Predicted total: 220-225
I was on record in saying the Raptors and Bucks would both win game two of their respective series, and neither got the job done.
I’m still on Team Bucks going into game three, though, as Milwaukee had the best record during the regular season, and they’re better than what they’ve shown.
Jimmy Butler and the Heat are defending The Greek Freak very well.
GIANNIS: *enters the paint*— Pablo S. Torre (@PabloTorre) September 3, 2020
MIAMI HEAT DEFENSE: pic.twitter.com/WRavCOHbmm
He’s being slowed down in transition and met by a sea of defenders every time he tries to charge the basket. Given his struggles at the free-throw line, trying to fight through Miami’s wall hasn’t always been effective.
That said, it honestly is not a strategy the Bucks haven’t seen before. Milwaukee is capable of adapting and playing better. With their season hanging in the balance, I still think they do just that.
Rockets vs. Lakers Predictions
- Lakers to beat Rockets
- Predicted total: 220-225
James Harden and co. did just enough to outlast a pesky Thunder squad, so they could be tired as they play game one just two days later. Fatigue is always something to consider, but the Lakers could also be a bit rusty after resting for several days.
Houston has holes defensively, and this is obviously a spot where Anthony Davis should feast. However, the Rockets know how to get in lanes and create turnovers, and when they’re cooking from long range, they’re close to unstoppable.
The scary part? Russell Westbrook hasn’t even gotten his footing in these playoffs yet. I think the Lakers win game one, but the Rockets are going to give them a run for their money.
My Top NBA Picks for Friday, September 4th
- Bucks (-5) -110
- Bucks to Win (-210)
- Rockets (+6.5) -110
Milwaukee can’t lose this game. I said that going into game two, and to be fair, they got burned by an egregious last-second foul. They also got helped on a foul call prior to that, but they should have had an opportunity to play that game out in overtime.
It didn’t happen, but the Bucks now have to go full bore and ensure they escape game three with a win. This series is almost certainly over if they don’t, and in these types of situations, the desperate team tends to win big.
Milwaukee to win feels like a lock here, but -210 won’t excite many bettors. That looks like a good bet, but I expect the Bucks to leave no doubt here as they look to get back in this series.
For the other game, Houston could be tired, but they’ll still come to play. L.A. was caught sleeping in a game one loss in round one, and we could see something similar go down on Friday.
The Lakers can absolutely carve up this Rockets defense, and their own defense could flip the game script on its side. That said, Houston has a bevy of shooters, so even if the Lake Show put the clamps down on Harden and Westbrook, they still have their work cut out for them here.
It’s worth noting that the Lakers have been 4-9 ATS at a neutral site this year, and they also are 31-34-1 against the spread when favored. I think Houston keeps this one close and gives the Lakers a scare, while like every Rockets game, the Over is probably going to be a bet worth targeting.