Three of the four games scheduled for Wednesday are potential close-out games. However, to highlight just how strange this postseason has been so far, the team with the better regular season record is the team in danger of being eliminated from the postseason in all three of those tilts. The Cleveland Cavaliers, Memphis Grizzlies, and Milwaukee Bucks are all down 3-1 and on the brink of elimination. It wouldn’t be a big shock if Cleveland and Memphis were to lose given their opponents, but it would be a stunner to see Milwaukee go down. The Bucks were -1200 or more to win their series against the Miami Heat by the NBA futures odds, but Giannis Antetokounmpo’s injury in Game 1 has led to Milwaukee being in serious trouble.
NBA Betting Odds at BetRivers Sportsbook
New York Knicks (+5.5) at Cleveland Cavaliers
The Cleveland Cavaliers are dead in the water in their first round series against the New York Knicks. Cleveland has been held to 97 points or less in three of its four games (all losses), as the Cavaliers are having a tough time cracking the Knicks’ defense.
The only real perimeter threat in this series for Cleveland has been Darius Garland. He is knocking down 44% of his threes, while no one lese on the Cavaliers is hitting more than 31% of their shots from beyond the arc. However, even Garland is having his share of issues as he is making just 40.5% of his two-point attempts and has a 1.8 assist to turnover ratio.
Donovan Mitchell and Caris LeVert have both missed some open looks, and young star Evan Mobley has been largely shut down in the low post too. Meanwhile, Jalen Brunson has been the star of this series with 24.3 PPG. Brunson has struggled with his perimeter shooting, as have all the Knicks other than Josh Hart, but he has been able to get off his own shot and create for his teammates against the No. 1 defense in the regular season.
Cleveland has a young core and should be even better next year with some postseason experience under the belts of Garland and Mobley. The fact that the Knicks are up 3-1 without a lot of help from Julius Randle says a lot about the Cavaliers’ chances in this series though. I expect Randle to finally have a solid performance in Game 5 as the Knicks take care of business and win just their second playoff series since 2000.
Sacramento Kings (+4) vs. Golden State Warriors `
This has been the most exciting series in the first round. The Golden State Warriors and Sacramento Kings have gone back and forth, and the series is knotted at two games apiece with the home team winning every game. Golden State won two in a row in San Francisco to even the series, but observers are too quick to discount Sacramento.
De’Aaron Fox has been the best player in this series. Fox has shown that he is ready to go toe-to-toe with any other guard in the league, as he is averaging 31.5 PPG, 6.0 RPG, and 7.0 APG while shooting 44.7% from the floor. Unfortunately for both he and the Kings, his teammates have not been playing at the same level we saw in the regular season.
Malik Monk was great at home, but he had a dreadful performance in Game 3 and was subpar in Game 4. Kevin Huerter has been a shadow of himself, averaging just 9.0 PPG while making a scant 14.3% of his threes, and even Domantas Sabonis has struggled. Sabonis’ offensive production is down across the board, and that is the person the Kings need to step up the most on Wednesday.
Steph Curry and Klay Thompson are both having very good series for the Warriors, but this is clearly a two-man offense. The only two players on Golden State averaging more than 8.0 PPG are Andrew Wiggins and Jordan Poole, and they have both struggled to be efficient.
We have seen the Warriors struggle on the road all year long, so I will jump at the chance to take the Kings as a four-point home underdog by the NBA betting odds on Wednesday night.