NBA Expert Tips and Best Bets | May 01

By: James Salmon
30/04/2024
NBA Tips, Predictions & News
NBA Tips & Best Bets
Best Bets 2023 / 2024

The First Round of the NBA playoffs is nearing its climax, with a couple of series now wrapped, a couple of others locked at 2-2, while numerous teams find themselves in a win-or-go-home situation down 3-1. Two of the latter of those games will take place on Wednesday, with the Pacers looking to surprisingly close out the Bucks in Milwaukee and the Knicks hoping to send the Sixers packing at Madison Square Garden. Sandwiched in between those two games is Game 5 of the intriguing Magic vs Cavaliers series, which is locked at 2-2 after the Magic won both games in Orlando. It will be a huge day of NBA action, and these are our three best bets for the day. 

Philadelphia 76ers @ New York Knicks

Joel Embiid over 32.5 points | $1.87 with BlueBet

With Joel Embiid returning from an extended injury layoff on the eve of the playoffs, the 76ers loomed as a potential playoffs smokey, but now down 3-1 against the Knicks they have got their work cut out just to advance out of the First Round. In a tight series, the higher-seeded Knicks have managed to win three tight games, each of their victories coming by seven points or less, but win them they have and the result is that the Sixers will be sent home from the postseason early if they can’t find a way to win Game 5 on the road. If they’re to do that, Joel Embiid will need to have a massive impact. Their best player by some margin, Embiid, still hampered to some extent by injury, has been good without being spectacular for most of this series, but in the solitary game that the Sixers won he put up 50 points. He’s also scored at least 27 in the rest of them, but with the series on the line expect the Sixers to play through him wherever possible. Embiid’s minutes have increased every game of this series, from 37 in Game 1 to 39, 41 and then 44, so with nothing to lose don’t expect him to spend much time on the bench in this one. And when he is on the court, Embiid will no doubt be very aggressive offensively as he attempts to bully his way back to Philadelphia for a Game 6. The Sixers can’t win without him having a big game, and as much as nearly anyone in the league, Embiid is capable of scoring at will when his team needs it most. He has passed the 32.5-point line set for him by betting sites in this game twice out of four games this series, but with everything on the line it would be a surprise if he doesn’t put together a big game on Wednesday.  

bluebet Betting Site
Joel Embiid over 32.5 points @ Knicks @ $1.87
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Orlando Magic @ Cleveland Cavaliers

Under 200.5 total match points | $1.88 with GetSetBet 

The Magic vs Cavaliers series has quietly been one of the most intriguing of the First Round of the playoffs, with Cleveland jumping out to a 2-0 lead by winning both games of their opening home stand before the Magic bounced back with two wins in a row in Orlando. Unsurprisingly, this series has been something of a throwback to a bygone era, with the defensive prowess of both sides and a lack of offensive firepower relative to many other playoff teams resulting in some very low scoring games. During the regular season, the Magic ranked third and the Cavaliers seventh in defensive rating, while neither team cracked the top half of the league at the other end of the floor, and the two were also both bottom seven in pace as well. Invariably that meant this series shaped up as one with a lot of half-court offence and not a lot of scoring, and that’s exactly how it has played out. None of the four games have seen more than 204 points scored, and the average per game has been just 192.25. The 200.5 match points line set by betting agencies is pretty low, but it’s still significantly higher than that average for this series, and with things locked at two games all expect both team’s defences to lock in even further in this game. The first two games in Cleveland saw just 180 and 182 points scored with neither team cracking triple figures, and that looks likely once again in this game. 

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Magic @ Cavaliers under 200.5 total match points @ $1.88
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Indiana Pacers @ Milwaukee Bucks

Pacers -3.5 | $1.90 with PlayUp 

It was only a few weeks ago that the Bucks were the two seed in the Eastern Conference and seemingly the best chance of preventing the Celtics from advancing through to the NBA Finals. But they limped towards the end of the regular season, falling to third courtesy of a number of really poor losses, and that form – compounded drastically by some very significant injuries – has carried through to the playoffs. After winning Game 1 by 15 points, they have lost three on the trot against the far less fancied Pacers, with the absence of Giannis Antetokounmpo throughout the course of the series no small reason for that fall off. In Game 4, Damian Lillard was also forced to miss due to injury, and with easily their two best players absent they unsurprisingly struggled and went down by 13 points. Both Lillard and Antetokounmpo are doubtful for Game 5, and even back on their home court they will likely struggle without those two on the floor against a plucky Pacers team. Indiana knows exactly how they want to play and, led by Tyrese Haliburton, an in-form Myles Turner and Pascal Siakam, are very good at executing it. The Bucks, meanwhile, have been clunky all year even with their best team out there, and with the absence of their two main guys there is a lack of both direction and talent for this team. Even if one of Lillard and Antetokounmpo does manage to get up they will likely be significantly hampered by injury and probably won’t be able to have nearly the same impact as usual, so with the series there for the taking the Pacers should be able to overcome the relatively small handicap set for them by NBA betting sites and book themselves a date with either the Knicks, or the Sixers. 

playup-review
Pacers -3.5 @ Bucks @ $1.90
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James is a sports writer from Melbourne, and has contributed to a variety of publications covering a range of sports including basketball, cricket, Australian Rules, golf and surfing to name a few. An avid fan of all of the above and more, James’ downtime is spent falling ungracefully off his surfboard, turning over footies and playing an out of tune guitar.