The top two seeds in the NBA Playoffs are facing a little adversity headed into this weekend – with the identity of the potential champion still up in the air.
And for the Golden State Warriors – now 2.25 title favourites – there’s some catch-up to do as they head to Memphis on Saturday for Game 3 of the Western Conference semi-finals.
With Mike Conley’s facemask proving a phantom problem, the Grizzles snatched homecourt advantage by levelling the series at 1-1 with a 97-90 win on Tuesday and the point guard’s availability will continue to pose problems, especially in joining Tony Allen in providing some counter-point to the high scoring of Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson.
The Warriors are still worth a punt to advance 4-2, available at 3.50. But Memphis have proven experience at this stage and even at a 4-3 outcome in their favour, the odds of 12.00 are ultra-generous.
It shouldn’t come to that, of course. But seeing how Golden State – the league’s best road team this term - respond tonight will say a lot about their championship credentials.
The same goes for the Atlanta Hawks who needed a Game 2 win to tie their series with the Washington Wizards as the action shifts to DC on Saturday. John Wall’s fractured hand is a big cloud hanging over the Wiz. If he sits again, look at the Hawks on a -5.5 handicap at 2.23. If he is done for the series, then Atlanta on a 4-1 outcome at 4.50 will be terrific value.
The Chicago Bulls certainly have the Cleveland Cavaliers right where they want them heading into Game 4 of their East semi on Sunday.
Friday’s 99-96 win has seen Chicago slashed to 5.50 second favourites for the title and they can sense if they keep the Cavs under 95 points, they will probably prevail. At home, have a punt on the Bulls at -4.5 on the handicap at 2.67.
Best bet: Go under 191.5 total points in Memphis – Golden State at 2.55