It is now, effectively, a best-of-three series between the Los Angeles Clippers and the Memphis Grizzlies in the first round of the NBA Play-offs.
After splitting the first four games, the sides go back to LA for Game 5 on Tuesday night, with the hosts trying to recover from consecutive losses in which they were comprehensively overpowered.
In both defeats, Memphis denied the Clippers any early momentum and then lured their opponents into botched plays and a woeful conversion rate on second-chance points. If the Grizzlies can keep up the all-round dominance they showed in a 104-83 rout last weekend, then LA will find it hard to regain the upper hand.
Of course, to progress Memphis needs to win at least one more on the road and they’re 2.92 to accomplish that tonight. The Clippers are favoured by -5 on the handicap at 1.91 and their best hope is to get their offense rolling again. If Chris Paul can ignite his side, then it will likely push the total points over the line of 180, which is good value at 1.95.
Golden State have a chance to pull out the upset and knock Denver out of the post-season but, even with a 3-1 series lead, the Warriors won’t rest easy with Game 5 back in Colorado.
However, the Nuggets have been very much second best so far with their rivals, despite losing David Lee to injury, winning three straight and with Andrew Bogut’s unexpected contribution causing Denver ample problems.
Eight times in the last nine years, the Nuggets have gone out in the first round and their frustration at failing to live up to their seeding was illustrated when Kenneth Faried kicked a hole in the visitors locker room following Sunday’s 115-101 loss in Oakland.
Yet at home, Denver have been much more resilient all season, in spite of their Game 2 reverse at the Pepsi Center. While Golden State are a tempting 3.95 to close out and move into the Western Conference semi-finals, the Nuggets at -7.5 on the handicap, available at 1.91, looks a safer bet.
Best Bet: Go over the total points line of 180 in LA Clippers-Memphis at 1.95
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