Having avoided being swept from the NBA Play-offs with unexpected Game 4 wins, the trapdoor remains open for the Boston Celtics and Houston Rockets. Their first round opponents will be ready and willing to push them through on Wednesday night.
For the Celtics, the end of an era could be nigh. With the New York Knicks back at Madison Square Garden with a 3-1 series lead, Boston are 4.65 shots to survive beyond Game 5.
Elimination, surely, would see the remnants of their 2008 Championship team broken up, and possibly usher Kevin Garnett into retirement.
The Knicks are favoured at -8.5 on the handicap and there’s a simple reason why they should close this out.
JR Smith’s suspension was a huge factor in allowing the Celtics to steal a 97-90 overtime win on Sunday and the NBA’s Sixth Man of the Year is back into the fray. But even with his extra offensive punch, the total points line is 181 at 1.91 - a figure that hasn’t been exceeded in regulation during this season so far.
The Oklahoma City Thunder will try to blow up the Rockets at home but Houston can take some hope from the way they’ve been able to pierce their rivals’ defence since Russell Westbrook was sidelined.
Their three-point percentage has risen in each of the last three games and although no team has ever been eliminated after taking a 3-0 series lead, OKC are feeling a few nerves as they adjust to the loss of their starting point guard.
In the Thunder’s favour is Kevin Durant but his team need to get him more efficient shots. He’s been averaging 33 points per game in this series and although OKC are 1.20 to progress, there’s some value in taking Houston to cover the handicap of +8.5 at 1.91.
The Atlanta Hawks and Indiana Pacers are tied up at 2-2 in a series which has gone with home advantage so far and with Game 5 in Indy, the hosts will try to regain lost momentum. But they’ve found the Hawks’ bigger line-up troublesome and it’s worth a punt on Atlanta on the handicap of +6.5 or on going over the total points line of 188, available at 1.91.
Best Bet: Take New York over Boston on the handicap of -8.5 at 1.91
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