NBA Betting Preview: Tonight's playoff match-ups

The Boston Celtics bailed out Rajon Rondo with a win in Game 2 of their play-off series with the Atlanta Hawks. Now the mercurial point guard gets the chance to repay the favour by leading his team into a 2-1 lead on Friday night as the rivals travel to Beantown.

All eyes will be on Rondo, whose one-game suspension for bumping a referee was described as “selfish” by Celtics coach Doc Rivers. But on their homecourt, they’ve proven capable this season of shutting opponents down with a 24-9 record at the Garden.

Atlanta may risk Josh Smith despite a knee injury, but with a weakened front line, the Hawks are at a huge disadvantage. That’s why they are handicapped at +8 and only 4.60 to win in overtime. The best bet here is to go under the forecast points total of 173.5.

There’s sure to be plenty of intrigue in Philadelphia, where the Sixers are buoyant after stealing Game 2 of their first round series with Chicago. Without Derrick Rose for the remainder of 2012, the Bulls other stars struggled with Luol Deng and Carlos Boozer combining for just 17 points in a 109-92 loss.

That can’t happen again. It shouldn’t. Take the Bulls at 2.07 to win.

The Los Angeles Lakers head to Denver with a 2-0 lead over the Nuggets. Critically, they’ve had big leads in both games and been able to rest on them, carried by the potency of Andrew Bynum and Kobe Bryant. At +4 on the handicap, it’s worth a punt on the Lakers at 1.91. But with Denver with little option but to run and gun, go over the points total of 204.0.

Bet of the Day: Take the Bulls over the 76ers at 2.07.