The quarterfinals of the NBA’s first in-season tournament are set to take place on Monday and Tuesday. This is new territory for both the league and betting sites. Since these are the only games on the schedule for the next two nights, we decided to fake a close look at each game and come up with the best bets available. Let’s take a look at how we see things playing out in the tournament quarterfinals.
NBA Expert Picks and Best Bets | December 4
Boston Celtics vs Indiana Pacers Best Bet:
Despite reaching the quarterfinals of the in-season tournament, this game doesn’t come at a good time for the Pacers, who have lost four of their last seven games. Despite winning the second of back-to-back games against the Heat over the weekend, Indiana has been slumping and hasn’t won back-to-back games in nearly a month. With the way they've struggled defensively this season, one has to worry about them facing an elite team like the Celtics.
Boston has won three in a row and has 10 wins in its last 2 games. Of those 10 wins, seven have come by at least six points, so they aren’t sweating out too many games in the closing stages. While Kristaps Porzingis remains out with an injury, Al Horford is capable of playing big minutes and being productive. The Celtics also have more than enough scorers to take advantage of Indiana's leaky defense and outscore the Pacers by a comfortable margin.
New York Knicks vs Milwaukee Bucks Best Bet:
With nine wins in their last 11 games, the Bucks would appear to be a safe bet in a big game. To be fair, Milwaukee’s poor record against the spread is a little bit of a concern. However, the Bucks are still 9-1 at home thus far, including a win over the Knicks. Giannis heads into the in-season tournament quarterfinals fresh off his first triple-double of the season while Damian Lillard has scored over 30 points in three of his last five games. Things are definitely clicking for the Bucks, who might be eager to win the in-season tournament.
As for the Knicks, they've stumbled when playing quality teams on the road this season. They’ve suffered road losses to teams like the Pelicans, Bucks, Celtics, Timberwolves, and Suns. The trio of Jalen Brunson, Julius Randle, and RJ Barrett will all have to be at their best in this game. Even if that happens, the Knicks may not be able to keep up with Giannis and Lillard for 48 minutes, especially on the road.
Phoenix Suns vs Los Angeles Lakers Best Bet:
This is probably the most evenly-matched game of the quarterfinals. The Lakers are slight favorites in this game after beating the Suns twice already this season. However, both were tight games that could have easily gone the other way. Los Angeles has also struggled to find consistency lately, failing to win back-to-back games in almost two weeks. That makes them tough to trust as a favorite.
The Suns, on the other hand, rattled off seven straight wins during the second part of November and have now won eight of their last 10 games. Kevin Durant is averaging 31 points per game, stepping up big time with Bradley Beal missing most of the season and Devin Booker also battling injuries. But with Booker scoring 34 points in Saturday’s win over the Grizzlies, it’s safe to say he’s feeling healthy. Look for Durant and Booker to get the better of the Lakers in the quarterfinals.
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