AFTER 2460 regular season games, the NBA title race has been whittled down to 16 teams.
Eight in the east and eight in the west, playing for the right to become part of the final eight in the conference semi finals.
There is only a pair of playoff games on the Wednesday slate, with the planes heading east and west.
The Boston Celtics face off with the Atlanta Hawks on their home court in Georgia for game two of the eastern conference clash, while the depleted Memphis Grizzlies step out against the San Antonio Spurs in Texas in the faint hope of squaring up their series.
Both home teams hold 1-0 leads and will make it remarkably tough for the lower ranked sides to steal the series if they go two games ahead.
Who will win?
Who knows, but here we’ll try and find you a sneaky double – and maybe a tip or two – to help you win a little cash.
Boston Celtics at the line +6.5 vs. Atlanta Hawks ($1.91)
San Antonio Spurs at the line -17.5 vs. Memphis Grizzlies ($1.91)
Multi odds pay $3.64 with Sportsbet.com.au
Boston Celtics vs. Atlanta Hawks
Boston Celtics ($3.05) at Atlanta Hawks ($1.40), Wednesday, April 20, 2016, 9am AEST, Philips Arena, Atlanta, Georgia
Suggested bet: Boston Celtics at the line +6.5 ($1.91 with sportsbet.com.au)
Bonus bet: Atlanta Hawks to win by 1-10 points ($2.41 with sportsbet.com.au)
These are the fourth and fifth ranked teams in the east and it feels like a series that could go either way. They both have identical records at 48-34, but Atlanta won three of the four match ups between these two teams during the regular season. And so it went in game one, the home team Hawks having it served up to them by the Celtics, before taking it out by a solitary point, 101-102. The Hawks almost blew a 19 point lead, as the plucky Celtics, led by their beloved all star Isaiah Thomas, almost stole the game. Thomas splashed 27 points with four three pointers and dished out eight assists, combining with back court mates Avery Bradley, who had 18, and reserve Marcus Smart (15) to keep the leprechauns in it. But Al Horford had a big double double with 24 points and 12 assists, Jeff Teague had 23 points and 12 assists and Kent Bazemore had 24-8 in his best playoff performance. The Celtics have had a good look at the Hawks and you just feel that coach of the year candidate Brad Stevens will make some changes to ensure they don’t fall in a hole as deep as game one. This series is going to be close all the way through, but we reckon the Celtics might just even it up to take it back to Boston. If the Hawks do win, it won’t be by much, so the Boston line, or the 1-10 look like good picks to us.
Memphis Grizzlies at San Antonio Spurs
Memphis Grizzlies ($19) at San Antonio Spurs ($1.02), Wednesday, April 20, 2016, 11.30am AEST, AT&T Centre, San Antonio, Texas
Suggested bet: San Antonio Spurs at the line -17.5 ($1.91 with sportsbet.com.au)
Bonus bet: Total points scored under 186.5 ($1.91 with sportsbet.com.au)
If you were looking at two series that couldn’t be more different, here you have it. While the Hawks and Celtics will be fighting tooth and nail for supremacy, the Grizzlies are on an absolute hiding to nothing against the dominant San Antonio Spurs. The second ranked Spurs won a remarkable 67 games, their brilliant season overshadowed by the dominance of Steph Curry and the Golden State Warriors. The Grizzlies somehow went 42-40 and are rolling out a rag tag bunch of journey men, thanks to season ending injuries to linchpins Marc Gasol and Mike Conley and big man Brandan Wright. Zach Randolph is on one leg thanks to a sprained right ankle, and the side is being led by 39 year old Vince Carter, who was the only starter in double figures for the Grizzlies, with 16, in the thrashing they copped at the hands of the Spurs in game one, 106-74. The match was an absolute slaughter after half time, the Spurs dropping 58 points to 37 after the main break. Defensive monster Kawhi Leonard was a beast at both ends, with 24 points, four steals and three blocks, while big free agent signing LaMarcus Aldridge dropped 17 to prove his worth. The Spurs swept the season series four nil, with three of those four by double figures. This series is going to end the same way. There’s no doubt that 17.5 points is a rather large handicap, but it is almost generous, considering the 32 point margin in game one.
NBA title odds
Golden State Warriors ($1.70)
Cleveland Cavaliers ($4.50)
San Antonio Spurs ($4.50)
Oklahoma City Thunder ($17)
Los Angeles Clippers ($26)
Toronto Raptors ($34)
Atlanta Hawks ($41)
Miami Heat ($67)
Boston Celtics ($81)
Charlotte Hornets ($151)
Indiana Pacers ($151)
Portland Trail Blazers ($151)
Detroit Pistons ($251)
Houston Rockets ($501)
Dallas Mavericks ($501)
Memphis Grizzlies ($501)
* Odds provided by WilliamHill.com.au
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