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Setting The Stage: NBA Play-In Tournament Set to Start Tuesday

Previewing the four initial games of the 2022 NBA Play-In Tournament

For the third year in a row, the NBA is going to have a play-in tournament to determine the final qualifying teams for the playoffs. And for the second year in a row, it will feature battles for both the seven and eight seed. The winner of the 7-8 game will automatically qualify for the postseason, taking the 7-seed. The loser of that game will then play the winner of the 9-10 game, and the winner of the eventual showdown secures the 8th spot in their respective conference. Two games on Tuesday, Wednesday, and Friday. Let’s break it down.

#8 Cavs @ #7 Nets:

The first game of the tournament will be played at 7:00 PM ET and feature the Cavaliers heading to Brooklyn to face the Nets. The teams got together on Friday night, and monster nights from Kevin Durant and Bruce Brown were able to guide Brooklyn into the win column.

Now that they will be meeting again, the teams have a sense of what to expect out of the other. Cleveland’s advantage lies in the playmaking and scoring ability of Darius Garland, and length of their front-court. Whereas Brooklyn gets scoring whenever it wants from the combination of Kyrie Irving and Kevin Durant, in addition to spreading the floor with three-point shooters.

The line is currently* set at BKN -7.5. This is sure to be a must-see game, both teams giving it their all, trying to lock up a playoff series with the Boston Celtics.

#8 Clippers @ #7 Timberwolves:

Despite finishing four games back of Minnesota during the regular season, the Clippers stack up well with their opponent here. This game is slated for a 9:30 PM ET tip-off on Tuesday night, following Nets vs Cavs.

The 42-40 record of the Clippers shows little about the kind of year they had. Paul George missed several months, and Kawhi Leonard did not play in a single game. The depth of the team came into focus, and mid-season acquisitions of Norman Powell and Robert Covington could propel them through this one, and into the #7 seed, a date with Memphis. They won their final five regular season games.

On the other end, the young core of D’Angelo Russell, Karl-Anthony Towns and Anthony Edwards put it all together this year, helping them to a 46-36 record. Patrick Beverley will face his former team in a must-win game for the first time in a long time.

In what promises to be a battle, the line is currently* set at MIN -2.5

#10 Hornets @ #9 Hawks:

It will be tough to see either Atlanta or Charlotte sent home after just one game. Both squads have talented young point guards in LaMelo Ball and Trae Young, both trying to continue to prove the doubters wrong. The winner here gets the loser of Cavs-Nets in a battle to try and get the #8 seed.

Charlotte has been led by Ball, as well as Terry Rozier and the vastly improved Miles Bridges. The team has a lot of young talent and is hoping to showcase it on the big stage. They have not won a playoff series as a franchise since the 2001-02 season.

As for Atlanta, the play-in comes as a surprise. They started slow this season, following a campaign that saw them make it all the way to the Eastern Conference Finals. But if they have Trae, they have a chance.

The line is currently* set at ATL -4.5

#10 Spurs @ #9 Pelicans

In what might be the final game for Gregg Popovich as the coach of the Spurs, San Antonio will certainly have a chance. They got their All-Star PG Dejounte Murray back and have a lot of guys that can step up when the pressure is ratcheted up.

As for the Pelicans, their midseason lineup tweaks, combined with the acquisition of CJ McCollum have propelled them here. They still need two wins to make the postseason, but since starting 1-12, they have gone 35-34. Pretty much a .500 team. They have good size up front with Jaxson Hayes and Jonas Valanciunas and have gotten some great coaching from first-year man Willie Green.

The spread for this game is currently* set at NO -5.5.

* = SUBJECT TO CHANGE

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THE INSIDE EDGE

by Danny Scaramella - Tipico

BETFTW! On Site Divisional Round

Lorenzo's Locks: Divisional Round Games

The Green Bay Packers are coming off their first round bye and are the healthiest they have been all season long. Aaron Rodgers is surgical at home, especially when coming off a bye. Now although the 49ers have been red-hot in recent play, their two best defenders, Bosa and Warner, were injured vs the Cowboys and may be slowed down against Green Bay. The Packers also went 7-1 against the spread this season at home. Lorenzo is locking in the Packers and the spread. Onto the AFC, Lorenzo likes the Buffalo Bills in an upset. Buffalo played their most complete game of the entire season last week against New England. The Bills have been clicking on all cylinders and are 4-1 against the spread over their last five. Their offense is comparable with Kansas City's and Buffalo has the edge on defense. The Chiefs have been unreliable at home, while the Bills excel on the road as underdogs. Lorenzo is locking int the Bills to win and to cover the spread. The Los Angeles Rams vs Tampa Bay Buccaneers has everything in the making for an offensive showdown. Tom Brady knows how to pick apart defenses and with the Rams electric offense, Lorenzo sees this game as a shootout. In week 3, the Rams beat the Bucs and 58 points were scored. Although Lorenzo likes the Bucs in this matchup, he is locking in the OVER in total points scored.

BETFTW! On Site Wild Card Weekend

The AFC Wild Card game on Saturday, January 8th features the New England Patriots traveling to Buffalo to take on the Bills. We all remember what happened the last time these two faced off in Buffalo. New England has cooled down after their mid-season hot streak, winning only one of their last four, including a Week 18 loss to the Miami Dolphins. This season, New Englands holds a better record against the spread than the Buffalo Bills. Bills beat reporter Sal Maiorana highlights the rubber match and game three between these two teams this weekend. Weather will continue to be a factor in their matchups. This has the chance to be one of the coldest games in Bills and Patriots history, and even close to league history. Wind chills are expected to be 10 to 15 degrees below zero. So who will this favor? The Patriots took advantage of the wind in their first matchup against Buffalo and pulled off the win. Then Buffalo's offense took control and came out with a win in Foxboro. If the wind is manageable, Maiorana expects a great game for Josh Allen. Josh Allen is the X-factor. The last time these two teams faced, Allen lit up the Patriots for three touchdowns and over 300 yards. If the Bills can contain the running game and make Mac Jones be a true quarterback, Maiorana thinks Buffalo can handle their business and move on to the divisional round.

By Danny Scaramella - Tipico

Lorenzo's Locks: Wild Card Weekend

The Playoffs are here and Lorenzo isn't taking any chances against Tom Brady. The Bucs continue to have one of the top scoring offenses in the NFL, with Tom Brady locked in. The Eagles have also been hot as of late, closing out the season winning six of their final eight games, but the competition they played was incredibly weak. Some of their wins came against the Jets, Giants, and two against Washington. The Eagles secondary is also weak and Tom Brady will look to expose their defense. Since Brady joined Tampa Bay, the Bucs are 9-5 against the spread at home. Lorenzo likes the Bucs winning and covering the spread. The hottest team in the NFC down the stretch, may have been the 49ers. In their final 11 games, San Francisco went post an 8-3 record in wins and against the spread. Although Dallas likes to establish the run early, the 49ers are built to stop the run. Their pass-rush generated 24 sacks in the last six games of the season and will look to pressure Dak Prescott early. If the 49ers can avoid turnovers, Lorenzo sees them covering the spread and upsetting the Cowboys in Dallas. Finally, a divisional matchup to play each other for the third time this season. The Rams face the Cardinals with two electric offenses taking the field. The Rams have showed inconsistencies with their superstar lineup and haven't lived up to their expectations. The Cardinals are great on the road as underdogs and Lorenzo sees this game coming down to the wire and decided by less than a field goal. He predicts the Rams to win, but the Cardinals to cover.

By Danny Scaramella - Tipico

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