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Closing The Door: NBA Play-In Tournament to Conclude Friday

A look at the final two NBA Play-In Games

After four exciting games, players and fans alike have come to the same conclusion. The play-in tournament is a success and should be here to stay. The Brooklyn Nets and Minnesota Timberwolves punched their tickets as the #7 seeds. And the New Orleans Pelicans and Atlanta Hawks showed that they can win high-pressure games at home. With two games remaining on the slate, let’s take a look at the odds, as seen in Tipico Sportsbook.

#9 Hawks @ #8 Cavs: ATL -2.5

As of Thursday morning, the Hawks are listed as 2.5-point betting favorites against the Cavaliers, despite serving as the road team. Despite Trae Young beginning the game shooting 3-13 from the floor, he found his rhythm, and the team was able to cruise to a 29-point win over the Hornets. This point spread is subject to change, depending on what the status of Cleveland big man Jarrett Allen winds up being.

Cleveland has been leaning heavily on their starting point guard Darius Garland, a prime candidate to win the NBA’s Most-Improved Player award. He dazzled with a 30-point outing against Brooklyn, in what wound up being a narrow loss for the Cavs. They got strong performances off the bench from Rajon Rondo and Kevin Love, but it wasn’t enough.

Whoever wins this game gets to battle the #1 seeded Miami Heat as a reward. As for the CLE-ATL battle, it likely boils down to which point guard can rise to the occasion when their team needs them most. Gotham needs a hero. Who will it be?

#9 Pelicans @ #8 Clippers: LAC -3.5

One of the best NBA players over the last several weeks, CJ McCollum stepped up again for the Pels, helping them to a 10-point win over the Spurs on Wednesday night. New Orleans had their largest and loudest crowd of the season and made sure that the fans went home happy. They began the year 3-16 but find themselves just one victory away from the actual postseason. And that’s with Zion Williamson playing zero games, and the team being 8-19 without Brandon Ingram.

On the other side, we have the Los Angeles Clippers. The fact that they were able to keep a winning record despite Paul George missing 50 consecutive games in the middle of the season is astounding. A squad is only as good as the sum of its parts, and that makes L.A. a special bunch. Guys like Ivica Zubac, Reggie Jackson, Luke Kennard, and Marcus Morris have stepped up all season. And the additions of Robert Covington and Norman Powell give them a deep bench.

The current spread is set at Clippers -3.5, but the line could shift before if the Pelicans get a lot of action. Both teams want this badly, though they will have to play the mighty Phoenix Suns in that opening round.

One thing is for sure. This game is not lacking star power, and it will be a dog fight to the end.



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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