Brian Scalabrine: NBA champion on the play-in tournament and his best bets for Tuesday and Wednesday
I’m Brian Scalabrine, 11-year NBA vet and member of the world champion 2008 Boston Celtics. Moving forward I’ll be writing regular columns here at Pickswise, giving my thoughts on the NBA betting market. It’s been a busy week in the association, and there’s a lot to digest.
Today we’ll be talking about all things play-in tournament. The Cavaliers and Nets will get things started on Tuesday, with Timberwolves/Clippers serving as the nightcap. Then on Wednesday the Hawks will host the Hornets and the Pelicans will take on the Spurs. I’m going to break down the game I’m most excited about on each day, with a best bet for each.
Tuesday: Cavaliers at Nets, Nets -8.5
All eyes are on the Brooklyn Nets during this tournament. We are going to learn a lot about the Nets in this one. Can they turn up their defense? Can the rest of the guys make open shots when Kevin Durant gets double-teamed? We all know KD is the best player in the world, but can the role players step up in the fourth quarter and make shots at a high enough clip to make up for their defensive liabilities?
Unfortunately for Cleveland, those questions can mostly be swept under the rug for now because Durant is just so damn good. Nobody on the Cavs can stop him. As a matter of fact, nobody in the NBA can stop him. If Jarrett Allen had returned for the Cavs I would have expected this to be a close game down the stretch. His presence is that important.
But with Allen now ruled out with his finger injury, I don’t see it. Cleveland is limping into the postseason after a rough end to the year. This game will be close until the third quarter but the Nets will end up covering the -8.5 point spread.
Be sure to check out our full game preview for Cleveland Cavaliers vs Brooklyn Nets
Wednesday: Hornets at Hawks, Hawks -5
Looking at Wednesday’s slate, Hornets vs Hawks jumps out as the clear top attraction. Atlanta can be a dangerous team in the play-in and potentially beyond. Trae Young is made for big moments and they can score at a high clip. But can the Hawks defend at a high enough level to win two games and get into the actual playoffs?
It all depends on what Young wants to do. The darling of the NBA playoffs last year had a special offensive season as he led the league in total points and total assists. That shows both dominance and durability. He hasn’t shown any signs of slowing down offensively and the Hawks are a fun team on that side of the ball.
I really like the Hornets but I feel that without Gordon Hayward, they’re missing that glue guy. Charlotte is more than capable of scoring 130 points in any game they play, but can they value the basketball and play disciplined enough to win an elimination game? I say no. Trae Young out-duels LaMelo Ball and the Hawks cover the -5 point spread.
Be sure to check out our full game preview for Charlotte Hornets vs Atlanta Hawks