The Daily Sweat: Memphis and Golden State are slight road favorites Thursday night

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Is Thursday night the night where favorites won’t continue their trend of covering in the NBA playoffs?

Two of the three NBA playoff games set for Thursday have road teams favored by less than two points at BetMGM. The Memphis Grizzlies are 1.5-point favorites at the Minnesota Timberwolves, while the Golden State Warriors are 1.5-point favorites at the Denver Nuggets. After favorites went 2-1 against the spread on Wednesday night thanks to Joel Embiid’s huge three against the Raptors, the teams giving points are 16-7 against the number through the first 23 games of the playoffs.

Let’s start Thursday night in Minneapolis because that series is tied 1-1. The Timberwolves surprisingly took Game 1 of the series on Saturday before Memphis evened the series on Tuesday night.

A key for the Timberwolves will be to keep Karl Anthony Towns out of foul trouble. As you likely know, he fouled out of the Wolves’ play-in win over the Clippers and he played just 28 minutes on Tuesday as he had five fouls.

Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant (12) plays in the first half during Game 2 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series against the Minnesota Timberwolves Tuesday, April 19, 2022, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)
Memphis Grizzlies guard Ja Morant (12) plays in the first half during Game 2 of a first-round NBA basketball playoff series against the Minnesota Timberwolves Tuesday, April 19, 2022, in Memphis, Tenn. (AP Photo/Brandon Dill)

Towns also only took seven shots from the field in his 28 minutes. Both Taurean Prince and Jaden McDaniels had the same number of field goal attempts in fewer minutes. No offense to Prince and McDaniels but Towns needs to shoot more than each of them.

Minnesota was 22-18-2 at home against the spread during the regular season and that play-in game against the Clippers and the seventh-best team in the NBA against the spread at home. Memphis, meanwhile, was the top team against the spread overall and covered over 62% of the time on the road. The Grizzlies were 25-15-1 in the regular season against the spread.

The total is 236.5 and that number was topped in Game 1 while the Game 2 total didn’t come close to going over.

In Denver, the Nuggets are attempting to get back in the series after Golden State easily beat them in the first two games in San Francisco. The Warriors are slight favorites despite those easy wins, as oddsmakers have a hunch that Denver can make it a close one in Game 3 with its home-court advantage. Or that Nikola Jokic won’t get ejected again.

The MVP favorite was ejected in the second half of Game 2 after he got his second technical. Jokic has kept Denver competitive all season without Jamal Murray and Michael Porter Jr. on the court because of injuries and Denver is exceptionally overmatched without him.

Neither team is all that good against the spread in this home/away situation, however. Denver was just 15-26 at home against the spread during the regular season. Only Brooklyn — at a staggering 9-32-1 — had a worse record than the Nuggets.

The Warriors are below .500 on the road this season too. Golden State is 18-21-2 ATS in road games. One of those trends is going to have to break.

Luka Doncic’s return?

If you’re bullish on Luka Doncic being able to make his playoff debut on Thursday night then you should jump on the Mavericks against the Jazz.

Doncic is questionable for Game 3 after missing the first two games of the series with a calf strain. He could see the court for limited minutes, as the Mavs are tied 1-1 in their series with Utah and enter Game 3 as 6.5-point underdogs.

Doncic, when healthy, is the best player on the court in most of the Mavericks’ games. Dallas showed that it could beat the Jazz without him in Game 2, as Jalen Brunson went off and having him available for 25 minutes at close to a full capacity could be a tipping point for the series.

Like Denver, Utah wasn’t very good against the spread at home this season. The Jazz were just 17-22-2 at home, while Dallas has been one of the best teams on the road. The Mavericks are 24-17 ATS and seventh in the NBA in cover percentage on the road.

The game in Salt Lake City has the lowest total of the three playoff games Thursday night at 210.5.

Lots of day baseball action

You don’t have to wait until Thursday evening to get some action. There are seven MLB games between 1:10 p.m. and 4:05 p.m. ET, and the slate kicks off with the Tigers hosting the Yankees, the Giants visiting the Mets and the White Sox at the Guardians.

That Giants and Mets game is one of three with an over/under of just 7.5 runs. Anthony DeSclafani is on the hill for the Giants, while Carlos Carrasco is set to take the mound for the Mets. The total is 7.5 in Miami for the Cardinals’ visit to the Marlins and also 7.5 for the Orioles’ final game in Oakland against the A’s.

Who cashed tickets Wednesday?

Embiid got Philly a 3-0 series lead against the Raptors and covered a 1.5-point spread for the Sixers in their 114-111 OT win over Toronto. Nolan Arenado’s fifth homer of the season in the top of the ninth gave the Cardinals a 2-0 win over the Marlins. And the Bulls got a huge road win to even the series 1-1 with a 114-110 win at the Bucks.

You were also very happy if you blindly bet the under across Major League Baseball on Wednesday. Ten of the 15 games on the schedule had six runs or fewer.

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