The 2020 NBA Playoffs continue Friday with four exciting matchups that could end up being the pivotal contest in their respective series. Because these are all Game 3’s, there is a chance for two of the teams in action today to effectively put their opponent away by going up 3-0, while the other squads in action will vie to break their 1-1 deadlocks in what are now effectively best-of-five series.
If you are seeking out picks and predictions for these 2020 NBA Playoff games, then look no further as pro handicapper Jon Price of SportsInformationTraders.com has you covered. The Vegas expert has sent along his leans for Friday’s contests and you will not want to miss who he has covering the spread. Before getting to those predictions, take a look at the complete schedule and viewing guide to today’s action, which includes the tip-off times, TV channels, live stream sites and updated odds for each matchup. You can also find the latest 2020 NBA Playoff bracket and standings, plus scores from yesterday’s postseason games.
2020 NBA Playoffs – Friday, Aug. 21 Viewing Guide
Toronto Raptors vs. Brooklyn Nets
Start Time: 1:30 p.m. ET
Watch (TV): NBA TV
Live Stream: WatchESPN
Spread: Raptors -11
Total: Over/Under 220.5 points
Moneyline: Toronto -660, Brooklyn +480
The Raptors have a chance to all but punch their ticket to the second round when they start things off at 1:30 p.m. EST against the Nets. Toronto—the No. 2 seed in the East—narrowly escaped with a victory in Game 2 on Wednesday, clamping down defensively to end any hopes of an upset for a severely undermanned Brooklyn squad. The Raptors are in position to put the No. 7 seed on the ropes with another “W”, as no team in the history of the NBA Playoffs has managed to come back from an 0-3 deficit in a best-of-seven series and it’s unlikely that these Nets would be the first to do so by winning four straight against the defending champions. It’s worth noting that Brooklyn is the largest underdog of the day, getting 11 points against the spread in Game 3, so the Nets will have their work cut out trying to claw back into this series.
Pick: Raptors -11
Prediction: No. 2 Toronto Raptors 115, No. 7 Brooklyn Nets 99
Denver Nuggets vs. Utah Jazz
Start Time: 4 p.m. ET
Watch (TV): TNT
Live Stream: WatchTNT
Spread: Nuggets -1.5
Total: Over/Under 219 points
Moneyline: Denver -120, Utah +100
The Western Conference series are shaping up to be a bit more competitive than their Eastern counterparts. The Nuggets and Jazz will both be looking to gain an advantage and break the 1-1 series deadlock when their Game 3 clash tips off at 4 p.m. ET. Each squad has notched a double-digit to open the first round, with Utah falling 135-125 in a Game 1 overtime thriller before recovering to fell Denver by a 124-105 margin in Game 2. The Jazz were locked in from beyond the arc in that matchup, draining 20 three-point shots to draw even in the series. Jazz star Donovan Mitchell has been electrifying during the 2020 NBA Playoffs, totaling up an eye-popping 87 points through his first two games, including a 57-point explosion in the opener that ranks as the third-highest scoring total in postseason history. The Nuggets will need to key their defense in on stopping the third-year guard if they want to avoid losing back-to-back contests, something that is far easier said than done. Bookmakers have faith in Denver, however, penciling the club in as slight, 1.5-point favorites today.
Pick: Jazz +100
Prediction: No. 6 Utah Jazz 112, No. 3 Denver Nuggets 110
Boston Celtics vs. Philadelphia 76ers
Start Time: 6:30 p.m. ET
Watch (TV): TNT
Live Stream: WatchTNT
Spread: Celtics -5.5
Total: Over/Under 217.5 points
Moneyline: Boston -220, Philadelphia +180
The Celtics are also primed to pull away in their first-round showdown with the Sixers after they demoralized their Atlantic Division rival earlier this week. Boston picked up a 128-101 win to go up 2-0 in the series and it seems highly unlikely that the 76ers will be able to recover from that brutal defeat when Game 3 begins at 6:30 p.m. ET. Philly’s players appeared devoid of energy and couldn’t get a spark on offense without star guard Ben Simmons, who suffered a knee injury during the seeding games at the Orlando bubble and is likely out for the remainder of the season. While the C’s aren’t fully healthy either—they won’t have forward Gordon Hayward back for at least a month—the East’s No. 3 seed are favored by 5.5 points in Game 3, with 80% of all bets and 98% of cash wagered against the spread on the side to cover.
Pick: Celtics -5.5
Prediction: No. 3 Boston Celtics 118, No. 6 Philadelphia 76ers 107
Los Angeles Clippers vs. Dallas Mavericks
Start Time: 9 p.m. ET
Watch (TV): TNT
Live Stream: WatchTNT
Spread: Clippers -5
Total: Over/Under 231.5 points
Moneyline: Los Angeles -220, Dallas +180
Friday’s slate of 2020 NBA Playoff games concludes at 9 p.m. ET when the Dallas Mavericks and Los Angeles Clippers meet in a crucial Game 3. The Mavs stunned the West’s No. 2 seed on Wednesday by pulling off a 127-114 upset as seven-point underdogs. Dallas’ second-year sensation Luka Doncic continued his ascent to superstardom with a 28-point, eight-rebound, seven-assist performance in just 28 minutes of play. Doncic now has a total of 70 points in his first two career postseason games, a figure that trails only George Mikan’s 75 points during his 1949 NBA Playoff debut. Mavericks coach Rick Carlisle was happy his players were able to experience a victory on Wednesday, but is concerned that they’ll be vulnerable to defeat tonight (via ESPN):
We took a step tonight in the right direction. It’s important to feel what winning feels like, but we’re also up against the human nature curve, which is always tough after you win a playoff game. Even in a situation like this where there’s no fans in the building, you get an exuberant feeling, and you can’t let human nature get the best of you. We’ve got our work cut out for us. It’s now a five-game series.
The Clippers are still the team to beat in this series, with oddsmakers installing them as five-point chalk for Game 3. The public is split on this matchup more than any other today, evidenced by exactly 50% of the tickets being on each side of the spread. Los Angeles has the slight edge with the sharp bettors, garnering 53% of the total cash wagered on the contest. It is hardly a surprise given the star power on the Clips roster, with Kawhi Leonard and Paul George serving as two of the best players the league has to offer. Leonard, the reigning Finals MVP, has been locked in for the series—putting up 64 points so far—but George had an off night in Game 2, hitting just four of his 17 shots in a 14-point outing. If he is able to turn things around and get back to his Game 1 form, a contest in which he chipped in 27 points on 10-of-22 shooting, the Clippers will be much more difficult to best.
Pick: Mavericks +5
Prediction: No. 2 Los Angeles Clippers 117, No. 7 Dallas Mavericks 114
2020 NBA Playoff Bracket And Standings
NBA Playoff Scores And Highlights – Thursday, Aug. 20
No. 5 Miami Heat 109, No. 4 Indiana Pacers 100
No. 4 Houston Rockets 111, No. 4 Oklahoma City Thunder 98
No. 1 Milwaukee Bucks 111, No. 8 Orlando Magic 96
No. 1 Los Angeles Lakers 111, No. 8 Portland Trail Blazers 88