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All times Eastern, and all odds via Caesars Sportsbook
🔥 The Hot Ticket
- The Pick: Lakers +4.5 (-110)
- Key Trend: The Lakers are 5-2 ATS in the last seven meetings.
If you would've told me that the Lakers would be in this position a few months ago, I would've told you that you were crazy. Instead, the Lakers are fresh off of eliminating the No. 2 seed Grizzlies. I'm trusting them to keep things close in Game 1 against the Warriors.
The Lakers have done pretty well against the defending NBA champions this season. They've been victorious in two of the three matchups and have a 2-1 record ATS vs. the Warriors. It's worth noting that the Lakers fell, 123-109, in the season opener back on Oct. 18, but that was the only showdown in which the team still had Russell Westbrook on its roster.
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Since making a wide array of moves at the trade deadline, the Lakers have looked like a completely different team. Guys like Rui Hachimura, Jarred Vanderbilt and Austin Reaves have really rose to the occasion down the stretch. That's why I'm counting on the Lakers to at least keep it close -- though an outright win isn't completely off the table.
💰 More Picks
Panthers at Maple Leafs, 9:30 p.m. | TV: ESPN
The Pick: Maple Leafs (-165) -- The Panthers did the unthinkable and eliminated the top-seeded Bruins in the opening round of the Stanley Cup Playoffs. Even considering how impressive the Panthers' accomplishment was, I'm fading them in this spot.
That's because the Panthers are going to run into a juggernaut in the Maple Leafs. The Maple Leafs exercised their postseason demons by defeating the Lightning in six games and won their first playoff series since 2004 in the process. It's been well-documented how dangerous Toronto's offense has been all year, with star forward Mitch Marner leading the way.
However, the play of Maple Leafs goaltender Ilya Samsonov is going to be paramount to the team's success. He's coming off a spectacular performance in which he stopped 31 of the 32 shots that he faced against the Lightning in a winner-take-all scenario. I'm expecting Samsonov to have another big game and the Maple Leafs offense to continue to do what they do.
Key Trend: The Panthers are 2-9 in their last 11 meetings in Toronto
Lakers at Warriors, 10 p.m. | TV: TNT
The Pick: Stephen Curry Under 4.5 Threes (+120) -- Listen, I know what you're thinking. Betting against arguably the greatest shooter in NBA history in a made threes prop may seem insane. However, if you look at the numbers closely, it's really not all that crazy.
Like I wrote earlier ,the Lakers and Warriors went head-to-head on three occasions during the 2022-23 regular season. Curry played in two of those contests and missed one due to injury. The Warriors star connected on just 4-of-13 attempts from beyond the arc on Oct. 18 in the regular season opener. On March 5, Curry splashed home 5-of-13 attempts from long-range. Over the course of his NBA career, Curry only drills 3.0 threes per contest when facing the Lakers.
It's certainly going to be close, but I'm willing to trust the trends here.
Key Trend: Curry has hit four or fewer threes in one of his last two meetings against the Lakers