NBA playoff field gets finalized Friday

The NBA playoff field will be officially set Friday night.

Atlanta visits Cleveland to play for the final spot in the Eastern Conference (7:30 pm ET, ESPN) while New Orleans visits the Los Angeles Clippers for the final spot in the West (10 pm ET, TNT).

The Hawks are favored by 2.5 points at BetMGM over the Cavaliers and the total for that game is 222.5. Atlanta won the regular-season series 3-1 over the Cavaliers though it’s been one of the worst teams against the spread this year. After covering against Charlotte in the No. 9 vs. No. 10 play-in game, Atlanta is 38-45 against the spread.

Cleveland is 43-46-4 ATS so far this year after overachieving relative to its preseason expectations while Atlanta underachieved. The Cavs made a big leap this season though they faded down the stretch, thanks to injuries.

Jarrett Allen, one of the Cavs’ key injured players, is going to attempt to play Friday night. The big man has been sidelined with a broken finger since March 6 and his return di lui will be pivotal, especially on the glass. Allen is the team’s second-leading scoring at 16.1 points per game in the regular season and grabbed 10.8 rebounds.

If Allen plays he won’t be going up against the Hawks’ John Collins. He’s been out since March 11 because of a finger injury and a foot injury.

Out West, the Clippers are favored by 3.5 points after getting outscored by 11 in the fourth quarter by Minnesota in their loss to the Timberwolves on Tuesday night. The Pelicans beat the Spurs on Wednesday. The total is a paltry 214.5.

The Clippers have been 40-42-1 against the spread this year while New Orleans is 42-40-1. That’s basically a draw over the course of the season.

It will be fascinating to see how the Clippers attack a New Orleans team that’s been at its best while playing with both Jonas Valanciunas and Jaxson Hayes on the court at the same time with Brandon Ingram on the wing and CJ McCollum as the lead guard. Los Angeles eliminated the Jazz from the playoffs a year ago by going small and it’ll be unsurprising if the Clips try a variation of that against New Orleans’ big men.

Home teams went 3-1 in the first four play-in games this week and the under hit in all four. The totals have been adjusted as a result of that. All four of the first play-in games had higher totals than Friday night’s games, and bettors like both the Hawks and Clippers to cover.

We think the home teams are going to go 1-1 on Friday night. If Atlanta plays anything like it did against Charlotte, it should have no problem with the Cavaliers. And the Clippers’ experience should be key late in the game against the Pelicans. We’re going with a Clippers win straight up at -175 and over 214.5 points.

Full MLB slate

It’s a great Friday to bet on baseball if you haven’t gotten into the swing of things so far this season. And you can get started early. The Diamondbacks and Mets start at 1:10 pm ET and the Twins and Red Sox are at 2:10 pm ET.

If you’re new to baseball betting you may notice that every game has a spread of 1.5 runs. That’s not an accident – the real value is in the odds given on the spread. For example, the Mets are -105 as a 1.5-run favorite. The Red Sox, meanwhile, are -185 as a 1.5-run underdog. Pay close attention to the juice when you’re placing a bet.

Crowded golf board

There are five players at +1100 or better to win the RBC Heritage after the first round. Cam Young shot an 8-under 63 to lead Joaquin Niemann by two strokes. Niemann is +800 to win the tournament after the first day alongside Patrick Cantlay. Young is at +850 and Shane Lowry is at +900. Corey Conners had an ace on Thursday and he’s at +1100 to win.

Who cashed tickets Thursday?

The Brewers took care of the Cardinals with a 5-1 win on Thursday behind a strong performance from Brandon Woodruff. The Yankees shut out the Blue Jays 3-0 and made under bettors happy. Over bettors were thrilled with the Rangers’ 10-5 win over the Angels as bettors who backed LA and Shohei Ohtani were very disappointed. The Padres demolished the Braves 12-1.

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