The last two days have seen both No. 1 seeds, a No. 2 seed and a No. 3 seed lose a first-round game. For the one round of the postseason that almost universally goes chalk, this sort of randomness should concern bettors to an extent. The bubble has seemingly decreased the gap between the best and worst teams in the playoff field.
But it's worth remembering: these are individual games. Randomness can happen in any single game. The Toronto Raptors lost Game 1 of their first-round series to the Orlando Magic last postseason. They swept them the rest of the way and won the championship. The Los Angeles Clippers and Houston Rockets both won two games against the Golden State Warriors, but nobody in their right mind would suggest that made them equals. These series won't necessarily be walkovers, but randomness was at the center of most of the upsets of the past few days. Trust those teams to regress to the mean. Here are Thursday's best bets
All lines via William Hill Sportsbook
Miami Heat vs. Indiana Pacers: Over 215
The Heat and Pacers reached 214 points in Game 1, but the path they took there was somewhat unsustainable. Victor Oladipo only scored four points. Only two Pacers reached double figures. Duncan Robinson went only 2 for 8 from behind the arc. There are just too many areas in which a pop or two pushes this total over the edge to credibly take the under. The leading Pacers' scorer had 22 points. Realistically, that's going to fall closer to 30 most nights.
So who wins Pacers vs. Heat? And which side of the spread hits in over 50 percent of simulations? Visit SportsLine now to see which side of the Heat vs. Pacers spread to jump on, all from the advanced model that is up over $4,700 on its top-rated NBA picks this season, and find out.
Houston Rockets vs. Oklahoma City Thunder: Rockets -2.5
Chris Paul padded his stats in the fourth quarter, but Game 1 was evidence of something that should have been obvious coming into this series: This is a terrible matchup for CP3. Paul's pick-and-roll game relies on hunting for big men, either in switches where he can blow by them or in drop coverage where he can pull up for easy mid-range looks. The Rockets don't have big men for him to hunt, and as Paul goes, the Thunder go.
Orlando Magic vs. Milwaukee Bucks: Under 227.5
Give the Magic credit. Their game plan was brilliant in their Game 1 upset. The Bucks like to drop their big men into the paint, so Orlando told their bigs to fire away from behind the arc. Gary Clark Jr., who took 60 3-pointers all season, attempted 12 in Game 1. Nikola Vucevic tried eight. It was a brilliant maneuver, but it's entirely correctable. Giannis Antetokounmpo is more than capable of defending the perimeter, and if he needs to move to center, the Magic aren't going to punish him for it. Milwaukee has offensive issues to work through right now, but Orlando's gambit isn't going to pay off twice in a row. The Milwaukee defense will be fine in Game 2.
Los Angeles Lakers vs. Portland Trail Blazers: Lakers -6.5
The Lakers' defense held the Blazers to only 100 points in Game 1, but the Lakers offense is what ultimately held the Lakers to only 93. Portland gave them open shot after open shot, bu the Lakers just couldn't make them. No team is bad enough to go 5 of 32 from behind the arc consistently. It was bad luck, and it is going to be corrected in Game 2. The Blazers weren't exactly lucky themselves offensively, but playing one of the NBA's best defenses tends to make an offense look worse. What happened to them is far more sustainable than what happened to the Lakers.