The No. 1 seeds have shared fairly parallel postseason journeys so far. The Bucks lost Game 1. The Lakers lost Game 1. The Bucks won four straight. The Lakers won four straight. Even when the Bucks decided not to play after the shooting of Jacob Blake, the Lakers were one of the teams that would have preferred to end the season.
Will that ultimately impact what happens on Tuesday? No. There is no direct link. But the two teams had quite a bit in common entering the playoffs. They were both No. 1 seeds that dominated the regular season but had serious vulnerabilities that certain teams could exploit. The Miami Heat have exploited Milwaukee's deficiencies to the tune of a 3-1 series lead. The Houston Rockets have given the Lakers all they can handle through two games. It should surprise few to hear, then, that Tuesday's best bets predict identical fates for the top seeds tonight. The Lakers will go down. The Bucks will get knocked out.
All lines via William Hill Sportsbook
Miami Heat vs. Milwaukee Bucks: Heat -2.5
The Bucks won Game 4 with a small-ball approach that the Heat were unprepared for. With two days to adjust, Miami will be ready if they go to it again. And if Giannis Antetokounmpo is back? The Heat have a three-game track record of beating the Bucks at full strength. Miami is the better team right now, and should be at full strength, barring Jae Crowder's availability after tweaking his ankle in Game 4. They'll finish this series off on Tuesday.
Los Angeles Lakers vs. Houston Rockets: Rockets +5
The Rockets got only 37 points from James Harden and Russell Westbrook in Game 2. They averaged 61.5 during the regular season. Some of that was by design. The Lakers trapped Harden aggressively to get the ball out of his hands, but it led to a level of 3-point shooting that the Lakers will likely try to prevent in Game 3. Westbrook's 10-point outing, however, is far less likely to recur. As bad a shooter as he is, he probably isn't going to go 1 for 8 outside of the restricted area again, especially with the Lakers sagging off him as much as they are. Expect a better outing from Houston's stars Tuesday.
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Los Angeles Lakers vs. Houston Rockets: Under 224
Game 2 hit 226 total points Sunday, but it relied on completely unsustainable shooting. The Lakers and Rockets combined for 34 total 3-pointers, the most of any Lakers playoff games so far. There are not many absolute truths in this world, but here is one of them: Markieff Morris is not going to go 4 for 4 from behind the arc in the fourth quarter twice in one series. There are possible positive regression candidates elsewhere, but if shooting regresses even slightly, this is a clear under. After all, if the Lakers and Rockets had made one fewer 3 on Sunday, that game would have fallen below this total as well.