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NBA Betting Guide: Thursday 5/3/18

The Celtics are once again home underdogs versus the Sixers despite running away with the series opener. According to our models, how will Game 2 play out?

numberFire has built comprehensive algorithms to pinpoint the bets with the highest probability of returning money, whether you are betting on the total, a line, or moneyline. For those new to numberFire, we use a five-star system to show which bets you should be targeting on any given night. Stars represent how much you should risk on a wager relative to what you would normally bet.

For example, if you would normally bet $110 to win $100 on a -110 spread wager, if we give a 3-star ranking, we suggest risking three times that amount: $330 to win $300.

Using our models as a guide, let's take a look at two of the best bets for Thursday.

Please note that lines are subject to change throughout the day after this article is published. Please check here to make sure you're seeing the most updated information.

Philadelphia 76ers at Boston Celtics

Celtics +4.5 (5-Star Rating out of 5)

When will people learn to stop underestimating Brad Stevens-coached teams? The Boston Celtics were 5.0-point underdogs against the Philadelphia 76ers in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals, but they started to pull away midway through the second quarter and ended up winning by a comfortable 16-point margin at home.

Despite this, Boston once again enters as 4.5-point underdogs. Our models indicate that Vegas is not giving the men in green the credit they deserve. This should not really come as a surprise. The Celtics have been home underdogs seven times during the 2017-18 season. In those games, they are 6-1 straight up and 7-0 against the spread (ATS). They are 6-0 ATS in their past six games and are 4-1 both straight up and ATS when they play the Sixers this season.

Boston is 11-6-1 ATS this season as underdogs at any location when the total is set lower than 210.

The Sixers, on the other hand, are 2-5 ATS when they are road favorites with a total less than 210. They have an implied total of 105 points tonight. That doesn't bode well for them. They are just 11-20 this season when scoring 105 points or fewer and 11-19-1 ATS in those games.

Given these trends, it should be no surprise that our models like Boston in this one. We give them a 61.06% chance of winning outright and a 71.84% chance of covering the 4.5-point spread, making this a five-star bet.

Cleveland Cavaliers at Toronto Raptors

Over 212.5 (2-Star Rating out of 5)

The Cleveland Cavaliers will look to take a 2-0 series lead against the Toronto Raptors as the two teams face off in the Air Canada Centre. Toronto looked to have Game 1 in hand early, ending the first quarter up 14. One should never count out LeBron, however. The King led the Cavs to a huge 38-point second quarter, pulling the halftime deficit to just three points. Cleveland went on to win in overtime.

Cleveland is now 3-1 against the Raptors this season and 10-2 against them dating back to last year, including a 5-0 record in the playoffs. LeBron had scored at least 35 points against Toronto in their previous four playoff contests, so his 26 points seemed tame by that comparison. Of course, he finished the game with a triple-double, so if you want to say I'm splitting hairs, you'd be spot on. He is the reason Cleveland won -- hands down.

The two teams have loved to run against each other this season. They've combined for no fewer than 218 points in any of their four matchups, averaging a robust 234 points, 12 points above the average total for their matchups. The over is 12-1 in the Cavs' last 13 games when they are coming off a win and are playing on the road against a team that is coming off of an overtime game, according to Killer Sports. Say that 10 times fast.

We like the over in Game 2. Our models give the two teams a 61.86% chance of besting the 212.5 total this evening.

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