NBA betting: Nuggets are slight favorites and the Nets' 'Big Three' are back

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The NBA playoffs start Saturday.

Blazers at Nuggets (-1) — Total: 227.5

The series we are most excited about is the sixth-seeded Portland Trail Blazers vs. the third-seeded Denver Nuggets. Host Denver is only a slight favorite with a total of 227.5. MVP favorite Nikola Jokic doesn't seem to be getting much respect in the market, and we like his chemistry with Michael Porter Jr. and Aaron Gordon. Yes, Portland has been playing well, winning 10 of 12 to end the season, but that doesn't mean much to us. Year-end motivations vary team-to-team and momentum like that means very little in the playoffs. We'll be on the Nuggets on Saturday night but are staying away from the total. The Nuggets were 27th in pace this past season and the Blazers ranked 19th. Fewer possessions means fewer points. But, both teams are top six in offensive efficiency. A lot of variables there.

Celtics at Nets (-8) — Total: 230.5

The high-profile matchup Saturday night is the second-seeded Brooklyn Nets vs. the seventh-seeded Boston Celtics. The Nets will have Kevin Durant, James Harden and Kyrie Irving for one of the few times this season. Will they need more time to jell? Harden only played two games near the end of the season after dealing with a hamstring strain. The Nets are favored by eight and that seems about right. We like the total to go over 230.5. The Nets won't play a lick of defense, but no one will be able to stop them from scoring.

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