An empty court where the NBA playoffs were set to continue on Wednesday night in the Orlando bubble

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The shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha, Wisconsin on Sunday reignited the embers still burning from the death of George Floyd just three months ago.

Once again, athletes have joined activist groups calling for justice and reform to prevent these types of occurrences from being so common in our society. On Wednesday, NBA teams started a movement that extended to other sports (including the NFL, MLB, and WNBA), all cancelling games and practices in light of the incident that has left Jacob Blake paralyzed from one of seven bullets fired into his back by a Wisconsin police officer from point blank range, one of them severing his spinal cord.

The Milwaukee Bucks were the first team to announce that they would not participate in their playoff game on Wednesday. The team addressed the media with a unified statement explaining how and why they came to their decision. George Hill and Sterling Brown acted as spokespeople for the organization, and shortly after the league made the decision to postpone all games on the schedule for that day.

Hill stated, "Over the last few days in our home state of Wisconsin, we've seen the horrendous video of Jacob Blake being shot in the back seven times by a police officer in Kenosha, and the additional shooting of protestors. Despite the overwhelming plea for change, there has been no action, so our focus today cannot be on basketball."


George Hill and Sterling Brown read Milwaukee Bucks statement after deciding not to play www.youtube.com


The NBA held an emergency Board of Governors meeting on Thursday to figure out the logistics of resuming the playoffs and determining the best course of action, if the postseason were to continue. At first, there seemed to be no guarantee that the NBA would be able to resume, as the Lakers and Clippers both voted to boycott the remainder of the season, but it appears that the NBA will resume with games beginning to be played as early as Friday August 28.

The shooting of Jacob Blake may seem to be just another story of a Black man being treated with unnecessary and deadly force by a police officer in America–but this case is more than that. Athletes taking a stand to actually sit out is a show of solidarity and, while not unprecedented, it isn't something that has happened often in history. Elle Duncan of ESPN pointed out that the last time we saw an NBA game boycotted was in 1961 when Bill Russell and a few members of the Boston Celtics refused to play in an exhibition game due to racial injustice. Fast forward 59 years, and we find the stars of the league still trying to achieve equality on many fronts.

Yet, a segment of Americans still believe that athletes have no place to speak about political or social issues–at least not publicly. In response to Wednesday's boycott, Vice President Mike Pence's chief of staff, Marc Short, stated in an interview with CNN, "If they want to protest, I don't think we care," which resonates with the infamous words of Fox News' Laura Ingraham to LeBron James: "shut up and dribble." Even some activists would prefer that athletes not use their platform to help the cause of social justice, as they think it may detract from the cause.

But the fact of the matter is that modern athletes have a platform because of their celebrity. With a single tweet, LeBron James reaches millions of people from across the globe. The NBA, for better or worse, has been very progressive in allowing its players to openly express their opinions, which has resulted in the league experiencing a surge in popularity and turning its stars into wealthy and influential people in society.

The act of boycotting games takes the attention away from the sport and places it directly on the issue that these men and women want light shed upon. A boycott means we won't have box scores to go through and highlights to retweet. We will have to ask the question, "Why aren't they playing?" In regards to the Black Lives Matter movement and achieving racial equality, athletes are a leading voice, especially for America's youth. They have the ability to reach their followers and keep momentum going to enact real change in bringing about equality for all in this country. Politicians have pushed for sports to resume and carry out their seasons amid the pandemic for seemingly no other reason than to provide a distraction from what's going on and to facilitate a sense of normalcy–in other words, to continue the status quo.

Only recently does it seem that society as a whole is asking questions like why is injustice happening? And how can we change it? In an interview on ESPN Radio, NFL Executive VP of Football Operations, Troy Vincent, was very emotional speaking about the boycotts on Wednesday. Vincent referenced how proud he was of the young athletes of today for taking a stance on social inequality, and he stated that he wished he had thought to do something similar during his playing days. Vincent went on to talk about his own (black) children and his struggle as a black father raising black sons, and his fear of them being "hunted" based on the color of their skin.

Within the sports world, Vincent's comments go a long way to show how long racial inequality has been an issue for the Black community and how even a wealthy and prominent Black man in America continues to worry for his children (ages 22, 20, and 15) out in the world where he, as a father, can't protect them.

Troy Vincent's emotional reaction to protests in the sports world | Keyshawn, JWill & Zubin www.youtube.com


As of Thursday afternoon, the NBA and other professional sports leagues appear to be on track to go on as planned, but the voices of its biggest stars and social activists will continue to be heard. It's not just players, but coaches like Gregg Popovich, Steve Kerr, and Doc Rivers, along with Kenny Smith of TNT's Inside the NBA have been vocal in their support of Black Lives Matter. Public outcry against events like the shooting of Jacob Blake only helps the cause to grow stronger, amplifying strong voices in the movement towards racial equality in America.

Stephen Curry, Golden State Warriors

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In Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Finals, Bam Adebayo's 31-point and 10-rebound double-double led the Miami Heat to a 109-103 victory over the Celtics on the road. That was followed by a dominant second-half performance by Stephen Curry and Andrew Wiggins who led the Warriors to a 3-0 lead in the Western Conference Finals.

Tonight, we'll get the first of these two matchups. Boston will look to come back in their second home game against a Heat team that is clearly not at 100% healthy. Tyler Herro has been ruled out for Game 4 while Kyle Lowry remains questionable. Here are some of the best bets for tonight's and tomorrow's big Game 4s.

Please note that all odds and lines are from FanDuel Sportsbook and were accurate at 3:30 PM EST. Be sure to check for line movement or odd changes.

ECF Game 4: Miami Heat at Boston Celtics -7 (MIA Leads 2-1)

In Game 4, the Celtics rallied back from double-digits to make things interesting in the fourth quarter. However, Boston conceded Game 3 to the Miami Heat 109-103. On Sunday, Bam Adebayo was getting everything he wanted down low. He finished with 31 points, 10 boards, six assists, four steals, and one block. Ime Udoka will need to boost the presence of his big men down low, perhaps by extending Daniel Theis’ minutes or having him share the floor more with Al Horford. The major reason for which the Heat are considered the seven-point underdogs for tonight’s game is injuries. Tyler Herro has already been ruled out for Game 4, and the Heat have four or five other players in their lineup currently listed as questionable. This includes Max Struss, Kyle Lowry, Jimmy Butler, and P.J. Tucker. Butler is dealing with knee inflammation which sidelined him for the second half of Game 3.

Even if all of the players in the Heat’s rotation are good to go tonight (outside of Herro), Boston has not lost back-to-back home games since late October. Plus, Jaylen Brown is shooting much better than he did earlier in the postseason. In fact, he’s elevated his shooting to 50% from the field through the 2021-22 playoffs through 14 games played. Expect Boston to bounce back big in Game 4, with multiple players on the Miami Heat not at full strength.

The Pick: Boston Celtics -7 (-110)

WCF Game 4: Golden State Warriors at Dallas Mavericks -1 (GSW Leads 3-0)

Well, it’s looking like the Golden State Warriors are returning to the NBA Finals. With the emergence of Jordan Poole late this season and into the postseason, Andrew Wiggins’ First-Team All-Star season, and Klay Thompson’s return to basketball, Golden State has been simply phenomenal. Golden State is simply that good this year, with anyone on the team capable of stepping up. Stephen Curry erupted in Game 3, while it was Andrew Wiggins that caught fire in the second half of Game 4. Any given night, the Warriors have one or two guys who they can count on for scoring approximately 25+ points. Considering the Mavericks' struggles this round, particularly behind the three-point line, bettors should go with the Warriors as the slight underdog. Teams get swept sometimes. Just ask the Brooklyn Nets. The Warriors will bring out the brooms and sweep the Mavericks as they punch their ticket to the NBA Finals Tuesday night.

The Pick: Golden State Warriors ML -104

NBA Player Props

Golden State Warriors at Dallas Mavericks -1 (GSW Leads 3-0)

Prop #1: Stephen Curry, Over 27.5 Points

Stephen Curry has scored 31 points and 32 points over the last two games. He’s done so by converting at least 50% from the field in each contest. It makes sense that he would score at least 28 points in a series-clinching victory tomorrow night. Curry is averaging 27.1 PPG on 45.9% this postseason but has certainly put up more points and done so more efficiently over the last few games.

Prop #2: Luka Doncic, Over 3.5 Threes

Luka has drained nine three-pointers over the last two games. He’s knocked down at least four threes in three of his last four contests. Facing elimination and hoping to not let down the home crowd in back-to-back home playoff games, Doncic will convert at least four baskets from downtown in Game 4.

Tyler Herro (Left), Bam Adebayo (Right), Miami Heat

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Jimmy Butler, Tyler Herro, Bam Adebayo, and the Miami Heat held their own against the Celtics in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Likewise, Andrew Wiggins and Stephen Curry led the Warriors to a 112-87 blowout over Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks. Tonight, the Celtics play their second game on the road against the Heat. On Friday night, the Mavericks will look to bounce back after shooting horrifically in Game 1.

Let’s take a look at the best bets for the two NBA Conference Final Game 2 matchups set for 8:30 PM EST. tonight and 9:00 PM EST. tomorrow night.

Please note that all odds and lines are from FanDuel Sportsbook and were accurate at 4:30 PM EST. Be sure to check for line movement or odd changes.

Best Bets of the Night

Game: Boston Celtics at Miami Heat -2 (MIA Leads 1-0)

After a nail-biting series with the Milwaukee Bucks that the Celtics won in grandiose fashion, Boston conceded Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals to the Miami Heat. Tonight, they play Game 2 of the series at the FTX Arena and hope to bounce back from Tuesday’s 11-point loss. One of the principal reasons for their defeat in Game 1 was the absence of Marcus Smart (foot sprain) and Al Horford (health & safety protocols). It remained a relatively close game until the third quarter in which the Celtics were outscored 14-3 to begin the second half. Derrick White filled in for Marcus Smart and was terribly inefficient from the field. He scored three points (1-4 FG) and had four assists in 29 minutes filling in for the Defensive Player of the Year. In contrast, Max Struss and Gabe Vincent did a terrific job of filling in for Kyle Lowry, combining for 28 points on 9-of-19 shooting. In addition, Tyler Herro had a good night with a pivotal 18 points (7-15 FG) off the bench. Fortunately for the Celtics, both Smart and Horford are expected to return tonight.

Head Coach Ime Udoka indicated to reporters today that Smart was probable to play this evening. Horford was cleared of health and safety protocols today making him available for tonight’s contest. For those of you who have watched the Celtics this postseason, Horford and Smart have upped their play and have been absolutely integral to the team’s success. Tonight, let’s take the Boston Celtics to take a game on the road in the same fashion that they took two road games from the Bucks in the last series.

The Pick: Boston Celtics ML +108

Tonight's Best NBA Player Props

Game: Boston Celtics at Miami Heat -2 (MIA Leads 1-0)

Prop#1: Gabe Vincent Over 9.5 Points
In Game 1 without Kyle Lowry, Gabe Vincent scored 17 points in 34 minutes on 50% shooting from the field. As Kyle Lowry is out again for Game 2 tonight, expect Vincent to score at least 10 points. Vincent has performed admirably while filling in for the veteran. Even when Lowry returns, it's quite possible that Erik Spoelstra will give some of Lowry's minutes to Vincent.
Prop#2: Al Horford Over 9.5 Points
After five straight double-digit scoring performances, Al Horford scored eight points or fewer in the last three games of the Eastern Conference Semifinals against the Bucks. He missed Game 1 of the Celtics' series against the Miami Heat after entering Health & Safety protocols. Since he was only out for one game, he shouldn't face any minute restrictions tonight. Horford should score at least 10 points in 30+ minutes on the floor.

Tomorrow Night's Best NBA Bet

Game: Dallas Mavericks at Golden State -6 (GSW Leads 1-0)

Dallas was annihilated by Golden State in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals. This comes after the Mavs blew out the Phoenix Suns on the road in impressive fashion, punching their ticket to the next round of the playoffs for a series against the Warriors. Golden State shot an impressive 56.1% from the field in the opening game and finished with 112 points. Just as important as the offensive production, Golden State clamped down on defense. The Warriors contained Luka Doncic, who converted just six of his 18 field goals on his way to 20 points. Andrew Wiggins did an excellent job guarding the young playmaker. Luka's teammates didn't help out much either as the Mavericks shot 36% from the field in Game 1, and 22.9% from downtown (11-48 3PT FG) for just 87 points on the night.

While I think the Warriors will win again on Friday night, expect the Mavericks to keep things more interesting after such an abysmal night shooting from the field. Dallas will make the adjustments needed to make this a competitive Game 2 in the Bay area.

The Pick: Dallas Mavericks +6 (-110)

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Klay Thompson, Golden State Warriors

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Klay Thompson is coming off one of his signature Game 6 performances. Thompson dropped his second-highest point total of the postseason, punching Golden State's ticket to the Western Conference Finals after defeating the Memphis Grizzlies in six games. In the elimination game, Thompson led the team with 30 points (11-22 from the field and 8-14 from beyond the arc), eight boards, two assists, and three blocks. Considering the multitude of injuries he has fought back from and the adversity he has faced, it's quite amazing that the five-time All-Star has converted at least 50% of his three-point shots in three of his last four outings. He seems to be in great form entering this pivotal series with the Mavericks.

Dallas stunned the top-seeded Phoenix Suns and reigning Western Conference champs on the road in Game 7, 123-90, and earned a trip to the Western Conference Finals. Let's see if Thompson can remain scorching hot as Stephen Curry and the Dubs host Luka Doncic and the Dallas Mavericks in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals tonight. Now, let's take a look at some of the best bets and player props to consider for tonight’s big matchup!

Please note that all odds and lines are from FanDuel Sportsbook and were accurate at 3:30 PM EST. Be sure to check for line movement or odd changes.

Best Bets of the Night

Bet #1: Golden State Warriors -5 (-110)

Following a tough loss in Game 5 to the Grizzlies despite Ja Morant’s absence from the lineup, the Warriors bounced back and closed the series at home in Game 6. They take on the Dallas Mavericks, who’ve been absolutely unbelievable on defense. Changes made to the Mavs’ rotation by Jason Kidd worked flawlessly against Chris Paul, Devin Booker, and the Suns in the previous round. One surprise for Dallas this postseason has been former New York Knicks lottery pick, Frank Ntilikina. He's a player who has stepped up immensely this postseason, especially on defense. Throughout the series, Ntilikina held Chris Paul and Devin Booker to a combined 3-of-40 shooting from the field when he guarded them.

It will be interesting to see if Jason Kidd keeps his minutes up, or perhaps increases them after what was truly an astonishing defensive performance against the Suns. Unfortunately for the Mavericks, the Golden State Warriors have four efficient scorers who will need to be contained. The Warriors will cover the spread tonight and win by more than five points on their home floor.

Bet #2: Over 214.5 Total Points (-110)

Dallas scored an impressive 123 points in Game 7, and they did so on the road. I expect them to reach at least 110 points in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals. The Warriors shot on and off throughout their series against the Memphis Grizzlies. Nonetheless, they averaged 111 PPG in their series against Memphis (666 total points scored by the Warriors over six games). Both teams play a style of basketball that stresses ball movement to find an open man beyond the arc. When Dallas or Golden State shoot 40%-45% from the field, they can score in the hundreds because of the high volume of shots they take. Dallas started taking more shots and playing at a faster pace in the second half of their series against Phoenix. By the half in Game 7, Dallas was up 57-27. In the game, the Mavericks went 19-of-39 from downtown (48.9%). Even more impressive was Dallas’ 56.8% shooting from the field. Although the Warriors are one of the best defensive teams in the league, a 214.5-point Over / Under for tonight’s game is quite low. Smash the Over.

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NBA Player Props of the Night

Prop #1: Jordan Poole Over 1.5 Threes (-174)

Jordan Poole has finally cooled down after a stretch of three 20-point games against the Grizzlies. Over the last three contests, Poole has only hit two or more three-pointers in one contest. Over those last three games, he shot a combined 3-of-17 from downtown. While Poole has been highly inefficient over the last few games, he’ll hit at least two three-pointers in Game 1 tonight. The odds of this prop reflect how likely it is to happen. Although Poole isn't seeing as high a usage rate as when Curry and Thompson were injured during the regular season, Poole should still see plenty of open looks in the 25+ minutes he should log tonight. Given that Dallas will most likely try to stop Curry and Thompson from beating them, Poole should see a few wide-open looks. He will knock down at least two from deep range tonight.

Prop #2: Klay Thompson Over 20.5 Points (-112)

Klay Thompson has averaged just about 20.5 points since he came back this regular season. Throughout the postseason, he’s played strong and for the most part, been efficient from the field. Through 11 games in this postseason, Thompson is averaging 20.4 PPG on 45% shooting from the field. I like him to hit the over here in his first Western Conference Final matchup in three years. After getting his swagger back and dropping 30 points to eliminate the Grizzlies last round, Thompson should have all. the confidence in the world heading into Game 1 in the bay.

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