The Warriors lived up to their nickname yesterday, battling back against the Spurs to force overtime and eventually winning to keep their hopes of advancing alive. They will head to San Antonio Tuesday night knotted at two games apiece and, hopefully, with another two days for Steph Curry to rehab his hurt ankle. The overtime win gave us the cover and outright win, and pushed our NBA record to 7-2 ATS over the last week.
Tonight we will try to keep it going with a pair of vital Game Four matchups. The Bulls will try to show that their Game One win wasn’t a total fluke (but it kind of was…) tonight at home, while the Grizzlies are heavily favored and at home, with an opportunity to put the defending conference champs in a 3-1 hole and staring an early summer right in the face.
Let’s break down tonight’s matchup and find a winning advantage.
Miami Heat -7.5 at Chicago Bulls (Total: 186.5)
The Bulls coach called Lebron James a flopper following Game Three. Aside from being inaccurate, it might not have been the wisest move to rattle the cage of the best player alive. Lebron’s last weakness is the occasional tendency to be less assertive offensively in the beginning of games. If he comes out with a killer instinct and looking to attack the basket, the Bulls could find themselves in an early hole, not to mention early foul trouble. The amount of hits and shots they have taken on Lebron this series is staggering. Every single time he gets near the basket they are wrapping him up with two arms. If he is relentless in penetrating the lane right out of the gate, the shorthanded Bulls could have some real depth issues.
But the biggest concern for the defensively-minded Bulls is finding a way to slow down Miami’s offense. Since Game One, the Heat has averaged 109.5 points in the series. Chris Bosh went off for a double-double last game, and even Norris Cole is contributing offensively, hitting 16 of 20 field goal attempts in the series.
I know the Bulls are at home, but I think this series is OVER. They simply do not have enough talent, depth or scoring to take down the champs. I think Miami goes in to Chicago tonight and eliminates any further drama from this series by getting a comfortable win. The Heat at 7-1 ATS when they have gotten a full two days rest, and 5-2 ATS in the Playoffs (8-2 ATS in their last ten games overall).
Free Pick: Miami Heat -7.5
Oklahoma City Thunder at Memphis Grizzlies -4.5 (Total: 184.5)
The Grizzlies have a chance to take control of the series tonight on their home floor, and I think they will do just that. They match up very well with the Thunder, who are having trouble figuring out how to contend with the size and physicality of Memphis. They have experimented going small and playing Kevin Durant at the four, and it has gone well in small spurts, but he can’t guard Zach Randolph or Marc Gasol without being at a huge disadvantage (or enormous foul risk). They can’t score enough points if they stay big, especially missing Russell Westbrook as a second creative offensive option.
In short, the Thunder have some real personnel and matchup disadvantages in this series. Add in the emergence of Mike Conley as a legit top-tier point guard this post season, and the loss of Westbrook becomes even more exacerbated.
I like Memphis to win at home tonight and to force a do-or-die Game Five for the Thunder back in Oklahoma City.
Free Pick: Memphis Grizzlies -4.5