We got the win last night, in easy fashion nonetheless, so I am not complaining. But damn, handicapping NBA Playoff games can be really tricky. Analytics? Pshaw! Trends? Who needs em!
Afterall, how else can you explain the first two games of the Houston and San Antonio series? A 54-point swing between Games One and Two with NO other extraneous variables changing. The lineups were the same, the arena was the same, the teams were the same. The result was, um, just a little different. And you can try to make Coach Pop or D’Antoni into geniuses/morons for the various “adjustments” and “tactics” but at the end of the day – just watching the games on television, there were just two variables: making shots and caring.
Seriously, that was basically the biggest difference. The Spurs came out with better effort, didn’t allow as many uncontested three pointers, and had some shots fall early while Houston did not. Boom! 54-point swing! (oh, and Kawhi Leonard erased James Harden from the face of the Earth…)
In all seriousness, there are very little prior metrics or numbers you could have used before last night’s game other than the rationale we employed “The Spurs are still really good. They had a really bad night. Don’t overreact.”
Of course, Tony Parker’s late injury adds another crazy variable to the mix, but we will deal with that tomorrow…
Today’s NBA Pick:
Boston Celtics at Washington Wizards -5
The Wizards were RIGHT THERE in Game Two, only to miss two buzzer-beating game winning attempts and end up getting smoked by ten in overtime to fall into a 2-0 hole. I think they will eventually regret that moment as the fulcrum to this otherwise competitive series, but for tonight’s game only, look for a big swing. Both of these teams are FAR better at home than on the road, and Washington even more dramatically so. Both teams were 30-11 in the regular season on their home floor.
I like Washington to come out quick tonight, as they have in both of the first two games of the series, but this time they won’t run out of steam. Home teams tend to knock down a few extra shots and have a few less defensive lulls. That change alone should get the Wizards to a win and cover.
Washington is one of the best home favorites in the NBA at 21-15 ATS this season (58.3%) with a 6.4 ppg average margin of victory. Boston is a good road ATS team, but a lot of that was compiled well before anyone saw them as a potential #1 seed and as a favorite they are a more reasonable 9-8-1 ATS.
Momentum swings often in postseason series, and often the biggest variable is simply WHERE the game is played. Washington has competed in the first two games and flat-out gave one away in Game Two. Expect them to get a little redemption this evening.
Today’s NBA Pick: WASHINGTON WIZARDS -5