Atlanta closed out Boston last night on the road to take the series 4-2 and advance to face the Cavaliers in a rematch of last year’s lop-sided Eastern Conference Finals. I’m happy to bid that series farewell as it was the one I had the most difficult time getting a firm handle on handicapping. I will wait to see what the lines are for each game, but will fire the opening salvo by saying that, barring catastrophic injury, the Cavaliers win that series in a YAWN…
Three HUGE games tonight with a trio of Game Sixes on the slate. The Raptors will attempt to mirror Atlanta by going on the road to close out a series in six, while the Heat, whom many liked to go to the Conference Finals, need to muster a Game Six road win to stay alive after Game Five’s controversial loss at home to the Hornets.
And of course, the artist formerly known as the Clippers will try to stay alive by winning a roadie at upstart Portland.
Let’s see if we can start the weekend off with a winning pick.
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Today’s Free Pick:
Los Angeles Clippers at Portland Trailblazers -11 (Total: 198)
It is a fair observation to state that the Clippers are dead in the water. They lost their two best players and went from “hey, Steph is hurt, we got a real shot at the Conference Finals” to “wow, we missed our window and it is probably time to blow this team up” in less than 36 hours. That is enough to get many teams to curl up and die quietly. Heck, the Rockets withered under far less dire circumstances.
But I don’t think Doc lets this team go down without a fight tonight. Will it be enough? Quite possibly not. But I wouldn’t put a win out of the realm of possibility and certainly like the Clippers with double digit points to support them. They still have some talent with Redick, Jordan, Crawford and a capable bench. And I think they will compete hard throughout tonight. I don’t THINK they’ve officially surrendered, and while it would be understandable if they have, I think they have one more good fight left in them tonight.
Maybe I’m putting too much faith in Doc and underestimating how completely Chris Paul runs that team on the floor. But either way, the points are just too many to ignore tonight. I’ll take LAC to keep it competitive and at the very least, make Portland earn their passage into the second round.