The absolutely fantastic NBA Playoffs continue today with four more games starting at 1pm EST. Yesterday was incredible, Donald Sterling’s alleged idiocy aside, as three of the four games came down to the final shot, and each game was magical for its own unique reason. The Pacers salvaged their season, and perhaps their franchise (it sounds overdramatic, but it’s not; if they lose this series, this team is likely blown up) with a flurry of three-pointers with two minutes to go to escape in Atlanta. Oklahoma City took down Memphis in the third overtime game of the series and evened the series at 2-2 in the process. If they lose that game, perhaps THAT franchise is forever altered as well; Scotty Brooks’s job becomes dicey, Westbrook trade rumors amplify.
But easily the most thrilling game was the final four seconds of the Dallas and San Antonio game, with Manu Ginobili hitting a seemingly game-winner, only to have the equally ageless Vince Carter hitting a buzzer-beating corner three-pointer to push the Mavs to an unlikely 2-1 series lead.
A few more favorites face some dire circumstances today. Can Chicago and the Rockets get their series back to level? Let’s dig into today’s matchups and see if we can improve on the splits of the last two days with a winner in our lone pick.
Today’s Free Pick:
Los Angeles Clippers -2 at Golden State Warriors (Total: 209.5)
This game will be overshadowed by the controversy surrounded the tape of Donald Sterling (allegedly) and the disgusting remarks it contained. It brings the obvious element of “how will the Clippers respond” into the mix. My guess is that is galvanizes this team and pulls them together. Sometimes distractions, no matter how ugly, can bring a team together in the short term.
However, they have a tough challenge in attempting to win at rowdy Golden State, a team known for some home court playoff heroics. Down 2-1, the pressure falls back on Golden State and I like them to respond well. But I am not sure they have enough depth to contend with the Clippers.
Through the first week of the Playoffs, I’d make the Clippers the slight favorite to win the West. OKC and San Antonio have shown some major flaws, and despite a first game slip-up, they have looked very good ever since.
I think the Clippers use the emotional turmoil surrounding them as fuel today, and I feel a little bad for the Warriors who get a team with a ton to play for, and an enormous rallying cry.