The Pacers took firm control of the series last night while JR Smith and the Knicks continued to struggle mightily. After a convincing win (and easy cover) the Pacers will try to close out the series tomorrow night in New York.
Meanwhile, our winning streak came to a close with Golden State’s first really poor showing of the 2013 playoffs. They were pretty big underdogs last night in San Antionio, but it was the first time this postseason they failed to cover in a game in which they were getting more than one point. I expect them to shake it off, just as they did tough Game One losses in each of their first two series, but Game Six will be an interesting one for this young team playing with elimination pressure for the first time.
Tonight, two teams dealing with catastrophic injuries are pushed to the brink and will be playing with that same elimination pressure; the beleaguered Bulls and the defending Western Conference champion Heat. Can either stave off elimination and force a Game Six Friday night?
Let’s look inside tonight’s matchup for today’s free picks.
Chicago Bulls at Miami Heat -14
The Bulls are done. I think after a pair of blowout losses at home (though they competed for most of the game in Game Three) all but assured that this series is not going to last much longer. The Heat are closing things out tonight at home, the only question is ‘will they cover?’
Fourteen is a lot of points to lay down, especially with it possible to likely that Dwyane Wade is not going to be suiting up tonight. So do the Bulls muster one last heroic effort and fight fight fight to the bloody, inevitable end? Probably. Will it be enough to make a difference? Probably not.
I think the Nate Robinson magic has worn off. There is a reason why this dude is on a different team nearly every season… and that leaves the Bulls completely devoid of offense. I see them putting up another struggling effort somewhere in the 70’s and Lebron doing JUST enough to push the lead out to a comfortable margin. We might sweat this one out a bit tonight, but I like the Heat to cover the enormous point spread by the time the final buzzer sounds.
Free Pick: Miami Heat -14
Memphis Grizzlies at Oklahoma City Thunder -4
The Thunder knew things wouldn’t be easy without Westbrook, but they might not have realized just how tight the defensive clamps of an already great defensive team would get without a second dynamic offensive option besides Kevin Durant. Tony Allen, Marc Gasol, even the aging Tayshaun Prince – this is a long, physical and tenacious defense. The fact the Thunder have been close in every game speaks volumes about the absolute ridiculous talent of Durant.
However, despite the Grizz and their solid play, tonight’s game is back home in OKC. The crowd will be electric, and as Reggie Miller is so fond of saying on air, role players tend to be bigger at home. That’s all Durant needs tonight; a little help from his friends.
I think he’ll get it. The Grizz still win this series, but not tonight. Give me Durant dropping 40 and some combination of Martin, Ibaka, Sefolosha and Fisher making enough shots to propel the Thunder to an emotional, gutty win.
Free Pick: Oklahoma City Thunder -4