I hate dramatic overreactions early in NBA Playoff series. After all, if we played that game, who wouldn’t have proclaimed the series as OVER after the Spurs rolled up the Clippers in embarrassing fashion in Game Three. There are hundreds of similar examples; the rhythm of an NBA Playoff series is one of ebbs and flows, one with dramatic shifts as the illusion of momentum fades away. It is dangerous to draw dramatic conclusions from a single game, especially as a savvy wagerer.
However… It is hard not to draw some sizeable conclusions from the first game of the four NBA Conference Semifinal series. Last night, it is obvious that Cleveland has some real problems without Kevin Love. It is also obvious Derrick Rose is back to being a legitimate factor and that Pau Gasol is the most efficient big in this series by FAR. It is also obvious that Houston has some real problems, far beyond their foul foul-shooting. To lose a home game in the manner they did to the Clippers without Chris Paul tells me that it is entirely possible that LAC makes quick work of them. It also affords them the luxury of giving Chris Paul another night to rest the hamstring, knowing WORST case, they return home with a 1-1 split.
There are also some huge questions to be answered tonight. Is Atlanta in serious trouble, and can Memphis even hope to compete with the Warriors without Mike Conley (or with him on a limited, damaged basis)?
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Today’s Free Pick:
Memphis Grizzlies at Golden State Warriors -10.5
It is going to be bananas tonight. Between the regular Bay Area enthusiasm for a playoff game and the absurd love-fest that Steph Curry, conquering hero hoisting his MVP trophy, will elicit tonight, it is going to be a raucous arena. Add in the fact that the Grizz don’t match up well given their offensive deficiencies, and then take away their heart and soul and best point guard defender, Mike Conley, and you have the making of a real tough spot for the Grizz tonight.
I am not a fan of laying double-digits in playoff games, but it is hard to ignore the seismic gap between these two teams tonight. Conley believes he will be able to play tonight, so I am going on the assumption he will be on the floor – but at what level? And can he even hope to slow down Steph tonight? Golden State has the size and strength to deal with Memphis’s frontcourt defensively, and their offensive edge is massive.
Two months ago, this looked like it would be a great possible Conference Final. Now? The gap has widened and Golden State is vastly superior. They were 39-2 at home this year and a perfect 3-0 in the playoffs. They are one of the most efficient defensive teams in the league despite the offense getting all the credit. I hate to make too much over one game at home without the other team’s point guard, but I think Golden State makes pretty easy work of this series. Memphis should get a game at home, but I think that’s it – this thing wraps in five and the Dubs roll tonight.