Two teams have broken through in the NBA Playoffs and won vital games on the road, and it wasn’t the likely suspects. While many experts fully expected Memphis and Boston to even up their series, Chicago and Golden State were left for dead amidst a bevy of injuries. Yet both road up and evened up their Round One matchups – and did so in strikingly different fashion.
Golden State basically played four guards the entire game against Denver last night and did something only three teams have done ALL SEASON; win in Denver. Steph Curry was phenomenal, but the big story was the scoring life they got from Harrison Barnes and Jarrett Jack. Can the Warriors win the series playing four guards?? Probably not. But they have certainly made things real interesting…
Will we get some more interest and intrigue tonight? Let’s dig into tonight’s featured matchup.
Atlanta Hawks at Indiana Pacers -7
The Hawks are probably the least interesting team in the Playoffs, and the Pacers, oft ignored in the Midwest, are once again relegated to a series that finds itself on NBA TV and odd time slots. Game One was a pretty easy win for Indiana who has matchup advantages at nearly every position aside from Josh Smith/David West. Even in that matchup I give the slight edge to the physical and reliable West over the more athletic and erratic Smith.
Indiana played staunch defense, as is their trademark, in game one, holding Atlanta to 90 points. And while David West and Josh Smith is the natural position matchup, Indiana used the quicker Paul George to frustrate Atlanta’s leading scorer into a tough 15 point night. I expect more of the same this evening.
This game becomes very important for Indiana, as they have lost 11 straight games in Atlanta. That doesn’t mean they CAN’T win a game there in the Playoffs, but heading to Atlanta even at a game apiece would be a precarious position for the Central Division champs.
The biggest difference in this series is the physicality and effort of Indiana. I like betting them tonight because physicality and effort are far less volatile from game to game than reliance on outside shooting. Indiana outrebounded the Hawks 48-32 in the opener and drew a ridiculous 26 fouls as Indiana relentlessly attacked the basket. Paul George notched a triple double, scoring 22 points – and 17 of those points came at the line. Those are easy scores and also slow down the tempo to eliminate the one possible edge the Hawks possess in this series.
Give me Indiana winning tonight by double digits on their home floor and covering the seven point spread.
Free Pick: Indiana Pacers -7