We hit another NBA winner last night, banking on the lack of heart from the Rockets and the extra-effort of the Clippers and we were rewarded with a snoozer of an easy win. But the story from yesterday was easily the continuing excitement from the Bulls and Cavs, this game punctuated by ANOTHER buzzer-beating game winner from a former MVP – this time the role of hero was played by LeBron James who waved off the drawn-up play by Coach Blatt to call his own number in a different fashion. Of course, results speak louder than intentions – so ignore that old play call and attempted time out call (can you IMAGINE the storylines of the refs SEE Blatt call that timeout??!?)
Anyhow, the Cavs won to tie the series to 2-2, knotting the series at two apiece. Both series tonight feature the top seeds in the respective conferences trying to force a similar result. So can either team rebound and get back in control of the series? Or are the Hawks and Warriors in true trouble??
Let’s dive into tonight’s free pick and try to make it three straight NBA winners.
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Today’s Free NBA Pick:
Atlanta Hawks -4.5 at Washington Wizards (Total: 198.5)
The late Dean Smith famously said that any team can make up for the absence of a star and win a game. It’s the game afterwards that is the problem. Such could be the case for the Wizards tonight, assuming John Wall is not in the lineup and is instead in street clothes. He is not expected to play, but I assume anything is possible. So, going on the assumption they are not going to force him back early, it’s hard not to expect the Hawks to shoot well enough, and more close to their normal performance, to even the series at two apiece.
The Hawks were dreadful from behind the arc, shooting just 30.4%. In the series they are only 16 of 48 in their losing efforts. In their win they were 12 of 22. I am expecting somewhere in the low-40% range, which should be enough to get the win. The Wizards overcame the absence of Wall in Game Three, but they are going to struggle to get enough offense consistently without Wall there to both create and score.
I am not giving up on the Hawks (or the Warriors, though I STILL remain tentative on picking that series). I think they even this series up and still have a decent chance to get through this series if Wall can’t return and make a major contribution. The Hawks are much deeper and I can’t see them continuing to shoot as poorly as they have. The Wizards are not the Grizzlies defensively. It is easy to attribute some of the Warriors struggles shooting to the defense. It’s not as easy to do the same for the Hawks. I’ll bet on some regression to the mean tonight and a Hawks road series-knotting win.