Chris Paul was valiant, but the end of an era might have arrived last night in Utah.
The Los Angeles Clippers, sans Blake Griffin, were unable to defend their home court for the second time this series and now face a do-or-die Game Six in Utah to keep their season alive, and likely, their franchise intact. A loss Friday will be not just the end of the season but the probably end of the Paul/Blake/DeAndre/Doc Era and a complete reset – and possible the beginning of the return to the long-time status quo; the Clippers as the “other” team in Los Angeles…
Elsewhere, the Rockets closed out the Thunder as once again Russ’s statline was amazing, but his fourth quarter was a sputtering, erratic disaster as the Rockets clamped down late and closed out Oklahoma City. The series wasn’t short on acrimony or excitement, but in all truth, I found the actual quality of the basketball to be less than overwhelming. I don’t want to be a hater, but at 38% shooting on 30.4 attempts per game, there is some validity to Patrick Beverly’s argument that he did a pretty effective job guarding Westbrook (and Russ would have a good argument that he won’t state – WHO ELSE IS GONNA SHOOT???). Either way, the basketball never quite reached my level of expectation for the Harden/Russ hype.
And the Spurs, despite opening the door for uncertainty in a major way in Memphis, appear to have stabilized the series by notching their third double-digit home win of the series to stake a 3-2 lead. Surely the Spurs won’t lose this series (right? RIGHT??) but even having it drag on to seven games while the Rockets are home resting could prove costly…
Let’s get back on the winning track tonight with a look at the pivotal Game Five in Washington.
Today’s NBA Pick:
Atlanta Hawks at Washington Wizards -5.5
The say home is where the heart is, and for these two basketball teams, the saying is certainly applicable. Not only is the home team a perfect 4-0 this series, there has been a visible difference in both teams when they are in the cozy confines of their home arena. The home teams have won by an average of 10.5 points per game so far in this series.
So can it really be that simple? Just pick the home team?
I don’t see any reason to get cute tonight. Stick with what works and don’t try to outsmart the room. I still think Washington is the slightly better basketball team, so if I can get them at home at a line that is about half of what the series has shown to this point, it seems like a nice value.
Washington is 32-11 straight up this season at home including the postseason and are third in the NBA with a 25-18 ATS mark at home. I like them to add another winner tonight and take a 3-2 series lead in a series that feels destined to go the distance.
Today’s NBA Pick: WASHINGTON WIZARDS -5.5