For some reason the NBA took a night off last night, only to reboot Wednesday’s matchups again tonight before resuming the other two series which have been off since Tuesday…. Ah, the power of TV ratings (and dollars). Because of that, the Pacers and Knicks will get seemingly a month to play the first four games of their series against the Knicks, while the Heat, Bulls, Spurs and Warriors make the travel and hit the court less than 48 hours later…
The schedule might be a little bizarre, but the action and matchups have been absolutely fantastic. For the first time in NBA history, all four conference semi-final series are knotted at 1-1. It makes for a ton of intrigue and a ton of uncertainty. With the exception of the Thunder v Grizzlies series, each series has had a team get their doors blown off at least once – yet that same team doing the dominating has also lost a game. SO what to make of the matchups??
Let’s dig into tonight’s pivotal Game Threes and try to build on our 2-0 winning night Wednesday.
Miami Heat -7.5 at Chicago Bulls (Total: 186.5)
The Bulls gave a valiant effort on Game One, but it is not difficult to see this series proceeding very much as things did in Game Three. Perhaps not in the emotional unraveling sense that the previous game devolved into, but in the sense that Chicago has little to NO offensive punch and the Heat have seemingly limitless talent. They are bringing starters and NBA established vets off the bench at nearly every position. Oh, and they also have the BEST player on the planet in Lebron James, who hasn’t even really extended himself yet this series.
Chicago’s walking wounded played amazing in Game One, and Marco Bellineli and Nate Robinson shot the lights out to provide enough offensive punch to carry them. Do you think they can do it again?? I don’t.
I’ll take Wade, Bosh and Lebron over Nate, Boozer, Bellineli and Joakim any day of the week. In fact, I’d even lay double digits on the road. Bad news Bulls fans, the Heat have shaken off the rust. I like another big margin tonight.
Free Pick: Miami Heat -7.5
San Antonio Spurs at Golden State Warriors -2 (Total: 202.5)
This series, like the Warriors series in Round One, has quickly become the most entertaining television series, even if the names and markets aren’t as glamorous as Miami, Chicago, New York, Durant and the Thunder, etc. And, no matter who is the ‘star’ in an individual game, the reason this series is absolutely must-watch is simple; Steph Curry (or “Steve” Curry if you follow Ron Artest on Twitter….). Curry has vaulted into the national spotlight with his dazzling passing and lightning quick release and offensive creativity. It also doesn’t hurt that he STILL looks like a 17-year old kid, making the heroics so much more jaw-dropping when compared to other scoring celebrities like Carmelo, Lebron, Durant and other more physically-blessed stars.
The simple fact in this series is that the Warriors look quicker, fresher and far more energetic. The other fact is that as crunch time rolls around, the Spurs look MUCH more comfortable with playoff pressure.
I’m not sure the pressure will be a huge factor tonight. Golden State has blown the doors off the Spurs in the first three quarters in both games of this series, and both games were in San Antonio, a place where the Warriors had not previously won since 1997 and Timmy Duncan was a senior at Wake Forest.. There are so many perplexing things about that stat; not just the 15 year duration, but that any player of Duncan’s caliber (#1 pick overall) was a SENIOR?!? Huh??
Anyhow – I love the ‘Roaricle’ crowd to carry the Warriors to a big game three win tonight. As Coach Pop noted, Curry and Thompson haven’t been hot at the same time yet. If they ARE tonight, it’s blowout city. Even if not, I think they have enough youth, firepower, shooting and emotion to give the crowd what they want; a BIG win. The Warriors are now 7-1 ATS in the Playoffs. I think tonight makes it #8.
Free Pick: Golden State Warriors -2