We stayed hot last night with our fifth NBA winner in the last six games, but we aren’t anything approaching ‘Cleveland Cavaliers Game Two’ hot. The Cavs simply went bananas on the hapless Hawks last night, beating them for the tenth straight time in a playoff game, but somehow this beatdown will be even more memorable than the previous nine combined. Cleveland hit an NBA-record EIGHTEEN three-pointers in the first half en route to another NBA record 25 for the entire game. Mind you, this isn’t just a playoff record, it is an NBA GAME record.
The result was an absolute avalanche. The Hawks were down thirty before they knew what hit them and only a completely indifferent fourth quarter from the Cavs (28-17 ATL) prevented this from being in the “worst loss on franchise postseason history” category.
It was complete domination from the only team who has yet to lose a game in the Playoffs.
There is just a single game again tonight as the West Coast teams are getting some well-earned rest for making short work of their first round opponents. That leaves just Miami and Toronto as the Raptors look to avoid a near-fatal 0-2 deficit at home. Can they finally get some production out of their struggling All Star backcourt, or is this series about to become quick work for Miami??
Today’s Free Pick:
Miami Heat at Toronto Raptors -4.5 (Total: 188)
Sometimes handicapping NBA Playoff games requires a little more intuition than metrics. It involves subtle nuances; matchup trends, likely adjustments, motivation and desperation factors and some likely regression/progression towards the mean or norm. If it were straight up analytics, the trends would almost always just say “pick the better team four times” yet few series actually unfold in this fashion.
My point is, all the metrics and recent trends make Miami the pick tonight, so I can’t fault anyone if they choose to go that route. If you think, and it is a reasonable thought, that Kyle Lowry’s last eight games is enough of a sample size to assume something is wrong with him; mental, physical et. al, that it is hard to call you wrong. If you think Toronto doesn’t get good enough shots, settles for WAY too many DeMar DeRozan shots from midrange – statistically the worst shot in modern-day basketball, I’d say I agree with you there as well. If your eyes simply tell you that Miami is the better basketball team, I once again agree and picked them to win the series before Game One for a reason.
But I am still leaning Toronto tonight.
Hopefully you aren’t disappointed in my abandoning of metrics and numbers and even my eyes. And I concur that you can ridicule me tomorrow if I’m wrong. But I just don’t think two teams that are relatively even are going to have a boring four or five game series. And if Toronto loses tonight, this thing is O-V-E-R. Done. Stick a fork in it.
So, I am going to go with emotion and desperation and back a Toronto bounce back tonight at home. We see it ALL the time in the NBA Playoffs. One team looks dead on the mat after a terrible shooting game, only to bounce back up off the mat and revive their staggering chances. Especially when the team that was gut-punched is trying to bounce back at HOME.
The Raptors are 35-11 at home this year, including the Playoffs with two losses. The Heat, even after a pair of road wins in the postseason are still just 22-23. When two relatively evenly matched teams in the NBA square off, the home team usually wins. We already got our aberration from the suggested norm in Game One. I think the scales balance out tonight.
I’ll eat the four and bank on Toronto FINALLY waking up in this postseason and playing like a team that won 78% of their home games this season.
Free Pick: Toronto Raptors -4.5