All three home teams NEED wins tonight to avoid a disastrous 0-2 hole. Vegas hasn't lost faith in the favorites, but are they right? We'll focus on the Utah Jazz at Los Angeles Clippers game for today's featured pick.
The NBA Playoffs are unfolding just about as I expected with the possible exception of Chicago beating Boston in Game One. Not that the Celtics were so mighty, but more a skepticism of the mercurial Chicago Bulls. Alas, we came up a backdoor bucket short of a cover last night, but the game was about what I expected. Cleveland looking less-than-great, but still too-good for the lesser-talented Pacers. They had a healthy lead but again fell prey to the new Achilles Heel of boredom and turned an easy game into a difficult one.
The Cavs can get away with it in Round One. Maybe even in Round Two, looking at Milwaukee’s personnel disadvantage or Toronto’s “Toronto-ness” and the Cavs are fine there. Could the Celtics (with the generous assumption they are still standing) or the Wizards (my pick) catch them slippin? Mayyyyybe. But as unspectacular as it looks, the Cavs are still the overwhelming pick to win the East. But can the club we have seen play the last two months win, or even COMPETE with the Warriors? Not a chance.
We get back to action tonight with a trio of home teams facing early must-win games to avoid a disastrous 2-0 hole. Vegas hasn’t lost faith. The home teams are an average 8.0 point favorite tonight. So, will all get their desperately needed wins, or can one of the plucky upstarts strike a mighty upset haymaker?
Today’s NBA Pick:
Utah Jazz at Los Angeles Clippers -8.5
The rush to bury the Clippers and break up the band might be a few weeks premature. Yes, they Game One loss was a bad one and certainly cause for some angst, but I am not sure I’m quite ready to proclaim this series as over. The Clippers are home tonight and the Jazz are missing their defensive anchor Rudy GObert – for AT LEAST tonight, and then let’s wait and see. The table is set perfectly for a huge bounce back tonight at Staples, and then the mission is simply grab a split in Utah and all is well.
Easier said than done, sure, but it isn’t like the Clippers don’t have plenty of talent to get this job done. Even after the Game One loss, the Clippers have won 7 of 10 against the Jazz over the last several years and five of the last six. They are not as overwhelmed by the Jazz defense as Game One made it appear, and I think tonight is a radical return to the mean. I do not like laying 8.5 points. But I don’t think any other home team has the same edge that the Clippers do on tonight’s slate. I do not want to go near Boston or try to play psychologist and guess how they will or won’t respond three days after their leader’s tragic loss. And I DO NOT trust the Raptors OR the Baby Bucks in Game Two.
The safest play on the board is to not overreact to a bad Game One and take a home team that has thrived in the particular head-to-head matchup prior to Sunday, and who has the advantage of facing a team without their best defensive player and rim protector.
Today’s Pick: LOS ANGELES CLIPPERS -8.5