Well now, things are starting to get a little interesting (or disappointing, I suppose, depending on your perspective) out East. The Cavaliers are going to be without J.R. Smith for the first two games of next series and Kevin love will miss at least the Eastern Conference Finals. The Chicago Bulls should be the benefactor, but they can’t seem to close out the Milwaukee Bucks – in fact, had they been able to win Game Three in overtime, they’d actually be leading this series 3-2. SO perhaps the Bulls aren’t the answer either.
So what about the Hawks? Well, they are now even with Brooklyn at two games apiece after yet another lackluster effort against the the barely playoff-worthy Brooklyn Nets. SO can ANYONE win the East? Do they even get to send a representative to the Finals?
Maybe, just maybe, the best team in the East right now is the, gasp, Washington Wizards? I am not sure I quite buy that myself, but it is hard to ignore their impressive first round and the problems of the other three top teams in the Conference.
Meanwhile, Portland extended the series as predicted to pull our postseason record to a nice 70% ATS. Let’s keep it rolling tonight with only two games on the docket.
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Today’s Free Pick:
Dallas Mavericks at Houston Rockets -7
Dallas proved their veteran championship guts in Game Four to extend the series and avoided a sweep. However, they have a tough challenge tonight heading back to Houston and expecting to get another 2 of 21 deep shooting performance for three quarters out of the offensively potent Rockets. Yeah, they knocked a few garbage time three to pull to 22%, but it was still an abominable shooting performance overall. A regression back to the mean tonight as well as a change in venue is a lot to overcome.
But I still like Dallas tonight with seven points. I think they loss of Rondo is a really good thing. They look a lot crisper on offense and certainly a lot looser. Keep in mind they were a record-setting offense the first few months of this season. They’ve lost their last four games in Houston, including Games One and Two, so there is a good chance the series ends tonight. But I like the notion of Dallas with their veteran core going down with a fight and keeping the game tight. Seven points is a decent cushion, in fact they haven’t won by more than seven points in this series yet.
Give me the points, and I won’t be surprised at all if the Rockets, who have only advanced past the first round twice since 1997, find it difficult to close out the series against a proud, talented and veteran ballclub.