The Playoffs went pretty much according to script yesterday, though I was on the wrong end of a surpringly large margin in a pretty evenly matched Hornets/Heat matchup. We will try to even up our postseason record today with a winner.
In fact, the first two days overall were pretty non-descript, especially in the West. The favorites all won in commanding fashion and all easily covered on their home floors, perhaps portending a predictably boring (and quick) first round in the West. Given the chasm between the top four teams and everyone else, it should be a big surprise. Expect some really large spreads for the respective Game Twos.
The only place where some intrigue has emerged was from the Pacers going into Toronto and awakening the Raps lingering demons of postseason failure. From Vince Carter’s graduation to last season’s Paul Pierce-led sacking of The North, there is some well-earned angst after Game One of this series went awry. There were some pretty damning statistical outliers in Game One, both the insane shooting of Paul George and the terrible shooting from the Toronto All-Star backcourt. Suffice it to say, there is ENORMOUS pressure on Lowry and DeRozan tonight…
Let’s see if we can earn a winner today.
Today’s Free Pick:
Dallas Mavericks at Oklahoma City Thunder -13.5 (Total: 201)
The opener in this series was pretty ugly. I had leaned towards Dallas at least forcing a “Gentleman’s Sweep” and grabbing one game to save the embarrassment for Dirk and Co. but I am forced to reconsider after seeing the terrible effort in the opener, not to mention the sheer athleticism advantage that the Thunder possess.
That said, I expect Dallas to be better offensively tonight. They tallied just 78 points in the opening nightmare and the Thunder took their foot off the pedal in the fourth quarter. Expect Dallas to at least compete tonight and make some baskets. Not that it’ll be enough to win, but it is enough to scare to off laying nearly 14 points. But I don’t think that means Dallas and defend Durant and Westbrook. The Thunder averaged 116.5 points per game this season against the Mavs. Expect them to get closer to that number tonight. That would leave Dallas needing only to muster 85 points to get to the over. I expect much more fireworks tonight offensively.
A total of 201 seems pretty low given the massive totals the Thunder have amassed in this matchup all season long, despite a sluggish Game One. That was due largely to how non-competitive the game was. If Dallas can stay within 25 in the first half this time (I think they will) expect the point total to escalate accordingly.
Free Pick: Total POINTS OVER 201