NBA Picks and Predictions for April 10th

The Bulls handled their business last week, winning at Phoenix, home versus Boston and then at Cleveland to wrap up the top seed in the East. However, things are far from settled in terms of important seeding position.

Today’s ABC matinee between Boston and Miami is an enormous one; the winner all but assures themselves critical Game Seven home court advantage should the two meet in the second round for some prolonged action. Boston holds a 3-0 season advantage, so even a loss still leaves them with a tiebreaker edge, however they would then have to run the table and hope the Heat lose to either

TODAY’S FREE NBA PICKS:

Boston Celtics @ Miami Heat -5.5

Boston appeared slightly less-than-interested during this week’s earlier double-digit loss to the Chicago Bulls. The way Paul Pierce was quiet and scarcely a single play was run for Ray Allen in the second half – it was almost as if Boston had conceded the Eastern Conference crown; like they were saying “take the win, because we aren’t showing you ANYTHING to use in your Playoff preparation.”

Both teams have been mediocre against the spread over the last three weeks, going a pedestrian 5-4 each. To be honest, both teams have looked pedestrian in general at times, losing some games they shouldn’t and looking rather disinterested at times; almost as if they were done with “this” season and ready for the “real” season to start.

Well, consider today a prelude to the Playoffs.

There are two stats that lean me Boston’s way, despite the seemingly-disinterested display against the Bulls Thursday night. One, the Celtics are 18 of their last 20 against the Heat. Wow. That is Lakers versus the Timberwolves type numbers (actually Minnesota has fared far better in the matchup). Not the stats between two conference foes with reasonably similarly talented teams over the past 4 years.

The second? Five and a half. As in, can you really lay five and half points to pick against a team as prideful as the Celtics given the utter dominance against the Heat?? I can’t.

Give me the C’s and the points in Miami.

FREE PICK: Boston Celtics +5.5

Insane: computer based betting system… click here to check it out

Oklahoma City Thunder @ Los Angeles Lakers -5

Granted, it’s a long-shot – but the Thunder are still mathematically alive to pass the Lakers for seeding in the Western Conference. Trailing by two (and losers of the tie-breaker) with just three to play, it is certainly unlikely the champs will be overtaken, but today’s game means more to the Thunder than mere playoff positioning. It is a chance, as odd as it sounds, to get inside the Lakers psyche just a little bit.

Behind closed doors, I bet the team the Lakers would tell you they are most reluctant to face in the Playoffs is Oklahoma City. The two played an epic six-game, ‘far-closer-than 4-2’ series last season that left all NBA fans tantalized by the potential juggernaut brewing in OKC.

The Lakers have some additional motivation for today. Aside from all but locking up the two seed, the Lakers can pretty much assure the Thunder will stay in the fourth position, thus avoiding a second-round matchup, with a win today.

The Lakers enter on a four-game losing streak, while the Thunder are 14 of their last 17. To say the momentum is headed in opposite directions would be an understatement – but much like the Eastern conference reigning champ Celtics, it’s hard to really count out the Lakers until we see what kind of effort they bring in the Playoffs. I imagine it will be a much different story.

That story starts today. Heading home and buried under an avalanche of media-doubters, expect Kobe Bryant to come out focused enough that his burning intensity trickles over to the rest of his recently-reticent teammates. The Thunder have played the Lakers tough this season, but haven’t been able to

get over the hump, losing every game between the two this season. For the Lakers, another “you can be close, but we’re still the Champs” style win today is an enormous chip in their emotional stack heading into the second season. I think that, and they fact that Phil Jackson would really like to take their foot off the gas and not have to beat the Spurs (or even the Kings in the finale) to secure the #2 seed, will be enough to grab a big win at home – and cover the at-first-blush too low five point spread.

FREE PICK: Los Angeles Lakers -5

Insane: computer based betting system… click here to check it out

Chris Scheeren / Author

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