NBA Picks and Predictions for April 28th

I am not convinced San Antonio can come back and win this series, but…if they do, Gary Neal’s buzzer-beating, overtime-forcing, elimination-staving three point basket last night has to go near the top of biggest shots in franchise history – and this is a franchise that has raised four championship banners.

The Grizzlies were 1.7 seconds away from closing out just the second #8 over #1 win in a best-of-seven series, and now are left to wonder what could have been. If they fail to win game 6 at home Friday night, they might be wondering for a long, long time.

Four of the eight series are closed out and finished, but the four that remain ongoing should provide plenty of excitement for hoops fans tonight and through the weekend. Let’s get to some picks and more importantly, some winners.

Today’s Free NBA Picks:

Orlando Magic -2 @ Atlanta Hawks (Total: 178.5)

The Magic staved off elimination in a big way Tuesday night, hammering the Atlanta Hawks in Orlando. As poor as the Magic shot the ball in their first four games, they shot it equally as well in Game 5.

Sometimes it really is that simple for the Orlando Magic. Shoot the ball well; they win. Shoot poorly? They lose. Take the curious case of Dwight Howard for example. The All-World center had a dominant game for the annals in Game One, scoring 46 points, ripping down 19 rebounds… and the Magic lost. In Game Five, he took just four shots and the Magic blew them out of the gym.

So which team shows up tonight? My supposition is that a desperate Magic team comes out and plays hungry, moves the ball and gets open looks – and when the game gets tight and the pressure starts to shift back to the Hawks, Atlanta does what they often do – shrinks from the moment and capitulates to the more mentally-tough opponent.

I still think the Magic are going to win this series (and give the Bulls fits in Round Two), so of course I’m picking them tonight laying the two.

PICK: Orlando Magic -2

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Los Angeles Lakers -5.5 @ New Orleans Hornets (Total: 183.5)

Tonight’s game is as simple as ‘can the Lakers slow down Chris Paul?’ When they have, they’ve won with relative ease. When they haven’t? It got pretty ugly for Kobe and crew.

Chris Paul’s Game 4 triple-double, which included 33 points and 14 assists was about as well as a point guard can possibly play in an NBA game. It was one for the highlight archives. However, unless Chris Paul can repeat his miraculous performances of Game 1 & 4, it is unlikely the Hornets can counter LA’s enormous inside advantage.

Pao Gasol seems to have finally awoken and began asserting his presence in Game 5. The Lakers out-rebounded the undersized Hornets 42-25 in the game, but more importantly, that discrepancy led to a 22-2 advantage in second-chance points. It’s hard to beat anybody yielding that type of discrepancy, let alone the two-time defending champs.

The Lakers slumbered through a few early games, but will take care of business tonight and take advantage of some valuable rest before gearing up for the Dallas v. Portland winner in Round Two. I like the Lakers to do something Phil Jackson’s teams have always done well; smell blood in water and close out a series with hunger.

Give me the Lakers laying the fistful on the road.

PICK: Los Angeles Lakers -5.5

Chris Scheeren / Author

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