It’s easy to gloat about picks (or be mortified by them) in retrospect. After all, following the game, everything that was going to happen is now plainly evident. So it would be easy to gloat about yesterday’s confident pick of the Spurs laying waste to the Thunder and easily covering the Game One spread. This game was OVER immediately. The Spurs got out to a 43-20 lead after one quarter and went to the halftime locker room with a staggering 73-40 lead. No contest. Easy winner for us.
And while I did notch an easy winner in the process, there was a lot of mathematical evidence to suggest the Thunder and the points was a valid play. In their two meetings in San Antonio this season, the Spurs won narrowly – by four and eight points respectively (yes, one of them was between the respective “B squads”), and heading into last night’s game the Spurs had only covered in three of their last eight games, while OKC had covered five of seven. The Thunder won once in OKC as well and certainly didn’t LOOK like a team that couldn’t compete with the Spurs.
My point is – it LOOKS easy in retrospect, but there still has to be some mild surprise in the EASE in which San Antonio dominated. It will be interesting to see how OKC gets up off the mat tomorrow (I suspect a better effort…)
Meanwhile, we have a pair of GAME SEVEN’S today – the greatest thing in sports. So let’s dive in to the evening’s final game, the Pacers trying to pull off a rare feat; winning a Game Seven on the road in the NBA, while Toronto tried to avoid a legitimate franchise-crushing disaster.
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Today’s Free Pick:
Indiana Pacers at Toronto Raptors -6.5
Game Six was no contest, but let’s not forget we’ve seen this recipe more than a few times. We’ve even seen it with Indiana as recently as three years ago against the Heat. The dominated at home in Game Six, only to head to Miami and be summarily dismissed in a less-than-competitive Game Seven.
But this Toronto team ain’t the four-time Finalist Heat, and there is no LeBron/Wade/Bosh trio to rely on. Instead, they rely on the good backcourt of Lowry and DeRozan who have had mighty struggles all series long – enough to assume it might be more than struggles and it may have a bit to do with the Pacers defensive personnel and scheme. Add in the inane pressure on Toronto today, and I don’t think it is a great recipe for a bounce-back shooting performance. Indiana is still playing with house money; no one expected them to be a playoff team, no one expected Paul George to return THIS good this quickly, and no one will be surprised if they lose today. Except them.
Just watching the last two games of this series, Indiana thinks they are the better and tougher team. They may be right. I’m not sure they win today, but I don’t think Toronto will shoot well enough to bury them. I like this game to be tense. Toronto may well storm back late like they did in Game Five, but I think Indiana does no worse than cover. The history of road teams in Game Seven’s in the NBA is a terrible one – so despite how the last two games looked a straight-up Indiana win would qualify as a surprise, but I don’t know that it would be stunning.
I’ll take the Pacers and the points in a potentially thrilling end to the first round of the Playoffs.