Oh the irony.
Doc Rivers, who sparked an inferno by inferring the Warriors had some good luck in terms of health that contributed to their NBA Championship, was once again sitting in the buzzsaw path of the totally healthy defending Champs. Then, like a karmic gift from the Gods, the Steph Curry injury landed in their laps right before a likely second-round matchup. Were the Clippers actually going to get a possible pass to the Conference Finals?
Then, karma turned on its heels and got a little nasty. First, Chris Paul broke his hand in the Game Four series-evening loss to Portland. The news got even worse last night. Blake Griffin is now out of the playoffs as well. Forget any longer range dreams, the Clippers now aren’t even favored to escape Portland. Which of course would be… yep, WONDERFUL LUCK for the Golden State Warriors. Assuming Steph can make it back in three weeks (a big assumption) it seems like they should be able to survive until the Conference Finals, where they could be back at full strength.
No amount of luck would have saved the Celtics last night. My pick got smoked in routine fashion and we will try to bounce back with a winner tonight.
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Today’s Free Pick:
Houston Rockets at Golden State Warriors -9.5 (Total: 211)
This series is obviously dramatically altered by the absence of Steph Curry. But lest you weep for the Warriors, they do have probably the best backup point guard in the league in Shaun Livingston. The bench obviously thins out a bit, but there are worse options than Leaondro Barbosa getting a few more minutes. Add in Klay Thompson, Andre Iguodala, Andrew Bogut, Harrison Barnes and company, and it’s not an accident that the Warriors are STILL 9.5 point favorites.
The play here tonight may not be the Warriors, despite the fact they should still win at home. It feels like about an 8-12 point game to me, which is a little too close to the line. The play is on the UNDER. Look for the Warriors to value possession a little bit more and be a little slower without Steph. The early shot clock 27-footer won’t be a part of the normal flow. Rather it should be a little more controlled and patient. That should keep the point totals a little lower than expected. Plus, Shaun Livingston is a better overall defender than Curry and gives them a little more length in the lineup when he is on the floor with the rest of the starters.
I think Golden State gets the win tonight and gets to some much needed rest for the second round. But don’t expect it to be one of the 120-point barrages that gets the job done. Look for them to rely on their very underrated defense to smother Houston into an inefficient night. Plus, once this series looks all but settled, do you think the Rockets have the heart to fight to the finish??