I was right in suspecting that Kyrie Irving wouldn’t be at 100% in last night. I was wrong in assuming that meant the demise of the Cavaliers. LeBron was, well, LeBron – the best player in the world, and J.R. Smith continued his career and reputation renaissance with 28 marvelous and desperately-needed points, and the Cavs won Game One on the road to wrest early control of the series. The scary thing for the Hawks was that yesterday might have been the cleanest look at an easier win this series. As Kyrie gets healthier, the road gets even tougher for the Hawks. It’s wise not to overreact to any one game in a series (ehm, Game Four Clippers/Rockets, anyone?) but it certainly was an ENORMOUS win to start the series for the Cleveland Cavaliers.
Meanwhile, the Western Conference retakes the stage tonight after a competitive and entertaining opener which saw the Warriors pushed to the limit as the Rockets held large leads in the first half and kept the margin within single digits for the first time in five meetings this season. So has Houston figured something out? Or can the Warriors reassert their dominance tonight at The Roaricle?
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Today’s Free Pick:
Houston Rockets at Golden State Warriors -10
The game seemed to be in hand, steadily in the Rockets control. Then Steph happened. The Curry Flurry that has been blinding teams all season (really his whole basketball career), that instantaneous, un-defendable offensive explosion that completely turns the tide of the game and makes you question why you were ever skeptical in the first place. Instant. BOOM. Warriors lead.
I am not sure they will need the remarkable spurt tonight, as I’m sticking with the Warriors as the better team. Dwight Howard’s health is questionable (he’s playing, but how well?) and they just don’t have a lot of offense outside of Harden and possibly Ariza without needing more than I am comfortable wagering on from the mercurial Josh Smith. Golden State has dominated them all year, and despite a lousy first 17 minutes two nights ago (and a little shakiness in the final closeout minute) they have been the markedly better team. I think Houston will get a game (maybe two?) at home, but I don’t see them handing the W’s only their fourth home loss this entire season tonight.
The ten point line is still a steep one, but I fall back on the Warriors average point differential at home and their season point differential against Houston both being higher. I’ll swallow the points and stick with Golden State to snap my losing skid tonight.