As expected, Chicago dispatched of Atlanta last night on the road, setting up the much anticipated Derrick Rose v. LeBron & Wade matchup in the Conference Finals. Of course, even in describing the matchup, there is an obvious inequity; it’s two on one. More like three on one when you include Chris Bosh in the mix.
There was a Carlos Boozer sighting, which is a great sign if you are a Bulls fan, because they are going to need both he and Deng to play at an all-Star level if they have any hope of hanging with the talent in South Beach.
The Bulls putting an unceremonious end to the Hawks season leaves us with just one more series to decide – Oklahoma City who travels to Memphis tonight looking to close out the Grizz in six. Will they?
Let’s get on to today’s free picks.
Today’s Free NBA Picks:
Oklahoma City Thunder @ Memphis Grizzlies -1.5 (Total: 198.5)
The Memphis Grizzlies lost two straight games for the first time this postseason Wednesday night, when they suffered their worst loss in three months; a 99-72 drubbing at the hands of Kevin Durant, Russell Westbrook and the Thunder. According to all reports, the Grizz are none too pleased about it either. Even Coach Lionel Hollins has done some venting to the media, saying “if we make half those layups, that’s 18 points. Come on man, that’s not us.”
Sure, the Grizz missed some shots they had previously made, but to me the difference maker in this series hasn’t been the Grizzlies shooting, it hasn’t been the over-hyped ball distribution equity between Durant and Westbrook, it has been the vanishing act of Zach Randolph the last two games.
One week ago, I wrote that he was playing at an absurd level, like a hybrid of Tim Duncan and Hakeem Olajawon with his bank shot precision and his fade-away beauties. And I wasn’t wrong – media experts everywhere were fawning over the presumptive “Playoff MVP.” The last two games? He played more like, well, “bad Zach” Randolph.
It’s been the knock on him for years. For all the talent and all the flashes of pure greatness – he always remained maddeningly inconsistent. The problem is, this team, especially without Rudy Gay, just can’t get the offensive production they need without him clicking on all cylinders.
I think OKC’s tough interior defenders of Serge Ibaka and Kendrick Perkins have finally figured it out, and that this series is all but over. I like the thunder to go on the road and close things out tonight, and officially close the second round.