For all the talk about some parity in the East, the only series knotted up resumes tonight with the Raptors trying to reclaim home court advantage with a Game Three win in Indiana. The Heat and Hawks have staked surprisingly EASY 2-0 leads, and Miami has done it by scoring a whopping 238 points and completely overwhelming the seemingly evenly-matched Hornets.
Even in the West, a lot pundits thought the Blazers could trip up the Clippers (I was not one of them), but LAC has looked really good and Blake Griffin looks ready to roll as they have won and easily covered both of the first two games of the series. It’s still a little early to get too worried about Steph’s ankle, but IF… BIG IF… there ARE some lingering issues, that second round series with the Clippers, which was already going to be fiercely intense, becomes potentially problematic as well…
In fact, just like in the East, the only series with a 1-1 mark is another favorite who had a surprisingly bad showing at home. The Thunder got embarrassed in Game Two at home, but Vegas isn’t panicking as much as some Thunder fans might be. Vegas has OKC as commanding nine point favorites on the road.
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Today’s Free Pick:
Oklahoma City Thunder -9 at Dallas Mavericks (Total: 196.5)
Kevin Durant has a historically BAD game in their last outing, missing 26 shots and tying a record for most missed attempts in an NBA Playoff Game. The good news is, the record is shared with Michael Jordan, so keep things in perspective. Usually only GREAT players get to TAKE that many shots, and great players USUALLY bounce back. Yes, Wesley Matthews deserves some credit, but Durant missed a lot of makeable shots (like the last one he took, open, from 12 feet on the baseline). Expect him to bounce back tonight.
But laying nine on the road is steep. OKC was just 16-24-1 ATS on the road this season. Meanwhile, Dallas has been a decent home wager at 23-18 and is 6-3 ATS in their last nine games. OKC is 6-4 in their last ten games head-to-head, but Dallas is shooting 2% points higher from the floor and has been the more efficient team. Obviously, the Thunder have more talent and easily the two best players in the series – ergo, they will likely win this series in no more than six games. But a series that LOOKED like it could be a walkover now suddenly has a Game Three that legitimately matters. I think Dallas musters up a decent effort at home and competes, but falls just short of a straight up victory.