The NBA Playoffs kick off today at 12:30 EST, with action going around the clock the entire weekend. Four series start today, and four start tomorrow, and the action starts with a series I’m looking forward to – Toronto vs. Brooklyn. The entire Eastern Conference was seemingly tripping over themselves trying to position themselves into a first-round matchup with the Raptors, as if they were a .500 team. In reality, the Raptors are a 47 win ballclub with a pair of All-Star caliber guards and a city hungry for some postseason success. Don’t be surprised if the fervor to play the Raptors is soon replaced with a mighty challenge, and possibly even a loss.
Let’s dig in with a pair of plays to kick off the NBA postseason.
Today’s Free Picks:
Golden State Warriors at Los Angeles Clippers -7 (Total: 211)
These two teams split the season series with each team covering twice as well. But what makes this series so compelling isn’t the even series matchup, and it isn’t even that these are two of the most explosive offenses in the NBA. What makes this series must-see television is how intensely these two teams dislike each other.
Blake Griffin and Jermaine O’Neal got into it back in March and the bad blood doesn’t seem to have dissipated. Warriors coach Mark Jackson is no stranger to acrimony as an old-school Knicks 90’s guard, and the Clippers have Matt Barnes in case things aren’t agitated enough.
Man, this is going to be fun.
But is it really going to be a lopsided Clippers blowout? I don’t think so. The Warriors will be without Andrew Bogut, which severely limits their chances to win the series, as it is putting a TON of pressure on David Lee and Jermaine O’Neal, but the backcourt play in this series is going to be insane. I can’t wait to watch a week of Steph Curry vs. Chris Paul. And I think the Warriors can shoot themselves into at least one or two wins. I don’t think they win it today, but I like it to be a better game than expected.
Memphis Grizzlies at Oklahoma City Thunder -7.5 (Total: 191.5)
Man, what a terrifying opening round matchup if you are Oklahoma City. Granted, the Thunder were without Westbrook last season, but this is basically the same Grizzlies team that sprinted past them to the Western Conference Finals last season. The Grizzlies ended the season with a five game winning streak that included wins over Phoenix and Dallas, and are playing fantastic basketball.
I like the Thunder in this series. As a matter of fact, OKC is my tentative pick to win the West, although much can change between now and then. But I don’t see Memphis rolling over and being an easy out. People remember them getting swept by the Spurs last year in the Western Conference Finals, but forget that two of those games were in overtime.
Memphis is physical enough to wear on OKC’s frontline. But at the end of the day, Durant is just on a different plane than any offensive player in the NBA right now. I’ll take OKC to win, but Memphis to cover today.