We are now three days into the NBA Playoffs, and every series except two which have only played one game, are ALREADY in situations where home court advantage has been ceded. The Grizzlies became the sixth road team to win a playoff game last night with their thrilling overtime win over the Thunder. Meanwhile, we picked up an easy win with the OVER in the Golden State/Clippers game as LAC put up 138 points en route to a 40-point win.
Fortuntaly for Warriors, this isn’t Champions League soccer, and the margin doesn’t matter. Mark Jackson can still rally his troops after an embarrassing loss and sell them very honestly on “mission accomplished.” They went on the road and stole the opener. Now they have home court advantage in a Best-of-Five series. And who knows what can happen from there…
Tonight three more series play their first encore, with varying degrees of tension. The most tense will easily be in Indianapolis where the top-seeded Pacers face the calamity of going down 2-0 to the 38-44 Atlanta Hawks. Can they get it back together tonight? Vegas seems to think so, installing them as 7.5 point favorites. I think they will win as well, but I’ve been spotty gauging the Pacers play lately, so I’ll take a pass on wagering that game. Instead, let’s look elsewhere in the East and see if we can notch another playoff winner tonight.
Today’s Free Pick:
Washington Wizards at Chicago Bulls -5.5 (Total: 180.5)
It is dangerous to make too much of a single game in a playoff series, but watching Game One it was very clear that Washington has a significant advantage in the backcourt. DJ Augustine, despite the nice career-resurrection he is enjoying in Chicago is NO match for John Wall and Bradley Beal, and Gortat and Nene seemed to be pretty unfazed by Boozer and Noah. In short, Washington LOOKED like the better team and the team that should win this series.
And doesn’t it seem like that is exactly how Chicago likes it? Back to the wall, desperate for a win, discounted and dismissed only to rise up with a fury? I’m afraid to bet against them tonight, though I wouldn’t be stunned if Washington wins again. I also wouldn’t be stunned if Chicago wins by 20. NBA Playoff series are strange animals.
My play on this game is in the total point column. I like there to be a little more offense than expected. Chicago carries their defensive reputation with them everywhere they go and it drives down the lines a bit, but this matchup has gone OVER four of the last five games. In fact, only twice in ten tries has one of the teams failed to score 90 or more points, and one of them was an 88-point performance by the Bulls.
Look for the Wiz backcourt to continue to thrive, but Chicago to pick up their offensive effort to try and keep pace. I like the OVER tonight at the United Center.