The Rockets survived and the Cavaliers won again without Pau Gasol in the Bulls lineup to make each series 3-2. Two more series tonight will also be 3-2 after tonight – the only question remains which team will take the all-important commanding 3-2 lead. The stats on Game Five winners (in 2-2 series) going on the win the series are incontrovertible; tonight’s games are HUGE – especially for the road team. So can either road team steal the series edge? The Wizards are expected to have John Wall in street clothes once again, so the Hawks SHOULD deliver a convincing victory at home tonight. Likewise, the Warriors seemed to shake out of their shooting funk in a Game Four blowout in Memphis.
So who is coming out on top tonight – and more importantly, who can cover the large chunk of points they are laying down at home?
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Today’s Free Pick:
Washington Wizards at Atlanta Hawks -7.5
There has been something a little lackluster about the Hawks in this postseason. They were unimpressive (until Game Six) against the Nets. They’ve been unimpressive in this series so far, splitting the first four games despite playing a Wizards team that is missing their most integral player. Sure, Paul Pierce has moxy and playoff experience, but if Paul Pierce is the piece of the puzzle that is derailing your season, perhaps you weren’t really as good as the regular season record indicated…
Or is it? Atlanta could very well just be laying low, coasting through the early part of the series, figuring out their opponent and developing their best plan of attack. It makes some sense if you think about how the Hawks are constructed – their precision offense and ball movement can slowly solve a team’s defense over the course of a game and a long series. They don’t have the obvious iso-clear out guy to grab them key buckets. They don’t have overwhelming talent advantages at any position. They simply are a better and deeper team, emphasis on TEAM, most nights.
I think that is exactly what happens tonight at home for the Hawks. Washington has put up an amazing effort without Wall, but at some point their lack of depth and offensive weapons is going to be a big issue. They’ve masked the deficiency with Beal and Pierce playing exceptional basketball. But now the series shifts back on the road and the Hawks have the big home court edge. They are 39-7 at home. The Wizards are 20-25 on the road. Edge Hawks. I like them to win and cover tonight and take firm control of the series and put huge heat on the Wiz to rush Wall back for a Game Six elimination game.