Every playoff game is important. But tonight there are two huge games for teams that expected to last a round or two that they can ill-afford to drop. The Toronto Raptor lost a stunning seventh consecutive series opening game on Saturday, a home game in overtime to the Wizards, and now find themselves in dire straights – absolutely HAVING to win Game Two to avoid a 2-0 hole with three road games left in the series. Kyle Lowry spent overtime on the bench in Game One having fouled out and was helpless to watch the Raptors offensive struggles. Meanwhile, the Mavericks were beaten relatively easily by instate rival Houston in Game One. Losing two road games wouldn’t be the end of the world, but if they can’t find a way to bounce back tomorrow night in Houston, it is difficult to see them rallying to win four of five and advance.
So will either team get the win the desperately need tonight? (Yes, the Cavs and Celtics play as well, but I’m not convinced that series has more than five games in it for the young, star-less C’s)
At the time of writing, I am not sure yet if yesterday’s over Golden State/ NOLA pick hit (it’s on pace and looking good), so we are either looking for a bounce back or building on a three-game winning streak to start the 2015 Playoffs. Let’s dive in to tonight’s free pick and find a winner either way.
Today’s Free Pick:
Washington Wizards at Toronto Raptors -5
The Raptors looked pretty pedestrian in Game One, but over the course of the season they have been a pretty good home team. “We the North” needs to defend that Northern home turf tonight to avoid a disastrous 0-2 hole. Meanwhile, the Wizards have been pretty average on the road, and were frankly pretty fortunate to win Game One with the abysmal shooting of Wall and Beal. On the season they were just 18-24 away from home while the Raps were a decent 27-15 at home. I think that nine game discrepancy is more evident tonight.
Toronto was +4.1 ppg at home this season while the Wizards were -4.3 on the road. The Wizards, despite a nice road win Saturday, are just 6-13 ATS in their last 19 against Toronto. Both teams were ugly from the floor. Toronto shot just 38% Saturday, a number that should dramatically improve in Game Two on their home floor. Washington was just 39.4%, so not much better, but I favor the home team getting more of a regression to the norm tonight. On the season, Toronto shot close to 46% from the floor and over 78% from the line. Washington isn’t an elite defensive team, so I’m more willing to chalk Game One’s struggles offensively up to a bad night.
This series should go pretty deep, as neither team has a decisive personnel advantage. Look for things to get knotted up at a game apiece after the Raps defend The North.