As the First Round Goes On, the Games Get More Important

Harden

James Harden and the Rockets head to Dallas up two games to none.

The first round of the NBA Playoffs are now in full swing. Only the San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Clippers are tied at one game apiece. The other seven series all have a team with a 2-0 lead. Don’t be surprised if some of those series become more competitive starting tonight.

Houston (+1) at Dallas – Chandler Parson is out. Rajon Rondo is out to lunch. Such are the problems with the Dallas Mavericks as they host the Rockets down 0-2. I really thought the Mavericks were primed to take this series thinking that getting to the playoffs is what they’ve been waiting for.

It hasn’t turned out that way. Dwight Howard and James Harden have been too much for them to handle and it’s going to be hard for Dallas to win four of six against these guys especially with the turmoil and injury issues.

Trends: Houston is 7-1 straight up in their last eight games against the Mavericks… Dallas is 6-16 against the spread in their last 22 games… The Rockets are 2-8 SU in their last 10 games in Dallas… The Mavs are 1-6 ATS in their last seven games against Houston.

The Pick: I see little life in these Mavericks so give me the Rockets and the point.

Lowry

Kyle Lowry needs to get his Raptors going if they are going to get back into the series in Washington.

Toronto (+4) at Washington – I was confident this would be a nice series but I didn’t see the Wizards going into Toronto and winning both games. Now the series shifts to Washington where the Wizards have all the confidence in the world while the Raptors are scrambling for their playoff lives.

The Raptors can help themselves out by hitting more of their three-pointers. In game two, they were just 7 of 18. If they aren’t going to dominate more in the paint, and right now that’s a wash, then they are going to struggle to even win a game in this series.

Trends: Toronto is 20-20-1 against the spread on the road this season… Washington is 17-23-1 ATS at home in the 2014-2015 season… Over their last ten games against each other, both teams are averaging exactly 7.2 steals per game.

The Pick: I think Toronto gets back in it. Take them with the points.

LA Clippers (+4) at San Antonio – The Spurs got a huge performance from the ageless wonder Tim Duncan in an overtime win in game two. His long-time teammate Tony Parker left in the fourth with an Achilles’ injury. What do the two have to do with each other? At their age, can they both recover in time for a quick turnaround to game three?

The Clippers really believe they gave game two away and I can’t disagree. They should have closed out the Spurs in the fourth quarter but let it get to overtime and now they are tied 1-1. The good news is that I get the feeling the Clips feel good about how they’ve played the Spurs and that might not bode well for the Spurs.

Where San Antonio gained an advantage though was in the point where they turned a game one deficit into a surplus of 10 in game two. As crucial as guard play is, the bigs will still settle this series.

Trends: The Clippers are 22-19 against the spread on the road this season… The Spurs are 21-18-2 ATS at home during the 2014-2015 season… In ten games against each other, both teams have each made 78 three-point shots.

The Pick: Give me the Clips and the points.

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