Celtics, Raptors and Mavericks All Looking for Life




Could this be it for Dirk Nowtizki and the Mavericks?

Three teams could be headed for the offseason if they don’t turn things around today in the first round of the NBA Playoffs.

Cleveland (-7.5) at Boston – I know it’s hard to swallow but if I’m a Boston Celtics’ fan and I’m down 0-3, there is actually something to be positive about. These Celtics under Brad Stevens have made tremendous strides this season and really have given the Cavaliers a lot more than most people thought they would.

If we stay in the present however, the Cavaliers are a win away from advancing to a huge showdown with Chicago and I guarantee if they get past the Bulls, they’ll be grateful they had the competition they did from Boston.

Trends: Cleveland is 1-4 against the spread in their last five games on the road… Boston is 6-3 straight up in their last nine games… The Cavaliers are 5-2 SU in their last seven games in Boston… The Celtics have won 17 of their last 23 games at home against the Cavs.

The Pick: Take the Celtics getting the points.


Doc Rivers can only hope to be smiling after game four tonight.

LA Clippers (+6) at San Antonio – The Clippers were outrebounded by just nine and were dead-even in points in the paint with the Spurs at 40 apiece. At one point in game three however they trailed by 37 points. Hard to believe following the two excellent games the teams played in Los Angeles. When you’re held to 34% shooting and 26% in three-point shooting, it really doesn’t matter what else you may be even in with your opponent.

The Spurs turned up the defense and hit early shots to put the Clippers away before they even got their sneakers squeaky in game three. Obviously the Clips know they can’t go down 3-1 so I expect them to give every effort to make sure they are even going back to Cali. That said, if they should fall and go on to lose the series, questions will intensify about just how tough this Clippers team is.

We’ll see how they fare before we go there though.

Trends: The Clippers are 3-6 against the spread in their last nine games against the Spurs… San Antonio is 5-0 straight up in their last five games at home.

The Pick: I’ll take the Clips to bounce back.

Toronto (+5.5) at Washington – Done. Over. Get me the fork because the Toronto Raptors are fully cooked. Yes teams have come back from 0-3 deficits before but it’s not happening in this series and the biggest reason why happens to be 37 years old.

Paul Pierce isn’t ready to hit the rocking chair yet and he’s playing like it. I don’t see him letting this team fall.

Trends: Toronto is 0-5 against the spread in their last five games… Washington is 8-3 straight up in their last 11 games.

The Pick: Give me the Wizards to cover and close out the series.

Houston (-2.5) at Dallas – When you have one player who scores 42 points and another who grabs 26 rebounds I would say your chances of winning that game are pretty darn good. That was the case for Houston in game three as James Harden poured in 42 points and Dwight Howard recorded all those rebounds and they needed every one of both for the two-point win.

I give Dallas credit; I honestly thought between Chandler Parsons’ absence and Rajon Rondo’s ineffectiveness that the Mavs would just pack it in but they didn’t. That said, I don’t expect this series to return to Houston and that’s a shame. I thought this was going to be a classic.

Trends: Houston is 7-1 straight up in their last eight games against the Mavericks… Dallas is 6-2-1 against the spread in their last nine games against the Rockets.

The Pick: I’ll take the Rockets to cover.


Two Early NBA Playoff Games on Saturday


Saturday’s slate of NBA playoffs game is big with four on tap. The first two feature the Atlanta Hawks traveling to play the Brooklyn Nets and the Chicago Bulls visiting the Milwaukee Bucks.

 Atlanta vs. Brooklyn

The current line has Atlanta favored by 2.5 points with the point total on 201. The Hawks lead the series 2-0 but did not cover the spread in Games 1 and 2. The Hawks in Game 1 were 11-.5 point chalk and won by 7. In Game 2, Atlanta was favored by 9.5 points and won by 5. The total cashed on the UNDER in both games.

Atlanta started the season strong on the road, but ended 8-11 straight up and 6-12-1 against the spread.

Brooklyn proved in Games 1 and 2 it can stay with the No. 1 seed Atlanta, although they must have more consistency from Deron Williams their point guard, who scored just two points in Game 2. Brook Lopez must neutralize the strong inside game of the Hawks.

Brooklyn in its past 9 home games is 7-2 SU while 6-2-1 ATS.

Even though the series is 2-0 in the favor of Atlanta, the Hawks have not dominated either game. However, the Hawks could put it together today and blow out the Nets. The total continues to move downward.

The points should remain UNDER and the Hawks should cover.

Chicago vs. Milwaukee

The current line on this game is Chicago -4.5, with the point total on 188.5. Chicago leads this series 3-0.

Chicago has brought its brooms for Game 4 with a sweep well within the realm of possibilities. The Bulls defeated the Bucks in Game 3 in Thursday in double overtime 113-106 as 2.5-point chalk. The Bulls have covered each of the first three games of the series and this season is a strong 6-1 ATS versus the Bucks.

The 190 points scored between the two teams was enough to cash the OVER. The OVER has cashed in two of the three games thus far in the series.

Chicago has become much more dangerous as Derrick Rose has returned and is playing superbly. Rose scored 34 points in Game 3 while handing out 8 assists.

The Bucks played valiantly on Thursday but came up short. The young team is very inexperienced and it is unknown how they will react in Game 4 being down 3-0 in the series.

The play on this is the UNDER and a lean toward the Bucks and the points.

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


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.


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.


NBA Playoff Action in the East and West on Tap Tonight




Can Deron Williams get the Nets back to Brooklyn with the series tied one game apiece?

The NBA Playoffs are in full swing so here’s the latest on tonight’s three games.

Brooklyn (+9.5) at Atlanta – The Atlanta Hawks lead this series 1-0 but they are like an army taking on heavy casualties. Center Al Horford has a banged up finger on his shooting hand and Paul Millsap is still dealing with a shoulder injury. I don’ think these issues will keep the Hawks from advancing in this round but I don’t think it bodes well for their future match-ups.

The Nets were nicely balanced in game one but they need to make their free throws and three-point shots. They shot just 66% from the charity stripe and were just five of 20 from downtown. Both of those things have to change. If that improves and the guys in the paint can control things they way they did in game one then the Nets aren’t out of this yet.

Trends: Brooklyn is 0-5 straight up in their last five games against the Hawks… Atlanta is 1-3-1 against the spread in their last five games… The Nets are 2-4 ATS in their last six games against Atlanta… The Hawks are 22-3 straight up in their last 25 games at home.

The Pick: I really like the Nets getting the points tonight.


LaMarcus Aldridge needs some help if the Blazers are going to tie the series.

Portland (+7) at Memphis – You certainly can’t pint any fingers at Blazers’ big man LaMarcus Aldridge. He pumped in 32 points and grabbed 14 rebounds in his team’s loss in game one. The problem is that only two other guys were in double-figures and the highest of those two totals was just 15 points. Damian Lillard must do better than five of 21 shooting in order for this series to go back to Portland tied.

The Grizzlies have clearly noticed that without Wesley Matthews the Blazers just aren’t the threat from the outside they could be. Therefore, the Grizzlies are packing things in and that explains their dominance in the paint. I look for more of that in game two.

The other thing to look for more of is balance and that’s where the Grizzlies had a strong advantage.

Trends: Portland is 0-5 straight up in their last five games… Memphis is 5-1 SU in their last six games at home… The Blazers are 1-4 against the spread in their last five games at Memphis… The Grizzlies are 6-11-1 ATS in their last 18 games at home against the Blazers.

The Pick: I like the Grizzlies to cover tonight.

San Antonio (+2) at LA Clippers – Lost in the Blake Griffin-dunk fest from game one was the fact that Chris Paul poured in 32 points. If that combination continues the defending champion Spurs could be in big trouble. Despite outrebounding the Clips by three, the Spurs failed to own the paint. I feel very confident that you won’t see Griffin exploiting the Spurs quite the way he did in game one.

San Antonio had decent balance in game one but if a guy like Boris Diaw is going to shoot 12 times he needs to make more than just two shots. The young guys have to pick up the slack as Tim Duncan and Tony Parker are limited by age and fatigue. That means Kawhi Leonard and company have to get to the basket.

Trends: San Antonio is 4-2 straight up in their last six games on the road… The Clippers are 1-5 against the spread in their last six games at home… The Spurs are 15-5 straight up in their last 20 games at the Clippers… LAC is 7-1 SU in their last eight home games.

The Pick: Hard to see the champs go down 0-2 but I think they will. Take the Clips tonight.


Updated NBA Championship Futures as Playoffs Get Underway


The NBA playoffs are underway as 16 teams are playing in the conference quarterfinals. That means odds makers are constantly updating their NBA Championship futures and releasing their futures each Monday.

This week after just one game played in the division series, odds makes made some adjustments to the championship odds.

The Los Angeles Clippers were underdogs against the San Antonio Spurs when their series opened this past weekend, despite holding the home court advantage.

However, the Clippers had their odds shortened to 8 to 1 from 14 to 1 to win the NBA title after they defeated San Antonio in Game 1 of the series Sunday night.

At the same time, the futures price for the Spurs moved the other way doubling to 8 to 1 from 4 to 1.

Memphis another Western Conference team on Sunday routed the Portland Trail Blazers and their futures price was subsequently shortened to 20 to 1 from their previous 25 to 1, while the Trail Blazers price went to 100 to 1 from 50 to 1.

The Golden State Warriors have now passed the Cleveland Cavaliers as the odds on favorite to win the NBA title. The Warriors have a 2-0 series lead over the New Orleans Pelicans after defeating the Pelicans in Game 2 on Monday night.

The Warriors showed they could play defense in the first two games of the series by holding the Pelicans on Monday night with high scoring Anthony Davis to just 87 points thanks to Draymond Green. Golden State is now 7 to 4 to win the NBA title moving from last week’s 5 to 2.

The Cavaliers lead their series with the Boston Celtics 1-0 and will play Game 2 on Tuesday. Cleveland’s odds to win the title are now 12 to 5 after being 9 to 4 last week. Atlanta was victorious in its Game 1 against Brooklyn and moved from 12 to 1 to 10 to 1.

SPURS 8 to 1
HAWKS 10 to 1
BULLS 14 to 1
ROCKETS 14 to 1
WIZARDS 60 to 1
RAPTORS 80 to 1
BLAZERS 100 to 1
MAVERICKS 100 to 1
PELICANS 300 to 1
NETS 500 to 1
CELTICS 500 to 1
BUCKS 500 to 1


Milwaukee, New Orleans Facing Must-Win Game Twos


Derrick Rose had a very nice return to the Playoffs in game one. Can he do it again?

If we’ve learned anything over time, it’s that 2-0 leads in any seven-game series are not exactly “sure things.” With that said, neither the Milwaukee Bucks nor the New Orleans Pelicans really want to find out.

Both teams face crucial contests on the road tonight in an effort to get their series even. Should they fail, the best thing they can say is that at least they are both headed home.

Milwaukee (+7.5) at Chicago – Derrick Rose hadn’t played in a postseason game since 2012 but he looked pretty comfortable in the Bulls’ game one win over Milwaukee. He had 23 points and seven assists which complimented nicely the 25 points by teammate Jimmy Butler. The type of balance will be difficult for the Bucks to deal with going forward.

In order for the bucks to gain a split in this series they need to shoot the ball better. Their overall field goal percentage was just 39% while their three-point shooting was even worse at just 25% on four of 12 shooting from downtown. To be fair, a lot of that has to do with the defense of the Chicago Bulls. They out-rebounded the Bucks 52-41 and also outscored them 42-36 in points in the paint.

While Rose and Butler were a formidable duo, Milwaukee has to find some scoring from someone. While they had five players in double-figures, they leading scorer among them (Khris Middleton) only had 18 points. The balance is nice but numbers have to be larger in order for Milwaukee to have a chance in this series.

Trends: The Bulls are 8-2 straight up in their last ten games against the Bucks… Chicago is third best in the NBA at giving up three-point baskets with 6.6 allowed per game.

The Pick: The Bucks realize what’s at stake and I think they cover in this one.


Anthony Davis had 35 points in game one but he needs help if the Pelicans are to even the series.

New Orleans (+11) at Golden State – The Warriors rolled to an early lead in game one of the series and were never really threatened in the 106-99 win. New Orleans’ Anthony Davis had 35 points but just seven rebounds. That was in part due to the efforts of the Warriors’ Andrew Bogut and Draymond Green. Those two combined for 26 rebounds between the two of them. With Steph Curry tossing in 34 points and Klay Thompson adding 21, the overall balance of the Warriors was too much for the Pelicans to overcome.

If I’m the Warriors I have two key concerns; one is free throw shooting where as a team they made just 61%. That isn’t going to beat better teams. The other area is the bench. This is a team used to getting leads and then watching its’ bench maintain things. That wasn’t the case in game one.

If I’m the Pelicans, I have to find Davis some help. The other leading scorers for New Orleans had 20, 16 and eight points. Someone has to step up because Golden State will do everything to limit Davis.

Trends: Golden State is 9-1 straight up in their last ten games versus the Pelicans… New Orleans is 3-6-1 against the spread in their last ten games against the Warriors.

The Pick: I took the Warriors to cover in game one and they should have. I’ll put my faith in them one more time and take them to cover.


Four Games in the Spotlight as the NBA Playoffs Begin


John Wall and the Wizards face a tall task against Toronto.

Washington (+4.5) at Toronto – The Raptors won all three meetings with the Wizards this season and it’s tough to ignore that heading into the Playoffs. Both teams are good are at different things which could provide a more even series than many expect. Guard play will be the key to the series but the guys doing the grunt work in the paint could ultimately decide things.

Trends: Washington is 4-1-1 against the spread in their last six games… Toronto is 2-5 ATS in their last seven games… The Raptors are 7-1 straight up in their last eight games against the Wizards… Washington has dropped 15 of their last 19 on the road.

Game Pick/Series Pick: Like the Raptors to cover and to win the series in six games.

Milwaukee (+7.5) at Chicago – The Bulls won the season series 3-1 and if we know anything about these two teams it’s that there will be some serious defense played. The Bucks were the second best defensive unit in the NBA this season while the Bulls were 11th. The difference in this series? Look to the offensive side of things where the Bulls were a top ten offense while the Bucks ranked 25th.

One other major factor? Youth. The Bucks are incredibly young while the Bulls are loaded with guys with playoff experience and they get Derrick Rose back as well.

Trends: Milwaukee has lost 11 of their last 14 games on the road… Chicago is unbeaten in their last five home games… The bucks are 1-5 against the spread in their last six games against the Bulls… Chicago is 15-4 straight up in their last 19 games at home against Milwaukee.

Game Pick/Series Pick: I like the Bucks getting the points. Give me the Bulls in five for the series.


MVP candidate Steph Curry leads the Warriors against the Pelicans today.

New Orleans (+11.5) at Golden State – The Warriors took the season series 3-1 but rising superstar Anthony Davis only played in two of those contests. Will that matter? It’s hard to say because this truly is a “David and Goliath” type of series. Both teams are very good offensively; the Warriors rank second while the Pelicans are ninth.

Things change drastically on the defensive end though where Golden State is the top-ranked defense in the league while New Orleans is 22nd. Don’t be surprised to see Davis have a big series but the combo of Steph Curry and Klay Thompson is just too much.

Trends: New Orleans has won eight of their last 11 games… Golden State is 1-6 against the spread in their last seven games… The Pelicans are 1-10 straight up in their last 11 games against the Warriors… Golden State is 5-0 SU in their last five games at home versus New Orleans.

Game Pick/Series Pick: Give me the Warriors to cover and I’ll take them to win the series in four games.

Dallas (+5.5) at Houston – The Rockets won the season series 3-1 but these two Lone Star state rivals won’t worry much about that. Throw in the fact that Marc Cuban is already talking smack and you’ve got yourself a potential classic. The teams are pretty evenly matched as the Mavs have a slight offensive advantage while the Rockets hold a edge on the defensive end.

We know what guys like James Harden, Dirk Nowitzki and Rajon Rondo can do but I think this series is ultimately settled by the play of Dwight Howard.

Trends: Dallas is 6-14 against the spread in their last 20 games… The Rockets are 10-3 straight up over their last 13 games… The Mavs are 1-4 SU in their last five games against Houston… The Rockets have won four of their last five home games against the Mavericks.

Game Pick/Series Pick: I like the Mavs getting the points and give me them to pull the series’ upset in seven games.