How strange it is to be breaking down games where the road team was victorious in all three series? In the history of the National Basketball Association when using this format, teams that take game one go on to capture the series 77% of the time.
Quite frankly, that’s a stunner. For the Hawks, Nets and Wizards, they’ve already accomplished their first goal; to take away home court advantage and at worst gain a split in the first two games on the road.
Don’t think however that this means these three will take it easy tonight because what’s a better than a split? How about a two games to zero lead in their respective series? Let’s get to the games.
Atlanta (+7) at Indiana, Hawks Lead 1-0 – Despite splitting the season series with the top-seeded Pacers, few gave the Atlanta Hawks any chance of winning the opening round of the Eastern Conference Playoffs.
The Hawks didn’t just win game one over Indiana, they controlled the game as well which is something that Frank Vogel and Larry Bird could not have imagined happening. What Atlanta did in game one was not rocket science; they spread the floor and allowed Jeff Teague to create. It also limited what Roy Hibbert could do as well.
The Pacers must avoid the swoons that have affected them so often in the second half of games recently. The bug hit them again in the third quarter of game one. I like the Hawks getting the points, but Indiana is in a must-win situation and I believe they will do just that.
Brooklyn (+4.5) at Toronto, Nets Lead 1-0 – How often in sports do we talk about experience? Sometimes it’s applied way too much while in other cases it isn’t discussed nearly enough.
The Nets won game one of this series almost entirely based on experience and you could argue the Toronto Raptors lost game one because of a lack of it. While Deron Williams and Joe Johnson each had 24 points, it was the scoring of veteran Paul Pierce late that was the difference.
The question now is whether or not the Raptors can learn on the job. What worries me if I’m Toronto is that Brooklyn was brutal from three-point territory. If that picks up the Raptors are in serious trouble.
That said, DeMar DeRozan will be better than in game one and he is ultimately the difference. Take the Raptors to cover.
Washington (+5) at Chicago, Wizards Lead 1-0 – If you would have told Chicago Head Coach Tom Thibodeau that Washington guards Bradley Beal and John Wall would combine to short 7 for 25 in game one he would have taken it. That’s exactly what he got but it was the ‘bigs’ that did his Bulls in.
Nene and fellow big man Marcin Gortat each had their way with the Bulls in the paint. Nene recorded 24 points and eight boards but his most important contribution was consistently knocking down mid-range jumpers. Gortat went for 15 points and 13 rebounds which included five offensive boards. This cannot happen if Chicago is going to even this series this evening.
In terms of what Chicago can do offensively, this is a bit more troubling. They just don’t have a guy who can be looked to when the need a bucket. Joakim Noah had a double-double of ten and ten but he needs more help from his teammates. D.J. Augustin had 16 off the bench but was three of fifteen shooting.
Thibodeau is an excellent coach and I believe he will make the right adjustments tonight to get his team even. Take the Bulls and give the points this evening.