The four teams playing tonight in the National Bastketball Association playoffs probably paid more than little attention to yesterday’s San Antonio-Golden State game four. With the Warriors trailing two games to one, it didn’t take a rocket scientist long to figure out that evening the series was of paramount concern.
For the Chicago Bulls and Oklahoma City Thunder, they face the same situation tonight in game four action. For Chicago, as of this writing, it appears that Kirk Hinrich and Luol Deng will both be sitting out this game and please don’t even ask me about Derrick Rose… The Bulls have been valiant to be sure, but I think Head Coach Tom Thibodeau has over-played his hand. I believe he stuck to the ‘pound them at all costs’ game-plan a bit too long and has back-fired.
I’m not saying that Chicago doesn’t need to be physical, but they can’t afford to get technicals and get kicked out of games. They just aren’t deep enough nor do they have the talent period to match up with Miami. What Thibodeau needs to do is circle the wagons without wasting all of his bullets. Making the Heat work for every shot and then making them defend at the other end is this team’s only chance of eveninig the series.
In Memphis, the Thunder have obviously dealt with the Russell Westbrook injury as well as they possibly can but Kevin Durant cannot do it all. Perhaps the biggest letdown in this series has been big man Serge Ibaka who normally is an excellent mid-range shooter. He is struggling with his shot and is well below 50% in shooting percentage.
If you asked me of the Bulls and Thunder who I believe can afford to go down 3-1 more I would say Oklahoma City simply because they have a superstar in Durant and they aren’t nearly as banged up. Chicago going back to South Beach down 3-1 might as well be a death sentence even with their game one win there.
Miami at Chicago (Heat lead series 2-1) – Pretty amazing if Miami wins this game behind another very average performance by LeBron James. Granted, James hardly saw the floor in the second half of the gaem two blowout, but even then he has been failry ‘un-LeBron-like.’ I don’t expect that to continue. Chicago has obviously taken the ‘Jordan Rules’ approach with LeBron which means get a body on him at all times and do so physically.
James is 250 lbs though and unless it checks him out mentally which I don’t see happening, he will use it as motivation and that could be bad news for the Bulls. The Heat enter tonight as eight point favorites and while I see them winning, I think the Bulls leave it on the floor and keep it close. I would also play the under on 187.
Oklahoma City at Memphis (Grizzlies lead series 2-1) – In 2011, these two dueled ina seven game series that Oklahoma City eventually won. The biggest game of the series was probably game four when the Thunder, trailing 2-1, won a triple overtime thriller. While many of the names and faces have changed, amy have not. I expect Memphis to be ready to go tonight at home and to have the thought of wasted opportunities back in 2011 at the fore-front.
The Grizzlies enter at four and half point favorites which tells me the odds-makers just aren’t quite sure which way this one is going to go. I know the direction I like and that’s to take the Grizzlies to win and cover.