If you didn’t need to know already, the National Basketball Association likes to ‘stretch’ their seven game series’ out just a bit. The fact that these teams play 82 games in the regular season and many times on back to back nights is apparently lost on the NBA’s front office.
Let’s not be totally naive here because making a seven game series last three weeks is about two things; money and attention. Oh well, nothing is going to change is it? On to the games.
Indiana (-2) at Atlanta, Hawks Lead 2-1 - We’ve known for some time that the game of basketball at the collegiate and professional levels has changed drastically. The game has gone from one dominated by big, talented centers to one driven by guard and forward play. Indiana has tried to stay true to the old way with Roy Hibbert but it isn’t happening.
For a man who stands 7’1″ I’ve never seen a guy like this become the smallest player on the court. Hibbert has been totally ineffective on the offensive end and his defense isn’t any better. He had just two rebounds in the game three loss while the Hawks’ Paul Millsap collected 14 boards.
Frank Vogel is coaching for his job and if he truly realizes this then he’ll go with Luis Scola more often than he does Hibbert. If not for Scola, this would be a three game deficit for the Pacers. Hibbert is not the only problem by far for Indiana and I just don’t have any confidence in this team any longer. Take the Hawks getting the two points.
San Antonio (-3) at Dallas, Series Tied 1-1 - Surprisingly, we’ve seen this before. The Spurs, who look so dominant during the regular season, suddenly look more pedestrian in the playoffs. Despite sweeping the Mavericks in all four regular season games this season, the Spurs find themselves tied at one and heading into Big D.
The Mavericks forced 24 very uncharacteristic turnovers and held Tim Duncan to just 11 points after he scored 27 in game one. I fully expect a more ‘Spurs-like’ performance in game three. Take the Spurs to cover today.
Miami (-5.5) at Charlotte, Heat Leads 2-0 - The Bobcats may be down 2-0, but they’ve got the Heat focused on things besides winning. LeBron James and the rest of the team are whining about Charlotte fouling too hard and being overly physical. It would appear that James doesn’t recall what Michael Jordan went through when he and the Bulls played the Detroit Pistons.
The physical play is only going to get worse because the Bobcats now know they are in the heads of the Miami Heat. This game sets up perfectly for a Charlotte win because Miami always seems to lay an egg during their earlier playoff series.
Take the Bobcats getting the points and don’t be surprised if they win.
Oklahoma City (-3.5) at Memphis, Grizzlies Lead 2-1 - Is there any team with more intestinal fortitude than the Memphis Grizzlies? They’ve had big leads in both games two and three only to see the Thunder come back. That’s when the Grizzlies persevered though and came away with the wins.
I expect the Thunder to play with some urgency tonight in the hopes of getting out to an early lead but this Memphis team has been one of the better teams in the NBA over the last couple of months. All of the pressure in this series is on the Thunder and already Russell Westbrook is chirping about the media.
That tells me there is some doubt. Take Memphis tonight getting the 3.5 points.