Blazers, Bucks Facing Elimination Tonight

JT
JT

Can Jeff Teague and the Hawks gain a 3-1 advantage or will they head back to Atlanta tied at 2?

Atlanta (-4.5) at Brooklyn – The Nets came out flying in Game Three and then held on to beat the top-seeded Atlanta Hawks by eight to pull the series to 2-1 in favor of the Hawks. The win has to give Brooklyn some serious confidence heading into tonight’s Game Four because they played the Hawks tough in the first two games of the series in Atlanta.

While neither team was above 39% shooting from the field, the Hawks were absolutely abysmal from three-point range. They shot just 20% and top gunner Kyle Korver was 0 for 5 on the evening. Obviously that has to change dramatically because shooting the trey is such a big part of his and the Hawks’ overall offenisve game plan.

Oddly enough, Atlanta outscored the Nets 25-2 in fastbreak points and also held a 20-point advantage in points in the paint.

Trends: Atlanta is 0-5 against the spread in their last five games… Brooklyn is 8-2 straight in their last 10 games at home… The Hawks are 8-17 SU in their last 25 games at Brooklyn… The Nets are 1-7 SU in their last eight games against Atlanta.

The Pick: All signs make me think  Atlanta bounces back but I’ll take the Nets tonight getting the points.

Bulls

The Bulls need to bounce back and playing at home should help that.

Milwaukee (+8.5) at Chicago – When is the last time you saw a team win the rebounding battle with just 39 boards? That’s what happens when one team shoots almost 50% from the field and 56% from three-point territory. I guarantee you that Chicago Head Coach Tom Thibodeau will not allow his team to be so lazy on the defensive end in Game Five.

Conversely, look for the Bulls to take better care of the basketball as well. They turned the ball over 26 times in Milwaukee’s Game Four victory and I see both the defensive and offensive lapses as a result of being up 3-0.

Trends: Milwaukee is 3-7 against the spread in their last 10 games against the Bulls… Chicago is 7-1 straight up in their last eight games… The Bucks are 0-5 ATS in their last five games at Chicago… The Bulls are 9-2 SU in their last 11 games versus the Bucks.

The Pick: I like the Bulls to cover at home to end the series.

Memphis (+3) at Portland – From most reports, Memphis guard Mike Conley is looking at facial surgery. His status for the coming games is questionable at best until any medical procedures are done. Credit the Grizzlies with taking Portland’s best shot after Conley went out in the third quarter of Game Three. Credit them even more for eventually putting the Blazers away.

Portland was dominated in the paint in Game Three by a total of 48-30. If Portland is going to even stay in this series that margin has to be narrowed significantly. If you’re looking for a piece of history that might help the Blazers come back and win this series then forget it. The last time Portland came back from a 2-0 deficit was the 1977 NBA Finals.

Trends: Portland is 0-5 against the spread in their last five games… Memphis is 6-1 straight up in their last seven games on the road in Portland… The Blazers are 13-5 SU in their last 18 games at home… The Blazers have made just 21 more three-pointers than the Grizzlies over their last ten games despite attempting 117 more threes then they have.

The Pick: Despite the loss of Conley, I like Memphis to cover tonight.

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Celtics, Raptors and Mavericks All Looking for Life

DN

 

DN

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.

Rivers

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.

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Previews of Two of Four NBA Playoff Games on Sunday

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The NBA playoffs continue on Sunday with the possibility of the broom coming out as three teams look to sweep their series. Three of the four games played on Sunday could end with sweeps and in the other. San Antonio took a 2-1 lead on Friday over the Clippers. Here is a look at two of the four games.
Cavaliers vs. Celtics

Cleveland leads the series 3-0. The current line has Cleveland favored by 7.5 points with the point total sitting on 203. Even though the Celtics do not have any wins so far for their effort, the team has played well in this series.

Cleveland wants to win to get additional rest before the next series begins.

If Cleveland is able to bottle up guard Isaiah Thomas in this game as they did in Game 3, the Cavaliers will likely win and cover the 7.5-point spread. Thomas only hit 2 of his 9 shots in the game and scored only 5 points. After Thomas shot 18 times from the free throw in Games 1 and 2, he only attempted two free throws in Game 3.

After a game that was high scoring in Game 1, the past two games have cashed on the UNDER, with both games staying under 200.

Despite the Celtics being all but eliminated, Boston will continue fighting to the end. The line opened at Cleveland -5 and is up to -7.5 making it a tough call. However, the play here is the UNDER.

Clippers vs. San Antonio

The Spurs lead the series 2-1. The current line has San Antonio favored by 6.5 points with the point total on 200.

The best series thus far in the first round has been this one between the Spurs and Clippers. On Friday, the Spurs behind Kawhi Leonard routed the Clippers 100-73. Leonard scored 32 points on the night.

The Clippers scored their fewest points for the entire season and a record low for the franchise in the postseason. The series has cashed on the UNDER in 2 of 3 games. The OVER was in Game 2, which went to overtime.

The 6.5-point chalk for San Antonio is the biggest spread of this series. Los Angeles on the season was 22-19 against the spread on the road, but is now 0-1 in the postseason.

With a win, San Antonio would be on the verge of elimination the Clippers. However, the Clippers are a very talented team under the leadership of Doc Rivers.

The play her is Clippers +6.5. Off course, my thought is San Antonio will win straight up.

In the other two games, Washington can close out its series against Toronto. The Wizards lead the series 3-0. In the fourth game of the day, the Houston Rockets can eliminate the Dallas Mavericks.

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Two Early NBA Playoff Games on Saturday

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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

Harden
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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NBA Playoff Action in the East and West on Tap Tonight

Williams

 

Williams

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.

LA

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.

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Milwaukee, New Orleans Facing Must-Win Game Twos

Rose
Rose

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.

Davis

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.

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