The 2016 NBA playoffs have been rather interesting thus far, as we’ve seen two big upsets in the early going with the Indiana Pacers stealing game one from the Toronto Raptors and the Dallas Mavericks somehow snagging game two from the Oklahoma City Thunder.
On the flip side, the Spurs destroyed the Grizzlies, the Cavs topped the Pistons and through two games the Warriors have done as they should against the Rockets. Two blips hover over the radar, but for the most part, everything is as it should be. The big question, of course, is if that trend continues tonight.
The playoffs quiet down some on Tuesday night with just two games scheduled, but there is still at least one game that could be up in the air. Let’s take a look at both of tonight’s matchups and see which way we should be leaning with our picks:
Boston Celtics @ Atlanta Hawks
Line: Hawks -6.5 Total: 205.5
Boston was as ferocious as we expected going into their first round series with the Hawks, as they pushed Atlanta to their limits in a narrow 102-101 loss in game one. This proved a couple of things right off the bat: the Hawks aren’t invincible and Boston may not go quietly into the night.
Isaiah Thomas also proved that Jeff Teague’s strong defense won’t stop him from scoring in this series, as he dropped 27 points and 8 dimes in a stellar performance. Jae Crowder and Avery Bradley were also both fantastic, but Bradley will miss game two and possibly longer with a hamstring issue.
Avery Bradley not here. Ruled out for tomorrow. Will have an MRI Wednesday according to Stevens.
— Jay King (@ByJayKing) April 18, 2016
That puts even more pressure on Thomas offensively, and should also ask more out of Crowder and Marcus Smart, defensively.
That still shouldn’t drown Boston’s hopes, as they matchup fairly well with the Hawks. The real issue will remain down low, where the Celtics’ bigs may continue to have trouble with Paul Millsap and Al Horford. Atlanta does not rebound the ball well, though, so if the Celtics can give a little extra effort in that department and keep their defense tight, they could stage an upset in game two.
Pick: Celtics 103, Hawks 100
Memphis Grizzlies @ San Antonio Spurs
Line: Spurs -18 Total: 187
Memphis looked completely over-matched coming into their first round series with the Spurs and that was never more obvious in game one. The Grizzlies just couldn’t do anything right, as Vince Carter was their only starter who scored in double figures in a crushing 32-point road loss. This wasn’t a surprise considering the Spurs lost just one game at home all season (to the Warriors) and Memphis is trying to make its way through round one without Mike Conley or Marc Gasol.
The Grizzlies only realistic shot in this series is somehow stealing a close game at home. They have no chance to win in San Antonio and it’s extremely likely they’ll be getting swept. There is no denying their grit, but Zach Randolph is going to have a very tough time scoring consistently with Tim Duncan and LaMarcus Aldridge in his grill, while Vince Carter and Lance Stephenson will continue to get heavy doses of Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green.
There is also the issue at the point for Memphis, as Jordan Farmer is their only real option other than using Stephenson there. Needless to say, Memphis is no lock to even hit 90 points against an elite defense in this series. The only way for them to even keep it close is to play smothering defense themselves, and they’re without two of their very best defenders. We fully expect a sweep and it’s tough to imagine Memphis putting up much of a fight. Am -18 spread is tough to accept, but Memphis is just that depleted right now.
Pick: Spurs 104, Grizzlies 85