The 2016 NBA playoffs carry on Wednesday night, as two more series take another step toward ending following a huge game five on Tuesday between the Spurs and Thunder. Golden State will have a chance to close out their second round series against the Portland Trail Blazers, while the round two series between the Heat and Raptors will get a leader in game five.
For now, that series is behind all of the others, with the two Eastern Conference goes stuck in a 2-2 tie. Toronto looks to have the mild edge with the series shifting back to Air Canada Centre, while the Dubs could put the finishing touches on a 4-1 win a day after Stephen Curry was named the NBA’s first ever unanimous league MVP. Let’s get to it:
Portland Trail Blazers (5) @ Golden State Warriors (1)
Line: -13 Total: 217
Stephen Curry returned in game four to save the Dubs, who had fallen behind early in Portland and looked like they were about to sink into an unlikely 2-2 series tie. Curry thwarted that idea off by scoring an NBA record 17 points in overtime, which naturally vaulted the defending champs to a commanding 3-1 lead. With the series shifting back to the Oracle Arena, there’s little doubt the Dubs will want to end this series before it can get interesting again.
IT’S GAME DAY! The Dubs look to close out the Blazers in Game 5.
— GoldenStateWarriors (@warriors) May 11, 2016
The Blazers have been pesky, and as we suggested before the series even started, they have matched up pretty well with Golden State. The Warriors have twice made ferocious comebacks to nab wins, though, and finally have their (and the league) MVP back and healthy. A huge Damian Lillard performance for the third game in a row could keep the Blazers alive a while longer, but what’s the point? This was never going to be an upset and the Dubs just don’t lose on their home floor very often. I find it difficult to buy into a -13 spread, though, and expected the Blazers to find until the end.
Pick: Warrior 112, Blazers 106
Miami Heat (3) @ Toronto Raptors (2)
Line: -4.5 Total: 188
This is the tough game to call, as these teams have played each other extremely tight to a 2-2 tie. That’s not a good sell. Sorry, they’ve played to three overtime games in four meetings this post-season and every single game has been decided by 7 points or less.
Waiting for Game 5 like pic.twitter.com/GunJbj017u
— Miami HEAT (@MiamiHEAT) May 11, 2016
They actually have four OT battles overall on the year and already matched up pretty well before both teams lost their star centers – Jonas Valanciunas and Hassan Whiteside. Whiteside could make his way back for game six or seven, but Jonas V is done for this round. That could be a big deal beyond game five, but for the moment it’s a wash. In fact, Toronto has the edge with these center injuries, as they actually have a very solid backup in Bismack Biyombo. He’s arguably a better defender than Valanciunas and at least in game four put forth a valiant offensive effort, as well. If he can step up again in game five at home, the Raptors may have the edge they need to fend of Miami to take the lead.
It’s tough to trust the Raptors, though. They’ve twice fallen into 0-1 holes to start off their playoff series and their once formidable regular season home record seems a little shakier now that they’re in the playoffs. Miami isn’t great on the road on the year and they are a lot more vulnerable down low than they were just a game ago, but they’re more experienced and carry a massive x-factor by the name of Dwyane Wade. Because of that, I don’t see Miami magically going away just because the scenery changed or because Toronto is the higher seed.
Instead, we should prepare for another close, gritty affair. I like Toronto’s chances of stealing the win on their home floor, but they won’t win by much if they do – the series simply won’t allow for it. Look for Miami to hang tight end beat the spread and I certainly wouldn’t be shocked if D-Wade led them to a win.
Pick: Raptors 101, Heat 97