Friday night didn’t disappoint when it came to NBA playoff action – at least the first game didn’t. The Dallas Mavericks poured in 70 points at the break and did all they could to stave off the Houston Rockets, but Monta Ellis’ last jumper only hit the backboard and the Rockets took a 3-0 series lead behind a crazy 130-128 road win. We called that game correctly, along with the other two, as the Wiz buried the Raptors in a 3-0 hole and the Spurs dominated the Clippers at home to take control of their series, 2-1. That gave us a 3-0 run on the night and lifted our playoff NBA picks record up to 20-2.
We can see our first group of playoff series come to an end today, as the Bulls try to sweep the Bucks in Milwaukee and the Warriors can do the same against the Pelicans in New Orleans. The Nets and Blazers, meanwhile, head back home to avoid 3-0 holes. Let’s break down all four games and see if any of the underdogs can fight back tonight:
Atlanta Hawks (1) @ Brooklyn Nets (8)
Brooklyn tends to play their best ball at the Barclays Center, but they’re not elite in any facet, so it’s tough to roll with them simply because they’re at home. They’ve actually played the Hawks fairly well, but the matchup between Al Horford and Brook Lopez still isn’t ideal and Deron Williams has yet to have a truly good game this series. If Lopez wins his individual matchup and D-Will can actually hit some shots, sure the Nets would have a chance. But it’s a slim one.
Pick: Hawks 104, Nets 101
Chicago Bulls (3) @ Milwaukee Bucks (6)
Milwaukee did all they could to make this a series at home in game three, but Chicago showed up offensively where they failed defensively. Derrick Rose is in prime form and the rest of the Bulls are chipping in as needed. Look for Chicago to buckle down defensively in game four and get the sweep.
Pick: Bulls 103, Bucks 96
Golden State Warriors (1) @ New Orleans Pelicans (8)
The Pelicans have done a great job pushing the NBA’s best team to the limit, as the Warriors needed major heroics from Stephen Curry to win game three. That’s got to be the writing on the wall, though, when you have a team backed into a corner and can’t finish the job. New Orleans knows this series is over, so I wouldn’t be shocked to see a blowout win by Golden State to get them to the next round.
Pick: Warriors 109, Pelicans 88
Memphis Grizzlies (4) @ Portland Trail Blazers (5)
Memphis has been in full control in this series and the Blazers don’t look like they have much of a shot at making this a real series. That being said, Portland has to have one great game out of Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge in their back pocket, and it’d only make sense it’d show up in Rip City. The Blazers don’t have the defense or depth anymore to challenge the Grizz long-term, but they can at least show up and execute tonight.
Pick: Blazers 107, Grizz 104