The Spurs wouldn’t be denied. Tim Duncan braved the storm in L.A. to keep San Antonio from falling into a 2-0 hole by taking down the Clippers in overtime. That gave us a 3-0 sweep on Wednesday night, too, lifting our NBA picks record to 14-2 in the playoffs. Perhaps these playoffs have been fairly easy to call so far, but regardless, we’re not sad about the way we’ve kicked things off.
Things might get a bit tricky on Thursday night, as three series shift to the underdog’s home stadium. The Celtics, Pelicans and Bucks are all candidates to get swept if they don’t win tonight, but now that they’re all on their home floor, they also have a chance to get their first win of the playoffs. The question is, which ones will get a win – if any? Let’s break down all three matchups and hand in our NBA picks for Thursday, 4/23/2015:
Cleveland Cavaliers (2) @ Boston Celtics (7)
Boston kept game two fairly close, but for the second game in a row just couldn’t handle the Cavs in the fourth quarter when it mattered most. Experts were worried about Cleveland having enough experience to do damage in the playoffs this year, but it’s the Celtics who lack the killer instinct. Boston might have a tiny edge when the series shifts back to their house tonight, but LeBron James has his guys realizing that they have to step their game up for game three. Look for them to do that as they get one step closer to a 4-0 sweep.
Pick: Cavs 109, Celtics 102
Chicago Bulls (3) @ Milwaukee Bucks (6)
Milwaukee’s defense keeps them around early but their offense fails them late. That’s been the story as they’ve gone down two games to none against the Bulls and it’s probably going to stay that way in Milwaukee. Chicago actually plays much better on the road by the numbers this year and Michael Carter-Williams has been ice cold. On the other side, he can’t seem to contain Derrick Rose. Rose appears to be ready for a deep run and is in a groove, so it’s hard to see Chicago faltering. They will be without Nikola Mirotic for game three, but his minutes were already limited so the Bulls shouldn’t skip a beat.
Pick: Bulls 104, Bucks 98
Golden State Warriors (1) @ New Orleans Pelicans (8)
I’m not seeing the home teams finding much luck tonight. All three of these series are mismatches, while the Pelicans specifically are hanging by a thread. Tyreke Evans isn’t 100%, Jrue Holiday is ailing and may miss a second straight game and Ryan Anderson has given them nothing. It’s basically Anthony Davis all by himself and that’s not going to beat the Warriors. Golden State is much more vulnerable on the road, but this is still the most balanced and most explosive team in the league we’re talking about. The Pellies might stave off a sweep in game four, but Golden State is going to push them to the brink tonight.
Pick: Warriors 108, Pellies 104