We swung and missed with our NBA picks to get the week going on Monday night, going 0-2 and dropping to 31-11 in these playoffs. It was hard to see last night’s results coming, as the Cavaliers and Rockets both lost at home to go down 1-0 in their respective second round series. Chicago rising up and taking down a Cavs team sans Kevin Love and J.R. Smith is understandable. In fact, after seeing that game, we wouldn’t be overly shocked if a suddenly lost Cavaliers team dropped this series in six games or less. Houston getting handled by a slew of Los Angeles Clippers backups on their home floor, though, well, that’s just crazy.
The Rockets looked rusty and also ill prepared, as they took on a much tougher team after having a first round breeze against the Dallas Mavericks. Even without Chris Paul, the Clippers were tough to handle defensively and somehow put up a whopping 117 points. It’s probably a safe bet the Rockets storm back and win the second game at home to tie this series, 1-1, but this wasn’t a good start.
The Bulls and Clippers merely followed suit of what the Wizards did in game one of their series against the Atlanta Hawks, and surely hope to do again tonight in game two. The Warriors, meanwhile, look to be the only home team in these remaining four semifinals games to hold serve on their home floor. Considering Golden State has lost just two games at home all year, that remains likely. We have betting to do, though, and tonight’s two games deserve a closer look:
Washington Wizards (5) @ Atlanta Hawks (1)
Pretty much everyone was surprised when the Wizards took the Hawks down in game one. Atlanta is usually extremely tough to beat on their home floor, had appeared to get in a groove at the end of their round one series and had Washington down 10 at the break. John Wall and co. stormed back, though, and suddenly the Hawks are firmly against the ropes. A Wizards win tonight would send Atlanta reeling into game three, when the series shifts to D.C. That just isn’t going to happen. An argument can be made that these Hawks are the weakest #1 seed the NBA playoffs have seen in some time, but they’re still better than people give them credit for and they probably should have figured out a way to win game one. With their season on the line, they’ll certainly have to do that in game two.
Pick: Hawks 106, Wizards 102
Memphis Grizzlies (4) @ Golden State Warriors (1)
Mike Conley could return tonight, but his status has given birth to mixed reports. We can’t count on him to start or even play, and even if he does hit the court he could be limited or rusty. The point guard spot isn’t likely to ever be an advantage for the Grizz in this series, as Stephen Curry is beyond a handful and he’s far from the only Warriors player to worry about.
The reality is that Memphis is behind the eight ball in this series already and winning in Golden State is probably not a realistic goal. If it’d happen, Memphis would have to hope for a game seven and get it done then. Unfortunately, Klay Thompson has owned Memphis all season and Andrew Bogut should do a solid job on their best player, center Marc Gasol. I expect a little more fight out of the Grizz than we saw in game one, but the end result will be the same.
Pick: Warriors 104, Grizzlies 98