The Toronto Raptors needed to win badly last night. They didn’t. We locked down our other two picks on Tuesday night, but the Raptors failed us (and themselves) as they fell into an ugly 2-0 hole against the Washington Wizards. That should make them strong bets to win in game three with their backs against the wall, but the way they played in game two could also open the door to the Wiz pulling out the broom and getting the sweep. We could see some sweep action in the Hawks/Nets series potentially, too, although Brooklyn stormed back late in game one – enough so that we’re a tad worried about them winning at least one game.
That matchup is just one of three to hit the hardwood tonight, so we’re back at the grind as we hammer out some more NBA picks. Our 2-1 record combines with our 9-1 mark and we prepare for a 3-0 Wednesday night with our 11-2 playoff record on the line:
Brooklyn Nets (8) @ Atlanta Hawks (1)
The Nets till try to steal a win in Atlanta tonight after closing out a game one loss with a strong finish. We probably want to take the Nets somewhat seriously, given that the Hawks are pretty banged up. Both Al Horford (finger) and Paul Millsap (shoulder) aren’t quite 100% and if the Nets play at their best, they could present a problem. That being said, if Brooklyn wins a game in this series, it’s probably coming at the Barclays Center. The Nets aren’t very good on the road usually and Atlanta has been very strong at home all season. In addition, Atlanta plays much better defense and is the much more consistent and efficient team on offense, as well. I can see the Nets maybe getting one win later in the series, but tonight they’re headed for a 2-0 hole.
Pick: Hawks 107, Nets 101
Portland Trail Blazers (5) @ Memphis Grizzlies (4)
We probably shouldn’t have been all that surprised that Memphis houses the Blazers in game one. The Grizzlies are tough at home, are much healthier and are currently the vastly superior team on defense. Memphis won’t run away with this series thanks to Portland’s offense and ability to win games at home, but they’ll still probably take the series by winning all of their games in Memphis. I expect the Blazers to come out and actually give a strong fight in game two, though, especially with Arron Afflalo due back. That being said, they are beaten down and without Wes Matthews they just aren’t an elite defense anymore. C.J. McCallum also proved in game one that he may not be ready for the big stage just yet.
Pick: Grizz 105, Blazers 102
San Antonio Spurs (6) @ Los Angeles Clippers (3)
Don’t call it an upset, but the sixth seeded Spurs are a near-lock to turn around and take down the Clippers to even this series up, 1-1. L.A. played almost flawlessly in game one and looked like the favorite to take this series in less than seven games, but that’s only if that rendition of Lob City continues to show up. If the Clips can’t repeat that effort tonight they could run into a brick wall, as Tim Duncan and the Spurs are sure to respond with a vengeance. The key may be who Kawhi Leonard defends, as both Chris Paul and Blake Griffin dominated at will to start the series. Look for San Antonio to match him up on one or both during the game to throw them off. If that’s successful, the Spurs should get the win to help make this the top series to watch for the rest of the playoffs.
Pick: Spurs 104, Clips 97