The Portland Trail Blazers had people talking with an impressive (and highly entertaining) 4-2 first round series win over the Houston Rockets. The San Antonio Spurs had people talking, too, after barely dispatching the bottom-seeded Dallas Mavericks in round one, as well.
For two very different reasons, these talented Western Conference squads were under the microscope entering round two of the 2014 NBA Playoffs. Only one responded.
San Antonio has largely dominated Portland en route to a 3-0 series lead, as the Blazers simply don’t have the defense or depth to hang with the defending Western Conference champs.
The Spurs will look to put the finishing touches on a clean sweep tonight, while the series between the Brooklyn Nets and Miami Heat could turn into a dogfight if the Nets can even things up at 2-2.
Let’s see how both contests might unfold as we make tonight’s NBA playoff picks:
Miami Heat (2) @ Brooklyn Nets (6) – 8:00 PM ET
The Nets still had some life left in them in game three, as they pushed away a potential sweep by the Heat and proved why they had Miami’s number four times during the regular season.
Paul Pierce and Brooklyn’s vets hadn’t showed up through the first two games, but they have their confidence back and are at home again. If they’re going to give the Heat a real fight, it starts by evening the series here tonight. It’s a long shot, but the Nets just might be able to pull it off if their defense can show up for the second game in a row.
Pick: Nets 98, Heat 95
San Antonio Spurs (1) @ Portland Trail Blazers (5) – 10:30 PM ET
There has been nothing in the first three games to suggest a dramatic turnaround for the Blazers. Their star players have run hot and cold, their defense has been atrocious and the Spurs are flat out on another level right now. It would take a lot for Portland to even muster up one win tonight, and they already seem out of gas.
The aging Spurs would be wise to get this series over with so they can prepare for the tough battle that awaits next round with either the Clippers or Thunder, as well.
Pick: Spurs 107, Blazers 99