Chicago Bulls @ Atlanta Hawks NBA Pick & Betting Preview: The Bulls might very well be the best team in the East, but if they are, it hasn’t been by much. Chicago has played a lot of close games over their first handful of playoff games, and they sit tied with Atlanta at 1 game a piece headed to play on the road this Friday.
But I think they’re starting to figure it out, they are the better team, and they can really beat the Hawks up from a lot of different areas. Unlike Orlando, this Chicago team is great defensively, and they have more than one big man to guard the basket. Chicago’s rotations are fast, and their never give up defense causes opponents to shoot a lot of tough shots. That will help them in Atlanta.
Derrick Rose has shot pretty poorly over the first two games of this series, and I think that stops one of these nights – why not Friday in Atlanta? If Rose has one of his MVP type games, beating the Hawks is a given. If he shoots 10 for 27, misses just about every three he takes, and turns the ball over 8 times, well, they still have a chance – because that’s what he did in Game 2 and the Bulls ran away with that one.
Look for Carlos Boozer to be a little bigger focus in Atlanta, because if they aren’t going to use him to spread the floor with jumpers from the free throw line area, or post him up on the block, then what is he good for? The guy is brutal defensively. I expect the Bulls to win this one in 5 or 6 games – and I think they get back to even with the Hawks on Friday Night.
Prediction: Bulls 94 – Hawks 88
Atlanta Hawks VS. Orlando Magic – NBA Playoff Pick & Preview: I don’t think they’re ever going to get it. The Atlanta Hawks are a match-up nightmare for Dwight Howard and company. Josh Smith and Al Horford both do well against whatever the Magic throw at them. Unless the Hawks get in a ton of foul trouble early, this game will continue to be a close, down-to-the-wire game where 8 points is just way too much to give up. I’m all about the dogs in this one!
The thing is, I’ve been this way since before the series started, putting everybody on watch for the Hawks to pull the upset… LOOK HERE! Now I didn’t flat out pick the Hawks to win the series, I actually thought the Magic might get it in 6, but I did label them “the best payout for an actual chance to win that you’ll get with an underdog.” If you were there to gamble, you’re looking pretty good right about now, with just under 5x your investment if the Hawks win any of the next 3 games. I like your (our) chances!
Right now, I’m looking for the Hawks to end this one on the road – and even if they don’t, a close game is most likely to take place. The Magic just don’t have that pull-away personality, and the Hawks play the right kind of ball to keep it close.
Stick with the points here, and the team that is currently 6-1 against the Magic over their last 7 games this season.
Atlanta Hawks (+7.5) @ Orlando Magic
A lot of people will tell you that they predicted the Hawks to beat the Magic, but very few of them have any proof of saying such a thing. Now, I didn’t predict the Hawks to win this series, but I did say this, “Now here’s one that could certainly happen, probably the best payout for an actual chance to win that you’ll get with an underdog.” If that’s not a ringing endorsement of what the Hawks can do, go read the rest of my preview HERE.
Atlanta has gotten the best of the Magic four straight times now, and I’m beginning to think that the Hawks front court is a tough match-up for Dwight and company to defend. I like the Magic to come out and get a win at home in this one, even the series at one game a piece, but I still think that spread is too much to cover.
Al Horford and Josh Smith both create tough match-up problems with Horford’s ability to hit the mid-range jumper and be physical in the post, and Smith’s physical gifts as a quick and athletic 6’8″ high flier. Joe Johnson seems to be heating up at the right time, and at the very least I expect a close game out of the Hawks in Orlando. This entire series will be tight, I just don’t know if the Magic know how to play any other way.
I like the points!
Atlanta Hawks (+8.5) @ Orlando Magic
2010 NBA Mock Draft: Part II (15-30)
As promised, here is the second half of my 2010 NBA Mock Draft. Workouts are still taking place, but I think you’ll get a lot out of my take on the draft. Just like my first Mock, (The Lottery Picks), this write up has who I think the teams will take, followed by who I would take. Once a player is chosen, he leaves my draft board. If you missed my first half of the NBA Mock Draft, check it out HERE. Enjoy!
15. Ekpe Udoh– Milwaukee Bucks: Who would I draft? James Anderson. I think both guys make a lot of sense. I liked Udoh in college, but am not sure he’ll be able to out-athlete guys at the next level. Against Duke he seemed like an NBA player to me, and the Bucks could definitely use more bigs to play behind Bogut. However, with Salmons hitting free agency and the Bucks really taking off after John joined the club, I think getting a big scoring guard with polish would help them continue to win now. Anderson could get that done.
16. Donatas Motiejunas– Minnesota Timberwolves: Who would I draft? Damion James.I understand stashing a foreigner away, especially when you have 3 1st round picks, and if they grab Donatas at #16 then they pick up the highest rated foreigner in the draft – which all makes a lot of sense – but this team could really use some polished players to become a winning team, and picking up a small forward with a winning pedigree like Damion James, makes the most sense to me. James can hit jumpers, he likes taking big shots, and he plays tough as all hell. Good qualities for a Timberwolves team that needs an identity.
17. James Anderson– Chicago Bulls: Who would I draft? James Anderson. The Bulls really missed Ben Gordon’s scoring punch, and if James Anderson is still on the board, he makes sense here. There are a couple other shooting guard, scoring types that could find their way to Chicago (especially when you consider free agency and what might take place) but a guy like Anderson makes a lot of sense for the Bulls. Eric Bledsoe, if they think they can play him at the two and not be at a defensive disadvantage, might be a guy they would hope for. Dominique Jones, the SG from South Florida, is another guy I like who isn’t getting much 1st round attention, but should be a solid scoring option. Jordan Crawford is another guy with some big upside, a guy that might do well in Chicago if a solid leader is picked up to coach the team.
18. Eric Bledsoe– Miami Heat: Who would I draft? Eric Bledsoe. The Heat need somebody to run the point in Miami, and where Chalmers used to be looked at as a steal, he’s now being used minimally as a back up. I think Bledsoe’s upside is grand, and if John Wall had attended anywhere but Kentucky, we would have really seen what Bledsoe is capable of. As is, Bledsoe showed that he can succeed and have big games as a second fiddle in the backcourt – a great thing for a place like Miami. If the young pg/sg is available, I think the Heat would be stupid to pass him up.
19. Solomon Alabi– Boston Celtics: Who would I draft? Damion James. I think the Celtics have earned the right to take the best player, and I think that guy is likely James. If Bledsoe dropped, a back up shooting guard/point guard might be a brilliant decision, but he’s gone in my mock. Alabi, I see what the Celtics are doing by picking him – he has great defensive upside, works his but off, plays very smart, and is a huge body down low. They don’t need an offensive center, and Alabi could take care of some bench minutes. However, James is a polished player with a very solid all around game that is ready to be a pro right now. The Celtics have a small window, and James could show up for big minutes right off the bat. Tough call, but I would go with James if I were making the pick.
20. Damion James– San Antonio Spurs: Who would I draft? Jordan Crawford. Oh, the Spurs could go many different ways here, including over seas. I wouldn’t be stunned if they grabbed James because the kid knows how to play, will be a solid player in the NBA, is greatly undervalued, and they always seem to make sound decisions on draft day – and I think James will be good. But Crawford is a scoring guard that could flourish under the Spurs’ solid leadership, but in the front office, the coaching staff, and amongst the players. It’s a very good atmosphere for a kid with tons of scoring upside. San Antonio could get the most out of a guy like Crawford.
21. Patrick Patterson– Oklahoma City Thunder: Who would I draft? Patrick Patterson. This kid was a great player for Kentucky. At times, he looked like the best player on the floor, and that team was not only loaded with talent but claimed two of the best guards in the draft, the best player in the draft, and a big that might slip into the lottery that didn’t even get minutes because of a guy like Patterson. I don’t know how Patterson doesn’t get more love as a solid PF at the next level. He’s explosive, aggressive, plays smart, has range on his jump shot, and finishes hard at the rim. Oklahoma could use a power forward that works hard and can spread the floor a little – I guess I’m not sold on the Thunder being able to defend your average power forward with the likes of Jeff Green.
22. Lance Stephenson– Portland Trailblazers: Who would I draft? Terrico White. I think Stephenson has solid upside. He might be the most talented player left, he has good size, and while he underperformed last season – he looks like he has plenty of room to improve and grow as a player. The Blazers aren’t dying for anything, so taking a high upside kid with plenty of potential and ideal size might just makes plenty of sense. I like Terrico White a little more than Stephenson, as I see him as a little more polished and very explosive.
23. Quincy Pondexter– Minnesota Timberwolves: Who would I draft? Darington Hobson. Both these guys are productive players at the college level that some think might not transfer to the NBA. Pondexter probably played himself into a sure thing first round position with his awesome second half of the year at UW – but then he played him self into the latter picks of the round by stinking it up for most of the NCAA Tournament. He’s a good player that goes on streaks, but Minnesota could definitely use his long body and improved offensive game at small forward. But I like Darington Hobson just a little more. Hobson struggled big time during the post-season, but this kid showed me flashes of greatness all year – I see him being a solid pro.
24. Jordan Crawford– Atlanta Hawks: Who would I draft? Jarvis Varnado. The Hawks are going to lose Joe Johnson, don’t get it twisted – the guy is as good as gone. Crawford can score the basketball, has good upside, and has shown that he has the will to show up big time in the most important games. A lot of people don’t love his attitude, but every team needs a guy that wants the ball with the game on the line. This pick makes sense to me. I like Varnado because I think the Hawks suck against teams with a post presence. I think Varnado is a very good shot blocker that could help to give opposing offenses some trouble. The Hawks need post defense really bad.
25. Terrico White– Memphis Grizzlies: Who would I draft? Terrico White. White showed all season long how athletic he is. At the NBA Draft Combine, he proved it once again. The kid is super explosive and he can shoot the basketball. His speed and ability to handle the basketball give him a big point guard upside, while still being able to help put points on the board as a shooting guard. Memphis isn’t saddled with any huge holes, so taking an athletic scorer with upside makes sense.
26. Paul George– Oklahoma City Thunder: Who would I draft? Larry Sanders. George can really shoot the ball, and I understand the Thunder wanting to add some shooters around Durrant, because face it, guys are going to get open. But I don’t think this team needs any more players getting shots. They have Durrant, Westbrook, Jeff Green, and James Harden is going to be a good pro as well. You’re telling me a 5th guy to get shots is what they need? I don’t see it. I think Larry Sanders would be a much better pick. His size is very impressive, as is his athleticism. He isn’t a very polished player, but he’d give the Thunder another look, and his upside is a good value pick here.
27. Armon Johnson– New Jersey Nets: Who would I draft? Willie Warren. If I were the Nets, I’d take a chance on Warren. He was a lottery possibility last year, and some struggles off the court seemed to get the best of his this season. But the kid can really play, as he showed during his freshman campaign. Injuries, issues with the coaching staff, a disappointing season – whatever you want, there’s plenty of reasons to go a different direction – which is what I expect New Jersey, and the rest of the first round, to do. But Warren is still that potential Top 10 player, and at 27 I think he’d be a steal. Armon Johnson is a beast of a point guard, very strong, athletic, and fast. He has long arms and he can really score the basketball. He doesn’t have a great jumper, but his physicality and quickness could make him a productive late round pick.
28. Kevin Seraphin– Memphis Grizzlies: Who would I draft? Trevor Booker. Yeah, I would take Trevor Booker. Some people say him and Zach Randolph are a lot alike – they are wrong. Sure, Booker can score on the post, has a solid touch, and is a smooth player – but he’s also a hard worker that is much faster and more athletic than people think. He might not have All-NBA upside, but he can help any team in the league. Seraphin is a very big body, a nice project player from overseas. He might pull out of the draft, but right now he’d be a guy that Memphis could grab with one of their 1st round picks, stash him away for a few years, and grab him when and if he’s more NBA ready – or if they need post help.
29. Hassan Whiteside– Orlando Magic: Who would I draft? Trevor Booker. Whiteside is an interesting guy. He thinks he’s going to be an all star, he claims that he wants to be one of the best, but he just doesn’t put in the work to back up all his talk. Lots of people claim they want to be something, but when it comes right down to it, their dedication and hard work is a good indicator of what they really want. Whiteside, to me, is a perfect example of why an NBA body doesn’t mean you’ll ever be a success at that next level. Talent-wise, he’s got plenty, but mentally he’s too immature. The Magic have plenty of leaders on and off the court to keep Whiteside grounded. Getting his face dunked on by Dwight Howard in practice might be just what the doctor ordered for Hassan. However, I would go with Booker. The kid is way faster and stronger than people give credit. He’s a tough kid that would be a perfect compliment player to any good team. As workouts continue, and Booker dominates competition, he’ll move up the draft charts into the first round.
30. Stanley Robinson– Washington Wizards: Who would I draft? Stanley Robinson. Nobody is sure about what Stanley Robinson is going to bring to a basketball game, but at his best he’s athletically gifted with an NBA body ready to play right now. With a leader and quick floor general like John Wall on his squad, I feel like you would get the best from Robinson on a consistent basis. If the Wizards are going to run, Robinson would be a nice energy player that could finish around the rim and score points on the break. Somebody has to take a chance on this guy.
I finished last week’s NBA playoffs at 8-3 after I split Sunday’s playoff action. The Spurs got swept and while I ended up being wrong about that game, I couldn’t be happier about my failure. Steve Nash got his eye smashed shut and the guy still came out in the 4th and ran the Spurs’ show right out of their own gym. A couple real questionable plays late had the Spurs with a chance, but Steve shut them down at every turn. As for the Celtics, well, they did what I thought they’d do, and I was right about LeBron, he didn’t come out and blow up the spot like he did in Game 3. He can’t do that every game. Rajon Rondo was filthy for Boston, he dropped a triple double and was grabbing rebounds like he was Wilt Chamberlain. Crazy. Here’s my thoughts on Monday’s games…
Orlando Magic (-6) @ Atlanta Hawks (5-10: 8:00 PM ET – TNT): I could go into great detail about the infinite wall the Hawks are trying to climb. I could dig into the terrible match-up problems that the Magic give them. I could even talk about how Joe Johnson told Atlanta that he doesn’t care if the fans show up. But screw all that stuff. The Magic are just going to beat the pee out of Atlanta to finish up the series.
LA Lakers (+2.5) @ Utah Jazz (5-10: 10:30 PM ET – TNT): Utah had a win last time out, and it’s really amazing how the Lakers can just play well enough to win like they have been. But this is Game 4, and LA can close it out now and make sure they get as much time off as Phoenix. Utah is outmatched down low, and that, again, will be the difference in this one.
The Phoenix Suns made me 3 for my last 3 playoff picks, taking the 4th quarter from the tired Spurs in what was a pretty telling final 8 minutes. Tim Duncan’s old shadow actually played pretty well, but San Antonio couldn’t stop the pick and roll with the pass out to the open shooter. The Suns can really shoot, and Nash and Amare can really run that pick – the Spurs even got good games from Duncan, Ginobli, and Richard Jefferson – I’m beginning to think Phoenix is just too good for San Antonio. Here’s my take on Thursday’s game…
Atlanta Hawks @ Orlando Magic (-9) (5-6: 8:00 PM ET – ESPN): Not only did the Hawks show me absolutely no heart or toughness in Game 1, but I didn’t think they had a chance to win a game in Orlando prior to that embarrassing performance to start the series. This Atlanta team just isn’t mentally tough enough to step up their game when it matters most – and honestly, this team is playing like they are already in the off-season. Soon enough, soon enough.
That being said, it’s not like Orlando is a sure thing to 40 piece the Hawks for four straight games in this series, but 9 points at home, shoot, that’s good enough for me. Even if the Hawks come out playing with something to prove in Game 2, they still have to deal with a team that drastically outplays them every time they get on the same court.
Unless Atlanta suddenly turns into a mentally tough team that can play on the road, and in turn starts attacking Orlando and forcing them into foul trouble – this game will be another easy W for Orlando. I’ll take the magic.
Yesterday, in games I didn’t pick, the Suns ran the Spurs into the ground and ended up winning by 8. In Cleveland, the Cavaliers didn’t play like the best team in basketball, as the Boston Celtics won by 18 big points on the road. It will be interesting to see if the Spurs can keep up with the Suns, as they’ve struggled throughout the season with run and gun type, high scoring offenses. In that Cavs/Celtics series I’m interested to see if LeBron comes out with that same swagger he brought to Chicago in Round 1. If not, it could be upset city… Here’s my take on Tuesday’s games.
Atlanta Hawks @ Orlando Magic (-9) (5-4: 8:00 PM ET – TNT): The Hawks just don’t match up well with the Magic. I would say that Atlanta would have a better chance against Cleveland or Boston – but they just don’t have the size or attacking style to give the Magic trouble. I think Al Horford is solid, but he’s not going to put Dwight in foul trouble – that’s just not his game – and Howard has owned Atlanta, especially this year. Orlando has double digit wins thrice against Atlanta this season – and the Hawks are bad on the road. Anything else? Joe Johnson has a foot out the door… Sweet, got it, Magic by 17.
Utah Jazz @ LA Lakers (-5.5) (5-4: 10:30 PM ET – TNT): The Jazz fought hard in Game 1, and LA proved that they don’t have an answer for Deron Williams. But they don’t need to have an answer for them. Utah has the worst defense left in the playoffs, and the Lakers can get stops down the stretch. That will make all the different. I would think LA comes out with a little more push in Game 2 after nearly letting Game 1 slip away. The Jazz have a fighters’ chance, but without the bigs to defend Pau, Bynum, and Odom – I don’t see them connecting too often, especially on the road.
Here are my picks for Saturday’s NBA Playoff Games. Lots of these series are getting very interesting. Charlotte gets their first home game against Orlando, as do the Bucks. Portland and Oklahoma try to even up their respective series after winning one out of the first 3 games.
Orlando Magic @ Charlotte Bobcats (+2) (4-24: 2:00 PM ET – TNT): It almost seems wrong to take the Bobcats, but I’m not letting the first two outcomes sway me. I still think Charlotte matches up fairly well with the Magic, and playing their first ever playoff game at home should get them pumped to play, and maybe start out the game not getting behind big early. That has been the difference, so I’ll take the Bobcats to start better and upset the Magic.
Phoenix Suns (+1.5) @ Portland Trail Blazers (4-24: 4:30 PM ET – TNT): I think Phoenix has the Blazers figured out a bit, and playing away from home isn’t going to hurt them. They won easily two nights ago, and the Blazers aren’t getting Brandon Roy or either of their two centers back anytime soon, so they’ll continue to struggle. If Jason Richardson continues his stellar play, the Suns will win by double digits again. More on NBA playoffs odds for Suns V Trail Blazers.
Atlanta Hawks (+1) @ Milwaukee Bucks (4-24: 7:00 PM ET – ESPN): Playing in Milwaukee doesn’t mean Bogut will heal miraculously – so just like the last couple games, this is Atlanta’s to lose. I see the Hawks sweeping the Bucks.
LA Lakers (+2) @ Oklahoma City Thunder (4-24: 9:30 PM ET – ESPN): The Lakers lost last time out despite Durant struggling from the floor, again. He made some really big shots down the stretch. but his teammates really helped him out. Russell Westbrook had about the sickest playoff dunk I’ve seen this year as he dunked all over every Laker in the history of the franchise. But again, if the Lakers just go to their bigs, they should win fairly easily. I’m hoping I’m wrong, and I’m hoping I’ll be wrong every time I ever pick L.A. but I have a feeling the Lake-show goes up 3-1 in this one.
The Atlanta Hawks and Cleveland Cavaliers go at it tonight on ESPN, representing two of the best teams in basketball. The Hawks have stepped up against just about every top opponent this season, aside from Cleveland. The Utah Jazz are climbing positions in the West, and they are looking for a 2-seed. A win over the Lake-show would bring that closer to a reality and give them a nice confidence boost moving forward, but can they win on the road in L.A.?
Atlanta Hawks @ Cleveland Cavaliers (-5.5) (4-2: 8:00 PM ET – ESPN): It’s hard for me to go against the curve here, so I’m not going to. The Hawks have been ousted by the Cavs 8 straight times headed into Friday’s double header on ESPN. 8 in a row. How man times in those 8 games have the Hawks and Cavs been seperated by fewer than 5 points? Once. March 1st of 2009 – more than a year ago. There are numbers that mean nothing, and there are trends to pay attention too. I’d say 8 in a row is something to look at. I’ll take the Cavs at home.
Utah Jazz @ LA Lakers (-4.5) (4-2: 10:30 PM ET): The Jazz have won 8 of their last 10 games and they’ve been solid during the second half of the season, climbing all the way to home court advantage in the first round of the playoffs. But in their last 20 games they’ve only beaten two teams with winning records, Boston and Phoenix. The Lakers have won 4 of the last 5 against Utah. The Lakers have been playing pretty ugly basketball of late, but I think they turn it around on Friday Night. I like them to cover at home.
There are a couple games that really interest me tonight – one is for the intriguing match-up between Eastern and Western powers, and the other is the amount of assists that will be passed out of the hands of Deron Williams tonight when the Jazz host the Golden State Warriors. Oh yeah, and the D-Leaguers teaming up with Steph Curry to put some highlights together is always entertaining. Here’s my take…
LA Lakers (+1) @ Atlanta Hawks (3-31: 7:00 PM ET): The entire LA crew is healthy again, and Pau Gasol will end up doing work against the Hawks front line. Tell me whom in Atlanta is going to guard Pau? If “nobody” was your answer than you’re on to something. Atlanta is a very good team, no doubt about it, but even with Bynum out, the Lakers are a really tough match-up for the Hawks. They’ve won 3 of their last 4 against the Hawks, and with people starting to question if the Lakers’ recent 1-2 three game stretch is any indication of their upcoming struggles, I have a feeling that the Lake-show will be out to prove something. I’ll take them in a double digit win.
Golden State Warriors (+13) @ Utah Jazz (3-31: 7:00 PM ET – ESPN): About this time last season, Deron Williams busted out 20 assists as Utah ousted in the Warriors. This year he’s averaging around 12-13 dimes per game against Golden State. I think he goes for about 15-20 tonight as Utah gets a win over Golden State. But the Warriors have played well lately with their D-Leaguers playing huge. I think they give Utah a run tonight and continue their hot run against the spread to cover despite a likely big game by the Jazz stars.