New Orleans Hornets VS. LA Lakers Free NBA Playoff Prediction: Alright, now I’ve previewed a few of the opening playoff series’ in the NBA pretty accurately, if you don’t believe me, you can check it out HERE.
If you are happy about taking my word for it, then here are the match-ups I feel pretty good about…
I picked the Celtics to win easily, despite many pundits claiming the Knicks’ chances to be grand – and while Boston did get some injury help, they did sweep the Knicks right out of the playoffs. I flat out warned Spurs backers, “If Mike Conley can hit shots, and if Marc Gasol can cause some problems with his size, look for an 8-seed beating a 1-seed!” I said the Portland/Dallas series would be wild, and it’s at least going 6, maybe 7 if Portland can hold serve at home in Game 6. I thought Denver and Oklahoma would be tough, and while it certainly has been close every single game, the Nuggets just got their first win last night as the Thunder are up 3-1. I thought the Heat might drop a game, but easily handle the 76ers. I don’t know if it’s been easy, but if it goes 6, I’ll be surprised.
And then there’s the other two series. I was pretty sure that Chicago would role through the Pacers, I listed them “the biggest long shot underdog of the NBA playoffs”. Now, I said they could certainly grab a game, and I might end up being right about that, the Bulls could easily walk away winning the series 4-1, but this series has been way closer than I expected. The young Pacers are staying right with the Bulls in just about every game – the difference has been the Bulls have Derrick Rose in the final seconds, and the Pacers don’t.
And then there’s my last “gimmie” pick – the Lakers to dominate the Hornets. I actually wrote this as my write up, “Fat chance? No chance. Chris Paul is good, but he’s had better seasons, and I don’t think he’s at the top of his game. Outside of him, the Lakers are better at every single position, and it’s not close very often. If the Lakers don’t sweep this one, I will be stunned.”
Color me stunned. Now to my credit, I got this preview completely wrong from top to bottom, so I have nothing to grab onto and point out to show where I went wrong. But I’m going to say that Chris Paul is good, and while he may have had better seasons, he is at the top of his game. He’s a 6′ guard dominating a game against a team full of length. It’s awesome.
I don’t see how I can go away from the Hornets now, now that they’ve made me look so wrong. CP3 for president! Plus, I think 10.5 is WAY TOO MANY points to give a Hornets team that has been playing great. I’ll take the points with both my Tuesday picks!
New Orleans Hornets (+10.5) @ LA Lakers
The Trail Blazers lost by 8 in Game 1, but the contest was tighter than the final score insists. The only guy in Portland that played well was LaMarcus Aldridge, and he will continue to do work on the Mavericks’ bigs. I do, however, expect bigger and better things from the likes of Wesley Matthews (1 for 3 in Game 1), Gerald Wallace (4-13 in Game 1), and Brandon Roy (1-7 in Game 1). One of those guys will have a big game in Dallas on Tuesday Night, and that will make all the difference.
The Blazers’ length gave big Dirk some trouble for much of the game, as he went just 7-20 from the floor. A handful of tough foul calls really helped the Mavericks out as Dallas went 25-29 from the free throw line compared to Portland’s 9 for 13. Dallas also went all in on the three, shooting 19 and hitting 10. That’s a pretty impressive number that almost surely won’t be matched in Game 2. By the end of the season, Dallas wasn’t a good team, hardly ever beating a solid opponent, getting their wins playing the bottom of the barrel.
The Trail Blazers are very good and as healthy as they’ve been all season long. They will get more from a couple key players, and the Mavericks won’t be as hot from beyond the arc. It’s not every day that Jason Kidd drops 6 bombs on you. I’ll take the road dog in this one.
Portland Trail Blazers (+3.5) @ Dallas Mavericks
Chicago Bulls (-3400) VS. Indiana Pacers (+2200)
Starts Saturday, 1pm ET, ESPN
Those hoping for an upset, the chance is pretty fat. Danny Granger could always go wild for a game and sneak the Pacers out a win, and it’s not like this Indiana team doesn’t have some talent – but they truly are the biggest long shot underdog of the NBA Playoffs (maybe equal to New Orleans). If there’s a gimmie out there, the Bulls to win is it.
Miami Heat (-1800) VS. Philadelphia 76ers (+1000)
Starts Saturday, 3:30pm ET, abc
Those looking to cash in on the Heat will probably win their bet, but this isn’t nearly the gimmie it would seem. Sure, Philadelphia has lost all three times against the Heat so far this season, each by 9 points or more, but strung together a lot of wins over the latter half of the season, and looked good doing it. Philly lost it there toward the end, dropping 5 of their final 6, and they finished the season 6-13 ATS, but this is a deep team with a lot of options. Miami is the type of team that could drop a game and get real nervous. I think the Miami gamblers are pretty safe with their big minus bet, but a gimmie, not like LA and Chicago.
Boston Celtics (-360) VS. New York Knicks (+300)
Starts Sunday, 7pm ET, TNT
They made this one close, and I’m guessing the Knickerbockers get a lot of series bets taking them to pull the upset – but I don’t buy it. Sure, the Celtics have been playing some poor basketball down the stretch, and this team has obviously been hurting without a big man to be a defensive centerpiece, but it’s really hard for me to see the wing-it Knicks taking out the seasoned Celtics. If anything, I know Boston has more fight in them. Defensively, they play like a team, and while New York has shown the ability to beat good teams, I don’t think they can do it consistently. Winning 4 of 7, I just don’t believe.
San Antonio Spurs (-500) VS. Memphis Grizzlies (+350)
Starts Sunday, 1pm ET, TNT
Why isn’t it tougher to buy the Grizzlies pulling this upset when they don’t even have their highest paid player (Rudy Gay) in the line-up? You’d think that the NBA’s best record out West would hold a little more weight in this match-up, but the Grizzlies have become a scary team for an aging Spurs squad. This series was tied, 2-2, this season – but the Spurs were winning early, when they were beating everybody and the Grizzlies were underachieving. The Grizzlies were winning late when they started to figure it out, and the Spurs slipped a little. Certainly the Spurs get the benefit of the doubt here, but if you’re looking for an upset, you could certainly do worse than taking the Grizzlies. Zach Randolph has double-doubled the Spurs a couple times in a row, and Tony Allen has given them fits each of the last two games. If Mike Conley can hit shots, and if Marc Gasol can cause some problems with his size, looking for a 8-seed beating a 1-seed!
Orlando Magic (-550) VS. Atlanta Hawks (+425)
Starts Saturday, 7pm ET, ESPN
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. I know the regular season means little, but the Hawks beat the Magic in each of the last 3 games these two teams played – Al Horford and Josh Smith have done a good job of keeping up with Dwight Howard in the post, sometimes even outperforming the big man. The only time Orland beat Atlanta this season was back before the trades that revamped Orlando’s roster – since then it’s been all Hawks. Again, Orland will probably play a little different in the playoffs – and my guess is that they win in 6 – however, if I was here to gamble, the Hawks to win at +475 would be one of my wagers.
Los Angeles Lakers (-2000) VS. New Orleans Hornets (+1400)
Starts Sunday, 3:30pm ET, ESPN
Fat chance? No chance. Chris Paul is good, but he’s had better seasons, and I don’t think he’s at the top of his game. Outside of him, the Lakers are better at every single position, and it’s not close very often. If the Lakers don’t sweep this one, I will be stunned.
Dallas Mavericks (-205) VS. Portland Trailblazers (+175)
Starts Saturday, 9:30pm ET, ESPN
I think this one is a toss up, and, in fact, I like the Blazers to win this series in 6 or 7 games. I think they have the guys to match up with the Mavericks, and quite honestly, they are playing better basketball right now. Portland’s won the last two meetings, and as I said earlier, the teams over .500 that Dallas has beaten over the last quarter of the season are very few. The playoff teams they’ve beaten over the last 21 games? New Orleans. Once. The final game of the season. The New York Knicks. Once. That’s it. I like Portland, so I’m taking the +175 and loving it.
Oklahoma City Thunder (-215) VS. Denver Nuggets (+180)
Starts Sunday, 9:30pm ET, TNT
I think this one is very, very close. I love the Nuggets since the trade – what a fun team to watch, they play a lot closer to the college style, which is by far the elite style of basketball. This team shares the rock and they run, the only problem is, I think Oklahoma City can run with them. This is probably the worst match-up in the playoffs for Denver, a team that has two players greater than anybody on your team, and can match you athletically. I like the Thunder, but I’m not sure how many. Denver’s going to fight, but it could be 5 very close games or 7. I’d stay away from betting this one.
NBA Free Prediction LA Lakers @ Portland Trail Blazers Preview: The Lakers could meet the Blazers in the 1st round of the playoffs, and I think the Blazers match up well with the West’s elite. Sure, the Lakers have won all three games against Portland so far this season, but the last 2 have been tight. They needed overtime 2 games ago, and the last contest went to the Lakers at home 84-80. Portland has size, and if Brandon Roy keeps improving his health, they could be scary for anyone in the West.
But this one is a gimmie for the Lake-show. They’ve lost three in a row, and I can’t see one reason to think this team of All-Stars should lose 4 games in as many tries. They are favored by just a point and a half on the road in Portland, and while games have been close there, and Portland has been playing solid basketball, I see the Lakers winning easily.
When you add in the fact that Portland played last night in Utah, then flew home to play the Lakers today, this is hardly a home game for the home team – as they’ll be playing tired after their travels.
After giving the Lakers fits in 2009, the Blazers have lost 4 of 5 to LA – but that kind of stuff doesn’t interest me much. I just don’t think this game has much meaning to the Blazers, lots of things are working against them, and they’re playing the defending champs.
LA Lakers (-1.5) @ Portland Trailblazers (4/8)
Oklahoma City Thunder @ Portland Trail Blazers NBA Free Pick: The Trailblazers are one of those teams nobody wants to play in the playoffs. For once, this team is getting healthy when it matters most. Brandon Roy seems to be getting better and better, Marcus Camby is healthy(ish) and with Gerald Wallace in the line-up this team has a ton of match-up advantages.
The Thunder look like they are locked into the 4 seed, but could do a lot in keeping Portland off their 1st round playoff schedule by taking down the Blazers on Friday. As good as the Nuggets have been, the Blazers are as scary as it gets in the bottom half of the Western Conference bracket and I’m sure Oklahoma would like to draw someone else early in Round 1. I expect this one to have a playoff atmosphere.
The Blazers have been impressive over the last 20 games or so, but they have lost 2 of 3, including a road game in Oklahoma. Still, the Blazers are toughest at home, and should be able to match up well with the Thunder.
But I like Oklahoma in this one, they are really playing well lately (9-1 in their last 10 games) and have beaten Portland 3 straight times. I expect KD to have a big game, as his shot has been on point.
Oklahoma City Thunder (+2.5) @ Portland Trail Blazers (4/1)
Phoenix Suns (+1) @ Portland Trail Blazers (4-29: 7:00 PM ET – TNT): The Suns are the better team, there’s not doubt in my mind. The game is in Portland, but this Portland team is just a shell of what they could have been if injuries weren’t a factor. Still, this one will be a fight. Portland is favored by 1, with their backs against the wall, but Phoenix has proven to play pretty well without pressure, and I think they’ll continue to let it fly tonight. If they are hitting their shots, this will go smoothly for the Suns – but either way, I like Phoenix to pull this one out.
Dallas Mavericks @ San Antonio Spurs (-4) @ (4-29: 9:30 PM ET – TNT): The Mavericks need this one bad, no doubt, but even though I originally picked the Mavs to win in 7, I’m taking the Spurs to cover the 4 point spread at home tonight. If anything, history is on my side. San Antonio, and elite head coach, Greg Popovich, have always won. That’s what they do. Dallas doesn’t have that same confidence, because history fails to produce the same outcome for them. I know sports are about now, but you learn to win, and the Spurs are comfortable doing that. This will be their last run, and I expect them to end the Mavericks’ post season tonight.
The Playoffs got underway yesterday, and every single home team won while half of the games weren’t even close. The Chicago Bulls were down big for a long time before getting it down to 7 with a few minutes to go, but nobody thought Cleveland was in trouble. Denver and Utah were keeping it close before the Nuggets went all in during the 4th quarter and won the pot, 126-113. Miami also drew a blank in the 4th quarter and lost to the Celtics. And Atlanta made it 4 favorites in 4 games as they handled the Milwaukee Bucks in blowout fashion. Hopefully we have better games today…
Oklahoma Thunder (+7.5) @ L.A. Lakers: The Lakers are a good team, probably not the best in the league anymore, maybe not even in the Western Conference, but they are good. They should beat the Thunder – however, Oklahoma plays tough, and I certainly expect them to take a couple from L.A. before eventually bowing out. I think these games will be close, and if the lines continue to be in the 7-10 range then I’m going to be taking the dog a lot.
Charlotte Bobcats (+11) @ Orlando Magic: Charlotte has played good teams tough all season long. They have the length and toughness up front to make things tough on Dwight Howard. They have good depth and are coached very well. Orlando might be the deepest team in the playoffs, but this series will be tight, and double digits is too many to give.
San Antonio Spurs @ Dallas Mavericks (-4.5): Dallas has smacked San Antonio around lately – to the tune of 6 wins in 7 games (8 of the last 10) – now a few of those were playoff games, and the Mavs won 3 of 4 during this most recent regular season. They won all 3 against the spread, and with the addition of Brendon Haywood I think they just got tougher for the Spurs to handle. I think Duncan and Parker and Ginobli are getting close to their last run together, and I think that will make this series more interesting – they definitely have the will. However, I like Dallas to come out and grab game one convincingly.
Portland Trail Blazers (+9.5) @ Phoenix Suns: The Blazers’ slow it down style should keep a lot of these games close. They have beaten Phoenix in 4 of the last 5 match-ups. Now, Brandon Roy is out, which takes a big punch away from their repetoire, but this is a fairly deep team, and don’t think for a minute that they are just going to come out and give up. They’ve fought all year despite loads of injuries, and they have some fill-in guards that can really score the basketball. But the key is their slower style, and a 9.5 point spread seems a lot in a big emotional game 1. I’ll take the dogs.
The regular season is winding down, and that puts starting line-ups into question as “all of a sudden” NBA players are too tired to be playing the remainder of their games, getting prepared for the playoffs has come first – and that means resting. Oh yes. I never saw Michael rest before the playoffs. Do you think Charles Oakley would have been caught dead taking a game off down the stretch to “rest”? Please. But regardless, this is the day we live in, and rest will play a big role in tomorrow’s games. This is what we’re looking at.
Orlando Magic @ Cleveland Cavaliers (4-11: 1:00 PM ET – abc): The story on the street is that LeBron is getting rested until the playoffs. I knew it was a skeptical report a couple games ago against Chicago when it came out that James and his mates would be all in for that night game – sure enough, the Cavs rested their star, and they lost to the Bulls. Now come the Orlando Magic. In all honesty, the intrigue in this game is in team name only as the Magic have nothing to play for either. That being said, I like the Magic without their stars more than I like the Cavaliers without James. Orlando has an entire team full of capable guys, and they’ll show that on Sunday. The line isn’t out yet, but I’ll take the road team by 6. Hope that helps.
Portland Trail Blazers @ LA Lakers (4-11: 3:30 PM ET – abc): This game doesn’t mean much for the Lakers, who have made sure they’re the best record in the West. Now it’s all for show, and that very well might mean a rest for Kobe Bryant. Now, the Lakers still have plenty of studs without Kobe on the floor, and honestly, they’ve played alright without one of the NBA’s greatest. But they are going up against Portland, a team that’s beaten the Lake-show 3 of the last 4 meetings. And this is possibly a 1st round match-up. That being said, I have to think the Blazers will be all out for this game, seeing as though there’s a chance they can win their way out of the 8-seed. Playing anybody but the Lakers in round 1 is probably the goal. I like the Blazers by 4. If the Lakers are an underdog at home because of Kobe’s absence, and it’s bigger than a nickle, I’m taking the Lakers.
Here are my basketball picks for Thursday Night. The NIT Finals and some NBA on TNT. Enjoy!
Orlando Magic (-1.5) @ Dallas Mavericks (4-1: 8:00 PM ET – TNT): The Mavericks needed overtime to beat the Memphis Grizzlies last night in a tough battle of two Western Conference teams while the Magic haven’t played since the 28th. I like Orlando to beat up on the tired Mavs, and that’s about it.
Portland Trail Blazers (+5) @ Denver Nuggets (4-1: 10:30 PM ET – TNT): Portland walked over the Knicks last night, so much so that I don’t even think they broke a sweat in the 2nd half. That game was at home, so it’s not like the extreme road trip can be to blame for a poor showing in Denver. The Nuggets are coming off a long road trip where they lost 4 out of 5, and they’ve lost 5 of 6 overall. The Blazers have won 9 of 10. These two teams are going in opposite directions, and I’m willing to bet this one is real close, so I’ll take the Blazers and the points.
North Carolina Tar Heels @ Dayton Flyers (-3): I really don’t think North Carolina can keep the NIT magic going in this one. That’s what it has been. The only reason they had a chance to win two nights ago was four straight missed free throw by Rhode Island and a freakish play at the end of the game where a Carolina player and a Rhode Island player got their feet tangled and no call was made. That makes just about every NC game played in this tournament a close one and eventually they are going to finish on the other side of that. Dayton looks really good, and they’ve been playing solid basketball. I think they out hoop the Heels in this one.
It’s not the Celtics and Cavaliers or the Lakers and Mavericks, but a couple young and exciting teams play a couple playoff bound clubs, and the hoops should be entertaining on TNT. The Bulls aren’t healthy, and they traded away some quality players for nothing at the break, so the only reason to watch them is Derrick Rose. The kid can play. The Magic are one of the East’s best, and they have been on their game lately. The late game will be full of buckets as the Blazers head to Golden State to play the Warriors. Any game in Golden State is entertaining, and this one should be no different.
Chicago Bulls @ Orlando Magic (3-11: 8:00 PM ET – TNT): The odds aren’t out late on Wednesday Night, so I’ll just have to give you a prediction for you to go by. The Bulls have given up 100 or more points in 8 straight games, losing 6 of those and their last 5 in a row. Those were all in Chicago, and now they head on the road where they are just 12-19 on the year. Oh, and Orlando is their destination. The Magic have just 6 home losses this season and are coming off 6 straight wins and playing their best team ball of the season. I’ll take the Magic over the Bulls, 106-92.
Portland Trailblazers @ Golden State Warriors (3-11: 10:30 PM ET – TNT): Again, there aren’t odds out for this game yet, so all I can do is give you a prediction and a reason, and you can decide based on that. The Warriors have played well against the spread, and despite their 17-46 record they’ve managed a 35-27-1 ATS record. But the Blazers are the better team, and lately they’ve played well against run and gun opponents, winning at Memphis and Toronto, and keeping up with Denver until late. The Warriors play their best ball at home, but the Blazers have been money on the road of late. I’ll take the Blazers over the Warriors, 110-97.