Miami Heat @ Boston Celtics Game 3 Prediction & Pick Everyone and their mom thinks the Celtics are done in this one. The new Big 3 is in town, and they’re looking for their crown – or something catchy and full of rhyme. But I’m not ready to crown them quite yet – you could say, I’m with Denny Green on this one. The Celtics, I don’t think they’ll let the Heat off the hook just like that.
Something different needs to happen, however, and all the Celtics’ old man injuries aren’t helping one bit. I think that Shaq’s presence down low might be just what the doctor ordered for the Celtics. He makes opposing offenses think twice about driving in, and more because of his size than his defensive ability. The Celtics need something, and he could be that something.
I also like Boston at home, because they are just flat out better there. Remember a couple years ago when they couldn’t win on the road in the playoffs to save their lives? Well, they’re going home to Boston, and the big headed Heat might start believing the “wrapped up” hype – and that can’t help.
The Celtics need some heroics, no doubt. Rajon Rondo has been playing very well, but they need more. Paul Pierce needs to give them something, come out with a little getty-up in his step instead of an Achilles limp. Whatever they need, I think they get it in Game 3 – I think they win in Boston.
Prediction: Heat 91 – Celtics 98
Miami Heat @ Boston Celtics (-3)
Oklahoma City Thunder @ Memphis Grizzlies Game 3 Prediction: The Thunder evened up the series after the Grizzlies pulled the stunner in Game 1, outplaying Oklahoma all night and continuing their amazing playoff run. It’s not that surprising, however, as Memphis has a couple battle tested, defensive minded, tough-nosed players like Tony Allen and Shane Battier keeping their defensive together while Zach Randolph and Marc Gasol give opposing front courts all kinds of trouble. The Grizzlies are good, folks, it’s no fluke.
The Thunder got one hell of a game from their bench in Game 2, and that’s a huge reason why they came out well on top of the Grizz to even the series. 15 and 21 from Eric Maynor (3/4 from the three-point line) and James Harden was even nicer when added to Marc Gasol and Randolph teaming up to shoot 5 for 22 from the floor.
If I were the Thunder, I’d be ready for a battle on the road.
That being said, I still think the Thunder are the team to pick here. Unlike the Spurs, they aren’t at an athletic disadvantage against the Grizzlies, and I do believe they are the better team. With Perkins and Serge, they can match up pretty well against Gasol and Zach, and that makes a ton of difference.
Prediction: Thunder 94 – Grizzlies 89
Oklahoma City Thunder (+3.5) @ Memphis Grizzlies (5/7)
LA Lakers @ Dallas Mavericks NBA Playoff Game 3 Pick: Little has been said of the Lakers’ struggles down the stretch, but it was there to see if you looked. Their two losses to a New Orleans team that had no business beating anybody in the Western Conference playoffs was less of a fluke and more of an alarm clock going off to Laker fans everywhere. At least it should have been.
On the other hand, it’s very tough for me to go all out backing the Mavericks and bust the Lakers because Dallas stunk it up big time down the stretch as well. In fact, if any top seed looked like a possible 1st round upset in the making, it was the Mavs.
But one of these two teams has really turned it around. Dirk is playing out of his mind, hitting shots that would be tough in a game of HORSE, and he’s being guarded (kind of). I felt pretty good about this series coming in, meaning I thought I had a pretty good understanding of the match-ups and how the Lakers shouldn’t be as heavily favored as they were.
I like how the Mavs can match up on the defensive end with the Lakers’ bigs – at least as well as any other team in the league. Chandler is a solid defender with great length, and Haywood can come in and make it tough on either Bynum or Gasol. Then you have Dirk, and one of those two Lakers, or Lamar Odom, has to guard him – which pulls them away from the hoop and opens up stuff for the Mavs to drive, and then kick it out when the Lakers try to recover.
The Mavs have the length, and the Lakers are looking old. I don’t think games 1 and 2 were flukes, and I think the Mavs will come out ready and roaring at home in Game 3. I like them to go up 3-0.
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
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
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
I think too much can be made of game 1 in this series. I’ve heard plenty of people say, “Chauncey Billups and Carmelo Anthony went 8 for 29 from the field and the Knicks still only lost by 2. That may be true, but a poor Knicks defensive unit held Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, Glen Davis and Rajon Rondo to 17-52 shooting and 10 turnovers between the four of them, and the Celtics still won. Now there’s a statistic.
Also, Amar’e Stoudemire was unstoppable for big chunks of the game, shooting 12 of 18 from the floor and scoring 28 points. Ronny Turiaf shot 4-5 and had 9 points with 4 blocks, and I doubt either of those numbers are matched the rest of this series. Chauncey Billups is not playing in this game, and while Toney Douglas certainly has the ability to put points up on the board, a Knicks team without Mr. Big Shot just isn’t nearly as scary.
The Celtics defense did a solid job in Game 1, and while I don’t expect much better in Game 2, I do expect much of the same. The Knicks aren’t a good half court offense, and the Celtics do a good job of forcing their opponents to be efficient in the half court setting by getting back well defensively, stopping the fast break.
I don’t think -7 is a great number for Boston, but if I’m picking a side, it’s the better team playing at home in good health against a bad defensive team playing without their point guard.
New York Knicks @ Boston Celtics (-7)
Want to see how I predicted Round 1 before the games started? Click HERE!
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.