Free NBA Picks: Cavaliers at Bulls and Lakers at Thunder
by Matt Severance - 4/22/2010
It’s our initial TNT playoff doubleheader preview here at Doc’s, although one difference tonight is the games start an hour earlier. In addition, both road teams are desperate for a win or their first-round series is all but over.
Cleveland Cavaliers at Chicago Bulls, 7 p.m.
The line: Cavaliers -3.5 (193)
How they enter: The Bulls really never were in Game 1 but played Cleveland almost to a standstill in Game 2 (covering the spread) before LeBron James starting raining ridiculous jumpers in the fourth quarter Monday night. James finished with 40 in Game 2, including 15 in the final quarter. Cleveland shot 66.7 percent as a team in pulling away in the fourth.
Scouting report: There was plenty to be optimistic about for Chicago in Game 2. Derrick Rose had 23 points, Luol Deng 20 and Joakim Noah was a dominant force inside with 25 points and 13 rebounds. Shaquille O’Neal almost seemed to be a detriment for Cleveland on Monday night. For example, Zydrunas Ilgauskas covered Noah for nearly 14 minutes and Noah had just two points. In Ilgauskas' 16:26 on the court, Cleveland outscored Chicago, 32-27. In the two games, the Bulls have scored just 43 points in the 25:28 Ilgauskas has played. That projects to just 80 points in a full game. Chicago needs to be better from the perimeter because the Bulls aren’t getting to the line much. Deng, Kirk Hinrich and Flip Murray all are shooting 40 percent or lower through the first two games from the field. Chicago also is getting killed at the three-point line – it had just four from long-range in Game 2, while Cleveland reserve Jamario Moon had four by himself.
Key trends: The Bulls have been home underdogs just five times since Dec. 5 – they are 2-3 ATS in those five.
Cleveland is just 3-9 ATS in its past 12 games overall (1-1 in this series).
The ‘over’ is 10-4 in the Cavs’ past 14 as a road favorite and in the Bulls’ past 14 when Chicago is an underdog of 4.5 points or lower.
The pick: If Chicago is to win any game, it will probably be Game 3. But LeBron is on a mission. Take the Cavs and the ‘over’.
L.A. Lakers at Oklahoma City Thunder, 9:30 p.m.
The line: Thunder -3.5 (191.5)
How they enter: Of course the Lakers are up 2-0 (1-1 ATS), but while in Game 1 they led wire-to-wire, Game 2 was a dogfight. Banged-up Kobe Bryant had 39 points on Tuesday night, including 15 points in the fourth quarter and eight down the stretch. The Lakers are 39-1 all-time when winning the first two games of a best-of-seven series.
Scouting report: Yes, Kobe put up plenty of points in Game 2, but he’s still not physically right as evidenced by his 12-for-28 shooting following Game 1’s 6-for-19. Lakers coach Phil Jackson says he wants more from sixth man Lamar Odom, who has scored a total of 11 points on only 13 attempts. The Thunder reversed their fortunes in the paint in Game 2, blocking an incredible 17 shots (a Lakers playoff opponent record) – they led the NBA in blocks during the season. But they still were outscored 36-20 in the paint. OKC was much better defensively everywhere, holding the Lakers to 37.5 percent shooting from the field and 27.3 percent from beyond the arc. On offense, the Thunder’s Kevin Durant was better in Game 2 but still has been hounded to hitting 19-of-50 in the first two games by Ron Artest. The Thunder needs more from third option Jeff Green, who is averaging 11 points but making just 26 percent of his shots and averaging only 3.5 rebounds. Even Thunder coach Scott Brooks said his team played about as well as it could in Game 2 and still Oklahoma City didn’t win.
Key trends: The Lakers were 1-6 straight up and 2-5 ATS as a road underdog of less than 3.5 points this season.
OKC is 12-3 ATS as a home favorite of up to 4.5 points. The Thunder were 13-5 straight up and ATS at home off a loss.
The ‘under’ is 4-1 ATS in the past five meetings.
The pick: I actually believe the Thunder do get this win, so take them to barely cover. Also go with the ‘under’.
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