Free NBA Picks: Cleveland Cavaliers at Boston Celtics and Phoenix Suns at San Antonio Spurs
by Alan Matthews - 5/7/2010
After back-to-back days of just one NBA playoff game per night because of TV scheduling wackiness, we are back Friday with a doubleheader – this time on ESPN.
Cavaliers at Celtics, 7 p.m.
The line: Cavs -1 (192.5)
How they enter: The Celtics stunned nearly everyone by winning in Cleveland on Monday night to even this series at one game apiece. It really wasn’t so much that Boston won but that it dominated in the 104-86 victory. The Cavs simply lacked energy, it appeared, and they were ripped by Coach Mike Brown afterward.
Scouting report: Boston could easily be up 2-0 after leading by 11 in the third quarter of Game 1 before Cleveland rallied. Rajon Rondo is dominating Mo Williams and the other Cavs guards, as Rondo had a team playoff record 19 assists in Game 2. There are a few injury notes to be aware of. Boston’s Kevin Garnett and Kendrick Perkins both missed practice Wednesday with various injuries but both were back on Thursday and both say they are playing tonight. Perkins has outplayed Shaq so far in this series, while Garnett has taken a team-high 41 shots, and has put up 18 points and 10 rebounds in both games – he is dominating Antawn Jamison. And then there’s LeBron James’ elbow, which is easily the most talked-about body part in the NBA if not all of sports right now. LeBron apparently doesn’t need another MRI, so maybe the elbow is improving. But James had just 24 points in Game 2 and appeared a little passive at times. But James still is averaging 29.5 points, 7.0 rebounds and 5.5 assists on 49 percent shooting in the two games but isn’t getting much help from teammates, especially in the fourth quarter (LeBron is averaging 12 ppg in the series’ two fourth quarters). Cavs big man Anderson Varejao left Game 2 early with an injury but should be good to go tonight.
Key trends: Boston is 2-8 ATS in its past 10 following a straight-up win.
The ‘over’ is 5-1 in Cleveland’s past six road games. It is also 5-1 in the past six in this series in Beantown.
The Cavs are 7-3 ATS in the past 10 in Boston.
The pick: Boston wasn’t a great home team this year at 24-17 – the C’s had more road wins. And the Cavs no doubt will come out with a bunch of energy. Take Cleveland here as well as the ‘over’.
Suns at Spurs, 9:30 p.m.
The line: Spurs -6.5 (205.5)
How they enter: Games 1 and 2 in Phoenix looked awfully similar as the Suns were able to play at their style, winning 111-102 and 110-102. Phoenix’s Big 3 of Amare Stoudemire, Jason Richardson and Steve Nash have outplayed San Antonio’s trio of Tim Duncan, Manu Ginobili and Tony Parker.
Scouting report: Here is a statistic that makes no sense whatsoever. The Spurs outshot the Suns 51 percent to 41 percent in Game 2’s loss but still lost,. They are now 0-2 in this season's playoffs when they shoot 50.0 percent or better. They are 4-2 when they are under 50.0 percent from the floor. That’s just odd. The key in Game 2 was that Phoenix outrebounded the bigger Spurs and outscored the Spurs by 14 at the line, going 29 of 37 to San Antonio's 15 of 22. Don’t expect Phoenix to get to the line as much in San Antonio – it’s just human nature for refs to lean toward the home team. The Suns gave up the second most offensive rebounds in the NBA this season (13.2 per game) but have given up 8.0 per game this series. Stoudemire has 24 rebounds in two games. But can the Spurs hold Phoenix under 100 points? They better, because San Antonio has lost 13 straight playoff games when allowing 100 points or more. The Spurs are 0-4 at Phoenix this season but beat the Suns 113-110 in the lone game in San Antonio this season. The Spurs have allowed 110 points 14 times this season, with five of those coming to Phoenix. San Antonio has won 12 of its last 15 home games, going 10-4-1 ATS in that stretch. It should be interesting to see if Spurs coach Gregg Popovich starts Tony Parker ahead of George Hill tonight to help make Steve Nash work more on defense.
Key trends: The ‘under’ is 6-0-1 ATS in Phoenix’s past seven road games. It is 5-1 ATS when San Antonio is a favorite of between 5 and 10.5 points.
The favorite and the home team are 5-1 ATS in the past six.
The pick: I think the Spurs certainly win the game because they have to or this series is over, but 6.5 points seems like too many. Take the Suns and the ‘under’.
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