In what can't be considered surprising, Golden State's Stephen Curry was officially named the NBA's Most Valuable Player on Monday. I personally thought it should have been Houston's James Harden as he had to carry his team more than Curry did is because Rockets center Dwight Howard missed so much time due to injury. But you really can't argue with Curry, who was the best player on the league's best team. Harden finished second, followed by LeBron James, Russell Westbrook, Anthony Davis and Chris Paul. My early prediction: the Brow wins it next season. Here's a look at Tuesday's playoff action.
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Game 2: Wizards at Hawks (-6.5, 198)
I took the Wizards to win this series before Game 1, and I'm feeling pretty great about that now. I certainly thought the Hawks were a bit overrated and far from the best team in the Eastern Conference, and they did nothing to prove me wrong in their first-round series win over Brooklyn. Ditto in Game 1 as Washington won 104-98 to improve to 5-0 in this postseason after sweeping Toronto in Round 1. It was a rather painful win as John Wall hurt his wrist and Bradley Beal suffered an ankle injury. Both looked pretty bad, but both players would return even though Beal said: "Man, that is probably the worst I have ever turned it, honestly." They still dominated as Beal had 28 points and seven rebounds and Wall 18 points, 13 assists and seven rebounds. Wall turned it over just twice after having 27 turnovers against Atlanta during the regular season. Both will play in Game 2, although I do wonder how good Beal will be as I'm sure that ankle swelled up after the game.
On the bright side for Atlanta, it did lead by 10 at halftime and shot 52.2 percent from the field in the first half. DeMarre Carroll had 21 before intermission. The 63 points the Wizards allowed in the first half tied the most the franchise has allowed in any half of a playoff game in the past 25 years. In the second half, Washington allowed 35 points, its fourth fewest in any half of a playoff game in 25 years. Atlanta shot only 25 percent after intermission, its worst shooting half of the season. For some reason, Mike Budenholzer, the NBA's Coach of the Year, played his five starters only a combined 18:36 together even though that group had an offensive efficiency rating of 111.6 points per 100 possessions in Game 1. That's crazy good. The Hawks starters are outscoring their counterparts by 16.4 points per 100 possessions. I understand you have to use your bench, but come on. The Atlanta bench just isn't very good, especially after losing Thabo Sefolosha for the season.
Updated series line: Hawks -120, Wizards +100.
Key trends: Washington has covered eight straight against teams with a winning record. Atlanta has covered only two of its past 10 overall. The "over/under" has gone over in the past seven meetings.
Early lean: That's a few more points than I would like to give but I will. I think Atlanta plays with more desperation and that Beal isn't quite 100 percent. Go over.
Game 2: Grizzlies at Warriors (-10.5, 194.5)
I'm presuming that the Warriors will do something to honor Curry before the game and that NBA commissioner Adam Silver will be on hand to give him his NBA MVP Award. Golden State stayed unbeaten in these playoffs with a 101-86 win in Game 1. I honestly don't expect this series to go more than five games with the Grizzlies missing starting point guard Mike Conley. Right now they are only saying that Conley is unlikely to play in Game 2 with his facial fractures. He's not going to. Curry had 22 points and seven assists in Game 1, while Klay Thompson added 18 points and six assists. It was Golden State's 21st home win in a row. It shot 50.6 percent overall and 13 of 28 from long range. The Warriors averaged 112.6 points per 100 possessions in Game 1, their highest offensive efficiency against the Grizzlies this season. When Golden State has a rating of at least 110, it is 43-2 this season. After missing all four games against New Orleans because of a sore back, David Lee played only 3 1/2 minutes off the bench in the third quarter. He missed all three shots he took. Remember when he was good?
Memphis' two bigs of Zach Randolph (20 points, nine rebounds, five assists) and Marc Gasol (21 points, nine rebounds, three assists) both played well but didn't get much help. Nick Calathes, who started again in Conley's place, was 0-for-4 from the field and scoreless in 21 minutes. The bench had a total of just 21 points. Memphis was just 3 of 12 (25 percent) from beyond the arc. It's not a good perimeter team as it is but that much worse without Conley in there. The Warriors essentially dare Calathes and Courtney Lee to shoot.
Updated series line: Warriors -3300, Grizzlies +1800.
Key trends: The Grizzlies are 4-0-1 ATS in their past five after a loss. The Warriors are 2-7 ATS in their past nine after a win. The under is 5-2 in the past seven meetings.
Early lean: Grizzlies (cover not win) and under.
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