Has Paul George played his final game in an Indiana Pacers uniform? It's quite possible after they were swept out of the playoffs by Cleveland on Sunday, a series that was a lot closer than a sweep might indicate. George is set to hit free agency after next season. If he gives team president Larry Bird indications that he's not going to re-sign, then Bird has to deal him now. It benefits Indiana if George is named to an All-NBA team, which is probably a 50/50 proposition. If he does, the Pacers are eligible to offer him a deal that would be about $70 million more lucrative than any other open-market offer. The Pacers have finished seventh in the East and been ousted in the first round two straight years, so George might want to leave. It's not a secret around the NBA that he wants to go play for his hometown Lakers. How much would L.A. be willing to give up, though, if it could simply sign George in the summer of 2018? Point guard Jeff Teague is a free agent immediately. Here's a look at Tuesday's Game 5 playoff action.
Free $60 in Member NBA Picks No Obligation Click Here
Game 5: Thunder at Rockets ( -7.5, 223)
Houston leads 3-1 with a tip of 8 p.m. ET on TNT. Is this the end of the year for OKC star Russell Westbrook? I've written before that the 2016-17 regular season likely will be most remembered for Westbrook's brilliance in joining Oscar Robertson as the only players to average a triple-double. Westbrook also broke the Big O's single-season record with 42 triple-double. Russ is working on three straight of them in this series, joining Wilt Chamberlain as the only guys with that many consecutive triple-doubles in the playoffs. Westbrook is the only one to have three in a row of at least 30 points. He finished with 35 points (just 10-for-28 shooting), 14 points and 14 rebounds in the Thunder's 113-109 Game 4 loss. They blew a 14-point third-quarter lead. How ridiculous is Andre Roberson? Great defensive player and has given James Harden some trouble but he's now an obscene 2-for-17 from the free-throw line in the series. I could make 3-for-17 with my eyes closed. The Rockets were hacking him intentionally at times in Game 4 as he was 2-for-12.
Harden was a bit off in Game 4 as he tweaked his ankle in Game 3 and it seemed to rob him of some quickness and explosiveness. He was 5-for-16 from the field and 0-for-7 from 3-point range in finishing with 16 points. But while the OKC bench is terrible, the Rockets got a combined 64 points from reserves Nene, Eric Gordon and Lou Williams. Nene tied an NBA playoff record by making all 12 shots. The previous guy to do that was the Kings' Larry McNeill in 1975 vs. Chicago. Current Rockets coach Mike D'Antoni was a teammate of McNeill's. You know the Rockets want to finish this off and get Harden some rest ahead of facing either Memphis or San Antonio.
Key trends: The Rockets are 1-5 against the spread in their past six at home. The road team is 6-2 ATS in the past eight meetings. The "over/under" is 4-1 in the past five meetings in Houston.
Early lean: Rockets close it out but take the points. Go over.
Game 5: Grizzlies at Spurs (-9.5, 186.5)
A 9 p.m. ET start on NBA TV. Perhaps I underestimated the Grizzlies as I thought they were looking at being swept after handily dropping the first two games in San Antonio. However, the Grizz won both at home to send it back to south Texas all tied at 2. On Saturday, it was 110-108 in overtime. Guard Mike Conley had a franchise playoff record 35 points. It was Marc Gasol, though, who hit the winning 12-foot floater with 0.7 seconds left in OT. Memphis somehow won despite committing a team playoff-record 23 turnovers that led to 31 San Antonio points. Gasol had 16 points and 12 rebounds. Zach Randolph, in the starting lineup for the second game in a row, added 12 points and 11 rebounds.
San Antonio's Kawhi Leonard was spectacular with a career-high 43 points; George Gervin holds the franchise playoff mark of 46 points in 1978. Leonard scored the Spurs' final 16 in regulation as they rallied from 10-point hole and become the only player over the past 20 postseasons to produce at least his team's 15 final points of the fourth quarter. He did miss a 21-footer at the regulation buzzer. Leonard tied the game at 108 on a 3-pointer with 17 seconds to go in OT. Tony Parker scored 22 points after being shut out in Game 3. The Spurs got just 17 points from their bench. What the heck has happened to Pau Gasol? San Antonio owns a 2-1 record in the past three series it started with a 2-0 lead before losing Games 3 and 4.
Key trends: The Grizzlies are 6-2 ATS in the past eight meetings. The under is 5-1 in the previous six in San Antonio.
Early lean: Grizzlies and under.
Game 5: Jazz at Clippers (-3, 196.5)
Second TNT game at 10:30 p.m. ET. This series took quite an interesting twist over the weekend. I favored the Clippers to win it when Jazz star center and potential NBA Defensive Player of the Year Rudy Gobert injured his knee in Game 1 and missed the next two. Then things evened out when Blake Griffin hurt his toe in the first half of Game 3 and was ruled out for the playoffs. That guy just can't stay healthy, but the Clippers really have no choice but to offer the free agent a max contract. Might Griffin be tired of not being the "Man" (that's Chris Paul) and decide to go elsewhere? We shall see.
In a modest surprise before Game 4, Gobert was cleared to play - now you'd have to give Utah the edge in this series even though L.A. is a slight overall favorite because it has potentially two home games left, including this one. The Jazz won Sunday night 105-98 as Gobert had 15 points, 13 rebounds and two blocks in 24 minutes. Utah got only nine minutes out of leading scorer Gordon Hayward due to food poisoning. Joe Johnson blew up with 28 points off the bench, hitting 12 of 17 from the field. It was Utah's first home playoff win since 2010. Marresse Speights started for Griffin and had five points and four rebounds in 21 minutes. Now the already-weak L.A. bench, still missing Austin Rivers, is that much worse. Paul Pierce is a future Hall of Famer, but he shouldn't be on the court at age 39.
Key trends: The Clippers are 5-2-1 ATS in their past eight following an ATS loss. The under is 5-1 in the past six meetings in L.A.
Early lean: The Clippers have historically played well without Griffin as long as Paul is in the lineup. I lean L.A. here only because Gobert's minutes could still be limited and perhaps Hayward still won't be 100 percent. I do believe this is going seven games. Go under.
We would like to offer you $60 of member's predictions free - no obligation, no sales people - you don't even have to enter credit card information. Click Here for $60 in free NBA predictions. Also, for a limited time only, you can get three handicappers NBA picks for the price of one! Click Here for more details !
Read more articles by Alan Matthews
Most Recent NBA Handicapping Articles
- Free NBA Picks: Wednesday, March 21, 2018, Opening Line Report and Handicapping
- Free NBA Picks: Tuesday, March 20, 2018, Opening Line Report and Handicapping
- Handicapping the NBA Western Conference Playoff Race
- Free NBA Picks: Saturday, March 17, 2018, Opening Line Report and Handicapping
- Free NBA Picks: Friday, March 16, 2018, Opening Line Report and Handicapping
- Free NBA Picks: Thursday, March 15, 2018, Opening Line Report and Handicapping
- Free NBA Picks: Wednesday, March 14, 2018, Opening Line Report and Handicapping
- Free NBA Picks: Tuesday, March 13, 2018, Opening Line Report and Handicapping
- Free NBA Picks: Saturday, March 10, 2018, Opening Line Report and Handicapping
- Free NBA Picks: Friday, March 9, 2018, Opening Line Report and Handicapping