It's a darn shame that Portland might not have center Jusuf Nurkic available at all for its first-round series against Golden State. I'm not saying the Blazers would have a shot to win the series with Nurkic, but I do think they could win a couple of games. He had been fantastic since coming over in a completely lopsided trade with Denver. Portland head coach Terry Stotts said that he hopes Nurkic, who has missed eight straight games with a slight fracture in his right leg, will "be back at some point." The Blazers were 14-5 in games he started with them and he averaged 15.2 points and 10.4 rebounds. Here's a look at Wednesday's three Game 2s.
Free $60 in Member NBA Picks No Obligation Click Here
No. 5 Hawks at No. 4 Wizards ( -5, 210.5)
A 7 p.m. ET tip on NBA TV. Some speculated that Atlanta coach Mike Budenholzer might change his starting lineup for Game 2 after his team lost Game 1 in Washington 114-107 on Sunday. Tim Hardaway Jr. struggled in hitting 2-for-11 from the field (0-for-6 from long range) for just seven points. Budenholzer says he's sticking with Dennis Schroder, Hardaway Jr., Taurean Prince, Paul Millsap and Dwight Howard for Game 2, with Kent Bazemore coming off the bench instead of replacing Hardaway or Prince. Bazemore is a better defender than both. Atlanta certainly needs more from Dwight Howard than seven points; he was minus-21 for Game 1. He only got six shot attempts.
John Wall scored a playoff career-high 32 points in the opener, and really the story line of this series was whether the Hawks could contain Wall. So far the answer is no. Bradley Beal added 22 points and Markieff Morris 21 in the first-ever playoff game of his career. Guy has been in the league since 2011. The Wizards blew open the game with a 30-13 run to turn a 48-45 halftime deficit into a 75-61 lead. Millsap said the Wizards won the game because "we were playing basketball and they were playing MMA," referring to Washington's physicality. Washington hosted its first Game 1 in the playoffs since the 1979 NBA Finals, when the franchise was known as the Bullets.
Key trends: The Wizards are 7-0 against the spread in their past seven conference quarterfinals game. The "over/under" is 7-2 in Washington's past nine at home.
Early lean: Wizards and over.
No. 6 Thunder at No. 3 Rockets (-7.5, 224)
Shown on TNT at 8 p.m. ET. Oklahoma City lost Game 1 118-87 on Sunday. Russell Westbrook had 22 points on 6-for-23 shooting along with nine turnovers. He was two rebounds shy of a triple-double. The guy got no help. Victor Oladipo was 1-for-12 for six points. Steven Adams was held to six points too - remember how good he was in the 2016 playoffs? Taj Gibson and Doug McDermott, acquired from the Bulls at the trade deadline, were non-factors. So was Enes Kanter, who was a defensive sieve and basically banished to the bench by Billy Donovan after a particularly terrible effort on a Houston pick-and-roll play that led to a dunk by Clint Capela.
Sunday's win was the first for Houston coach Mike D'Antoni in the playoffs since April 2008 with the Suns as his past two playoff teams, the Knicks and Lakers, were both swept. James Harden had 37 points, nine assists and seven rebounds. Patrick Beverley played strong defense on Westbrook and added 21 points and 10 rebounds. The Rockets outscored the Thunder in the paint 62-38 to go with a 31-4 advantage in second-chance points. It should concern Thunder backers that this was a blowout with Houston's Eric Gordon and Lou Williams both having pretty quiet nights. Plus OKC was the NBA's best rebounding teams during the regular season but gashed on the boards 56-41 in Game 1.
Key trends: The Thunder are 1-6 ATS in their past seven in Houston. The over is 5-2 in the past seven there.
Early lean: Rockets and under.
No. 8 Trail Blazers at No. 1 Warriors (-15, 220.5)
Second TNT game at 10:30 p.m. ET. Without Nurkic, Portland is essentially a two-man team of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum. They kept the Blazers into Game 1 for three quarters but the Warriors pulled away for a 121-109 win. McCollum (41 points) and Lillard (34) combined for 75 points. They were first Blazers teammates to score 34 or more points in a playoff game since Clyde Drexler and Terry Porter on May 19, 1992. The other Blazers combined for 35 points on 12-for-39 shooting. The Blazers were also easily outrebounded with little size to speak of.
For the Warriors, Kevin Durant had 32 points and 10 rebounds, Steph Curry 29 points and Draymond Green 19 points, 12 rebounds, nine assists, five blocked shots and three steals. It was Durant's 92nd playoff game but first in which he had at least 30 points and 10 rebounds and shot at least 60% from the field. Green also played his usual spectacular defense. He was the primary defender on 20 Blazers plays. They shot 25 percent (4-for-16) on those with three turnovers. With Durant and Curry on the bench to start the fourth quarter, Green led a 15-2 run to turn an 88-88 tie into a 13-point lead.
Key trends: The Blazers are 6-1 ATS in their past seven after a loss. The over is 7-2 in the past nine meetings in Oakland.
Early lean: Blazers and over.
Want free sports betting picks? Doc's Sports has you covered - get $60 worth of picks free from any of Doc's Sports expert handicappers. Click here for free picks (new clients only) .
Read more articles by Alan Matthews
Most Recent NBA Handicapping Articles
- Free NBA Picks: Saturday, Dec. 8, 2018, Opening Line Report and Handicapping
- Expert NBA Handicapping: Home and Road Differences
- Expert NBA Handicapping: Utah Jazz Off to Rough Start
- NBA Betting and Handicapping: Studs and Duds Against the Spread
- 2019 NBA Championship Odds and Expert Predictions
- Expert NBA Handicapping: Betting Teams Out of Playoff Chase Already
- NBA Betting Advice: Handicapping the Golden State Warriors Drama
- NBA Betting and Handicapping: Los Angeles Clippers for Real After Hot Start?
- Expert NBA Handicapping: The Cavaliers Post-LeBron
- Expert NBA Handicapping: Toronto Raptors True Contender in East