Free NBA Picks: Tuesday, May 8, 2018, Opening Line Report and Handicapping
Has any NBA guy won Coach of the Year honors and been fired in the same season? I couldn't find an example of that occurring - the next season, sure. However, I believe we might see that this week if the Toronto Raptors, as I expect, are swept out of the playoffs Monday night in Cleveland. Dwane Casey is definitely in the running for Coach of the Year - I think it should go to Utah's Quin Snyder, but I don't have a vote - but he has been thoroughly out-strategized in that series by Cavs coach Ty Lue, a relative newbie. You can't be the top seed in your conference and set a franchise record for victories and be swept out of the postseason. Just not allowed. Raptors president Masai Ujiri reportedly is very high on assistant Nick Nurse and could simply promote him to keep some sort of continuity. Nurse already spoke with the Suns and Hornets about their head coach vacancies but didn't get either job. (Hornets gig open as of this writing but team is reportedly set on choosing between Spurs assistant James Borrego and Celtics assistant Jay Larranaga.) Here's a look at Tuesday's Game 5s with both favorites poised to finish things off and set up an epic Western Conference Finals (and I believe de facto NBA Finals).
Jazz at Rockets ( -12, 208)
An 8 p.m. ET tip on TNT. The Jazz have been a great story this season, and Donovan Mitchell has been truly spectacular - this team should be good for a long while, although it's tough to get free agents to go live in Salt Lake City. Not exactly the most fun place if you are a young, rich NBA player. Other than stealing Game 2 in Houston, Utah has been outclassed in this series, losing the other three games each by double digits. It was 100-87 on Sunday. Houston shot just 42 percent overall and 10-for-38 from deep (that will get the Rockets beat by Golden State), but Utah hit only 38.6 percent overall and 24.1 percent (7-for-29) from deep. In the final three minutes of the game, Utah attempted 10 shots. Five were blocked by Clint Capela and three more missed. Capela finished with six blocks and became the only player in the last 20 seasons with five blocks in the final three minutes of a game (regular season or playoffs).
Already without Ricky Rubio, the Jazz lost backup point guard Dante Exum in the third quarter, also to a hamstring injury. Exum has played fantastic defense in this series on James Harden. Harden finished with 24 points (8-for-22) and Chris Paul 27 points and 12 rebounds. Capela chipped in 12 points and 15 rebounds. Mitchell got his 25 points, but Jae Crowder was 1-for-11 from the field for five points. Utah just doesn't have a great second scoring option yet. This could be the final game in a Jazz uniform for solid power forward Derrick Favors as he's set for free agency and likely will be too pricy for Utah to bring back. Favors had been starting but played off the bench (with Crowder starting) in Game 4 and was a team-best plus-14.
Key trends: The Jazz are 14-5 against the spread in their past 19 road game vs. teams with a winning home record. The Rockets are 5-1 ATS in their past six after scoring at least 100 points in their previous game. The "over/under" has gone under in five of Utah's past six. It's 4-1 in the previous five meetings.
Early lean: Jazz and under.
Pelicans at Warriors (-12, 227)
Also a TNT game with a 10:30 p.m. ET tip. Same kind of deal with New Orleans in regards to Utah. Fine season and something to build off, but the Pelicans simply aren't in the Warriors' class. The Dubs were never much threatened in Sunday's 118-92 victory. Kevin Durant led the Warriors with 38 points and Steph Curry chipped in 23. Durant scored 24 points against primary defenders who were shorter than him in Game 4, his most this series. Curry passed Manu Ginobili for the third-most three-point made field goals in in NBA postseason history (325). The only two players with more are Ray Allen (385) and LeBron James (346). Every member of Golden State's starting five was at least plus-21. For the first time in the Steve Kerr Era, he started the team's best five players: Durant, Curry, Klay Thompson, Draymond Green and Andre Iguodala - Iggy usually comes off the bench.
What has been a staple of the Warriors all season, which is a sign of good coaching, is dominating in the third quarter after making adjustments at halftime. The Dubs were plus-14 in the third of Game 4 and were plus-371 in the quarter this season, best in the NBA. Anthony Davis had 26 points and 12 rebounds for New Orleans, but the Pelicans hit only 36 percent (32 of 88) of their shots, missing 22 of 26 3-point attempts. Rajon Rondo was held to six assists after 21 in Game 3. As usual, New Orleans got little from its bench; Warriors reserve Quinn Cook, who was a Pelican briefly last season, nearly outscored the Pels' reserves by himself. As of now, the West Finals weren't set to start until May 16 but could be moved up to Sunday should both the Rockets and Dubs end their series Tuesday.
Key trends: The Pelicans are 6-1 ATS in their past seven on the road. The Warriors are 3-7 ATS in their past 10 at home. The over is 10-4 in the past 14 meetings.
Early lean: Pelicans and over.
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