Day two of the actual playoffs features a couple of big games, including some dogs to keep an eye on. Both the Pacers and Rockets come into today getting points, and the Magic are getting double digits. The playoffs have provided good action day one, and there’s little change coming with large numbers being covered today.
Portland Trail Blazers vs. LA Lakers Predictions
Everyone is in love with the Blazers to the point where they are trying to convince themselves they have a shot against the Lakers. They do not. Portland looked out of gas for a lot of their game against the Grizzlies. Outside of Memphis just not playing good enough to take advantage of that opportunity, the Blazers were pretty lucky to hold on and win. That “luck” isn’t going to get anyone far against LA. The Lakers have struggled their way to the opening of the first round, which is probably why this number is fairly low. Beating Portland by 7-9 points shouldn’t be too difficult, especially with a recharged LeBron James and Anthony Davis. The general belief is that the series will be pushed to 6 games, possibly 7. I don’t share that only because of how bad Portland looked against Memphis. The Blazers are a good team and earned the 8th seed, but it looks like it came at a major toll to these guys, clearly impacting how they play tonight against the Lakers. Take LA, lay the 6, and watch Portland struggle for air.
Orlando Magic @ Milwaukee Bucks Predictions
Orlando comes into this ridiculous matchup a 12-point dog, but the value here would be in Milwaukee’s defense. The Bucks really have been on cruise mode since the restart in the bubble, and today is their first chance to come out and blow a team’s doors off. It’s going to happen, but Orlando will struggle to keep up. The Bucks might do the majority of damage on the scoreboard, but the Magic won’t be able to hold up their end of the bargain. Lack of consistent scoring and any turnovers are going to kill the Magic today. I’d be surprised if they even break 100, a rather easy task so far in the bubble, mainly because of how aggressive the Bucks will play. The Bucks schooled the Magic all four times they played this year, as Aaron Gordon is a game time decision for Orlando. No Gordon and you can lock this under in right now!
PICK: Under 224.5 @ -103
Miami Heat @ Indiana Pacers Predictions
Both games were fairly lopsided between the Heat and Pacers in the bubble. The biggest issue coming from these games was TJ Warren and lack of productivity. The Heat have done wonders against Warren, despite his explosive performance over the restart in Orlando. Good news for Indy is that everyone else is healthy, and their backcourt could provide an issue for the Heat. Miami is riding the -4.5 mainly because of the job they did on Warren, rather than splitting the two games in the bubble. I’ll gladly take my chances getting points in what should be a tight series with tight games throughout. The Pacers will play the Heat tight and should be able to get more than 10 points out of Warren. The biggest factor in all of this is how well Jimmy Butler plays for the Heat. If the Pacers can clamp on him or everyone else but him, they will win this game outright. Miami has played well in the bubble restart but look for the Pacers to come out early and set the tone. The Pacers will be up late, so take the points and feel better about their lead.
PICK: Pacers +4.5 @ -109
Oklahoma City Thunder @ Houston Rockets Predictions
Russell Westbrook is out at least two games for the Rockets, and James Harden struggled against the Thunder the last two times they played each other. That is why OKC comes in as a two-point favorite, despite not having a primary defender of their own in Lu Dort. The Rockets are so tough because if they are knocking down shots, they become one of the toughest teams in the NBA to defend. If they aren’t, well, it’s pretty easy to beat their smaller lineup. The Thunder don’t have a go-to guy to stop or limit Harden, which could be a major issue for OKC’s defense. Already tasked with shutting down one of the game’s most prolific scorers, the Thunder now turn to Chris Paul and his ability to run the offense. OKC won’t run with the Rockets, and you will see the Thunder trade a couple of 2’s for Rockets 3’s. Not the best strategy especially if Harden is slashing and getting to the basket. That is too much of a tough combination for the Thunder to slow down, and all it takes is Harden getting to the FT line to make matters worse for OKC. Love Houston here!
PICK: Rockets +2 @ -106