The following should provide you with a little insight for the upcoming postseason, as we approach the two-month stretch to determine your NBA champion.
Hope you enjoy the write-ups!!!
No. 1 OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER (60-22 SU, 48-32-2 ATS) vs.
No. 8 HOUSTON ROCKETS (45-37 SU, 41-40-1 ATS)
Season series: Thunder 2-1 SU and ATS. Oklahoma City smoked the Rockets in the teams’ first two meetings, winning by 22 and 30 points before the turn of the calendar year. Houston responded at home in February with a three-point, 122-119 marathon win. The straight-up winner is on a five-game win streak at the window, while the Rockets have won and covered three of the last five meetings dating back to last season.
Oklahoma City Backstory: An intriguing first-round clash for the Thunder, as they end up with Houston, rather than the Los Angeles Lakers. That means they’ll face a key member of last year’s Western Conference championship team, James Harden, who was dealt to the Rockets during the offseason. Oklahoma City will obviously be driven to make its second straight trip to the NBA Finals.
Houston Backstory: I think it comes down to how well Harden and Jeremy Lin play. The Rockets will be trying to catch Oklahoma City with its guard down, while proving they’re much better than an 8-seed. Harden went from being the sixth man with the Thunder to a leader on the Rockets. Lin, meanwhile, has played a key role in his first full season as a starter. His play against point guard Russell Westbrook will be fun to watch.
ATS Notes: Houston comes into the postseason on a 6-15 slide against the Northwest division, 3-8 with a suitcase in hand and 1-5 in its last six games – all versus Western Conference teams. Meanwhile, the defending Western Conference champs are in on ATS streaks of 16-6 at home, 19-7 against the Southwest Division, 46-19 versus Western Conference teams, 5-1 against winning teams and 5-1 when hosting the Rockets.
Over/Under: The Rockets were dead even with their totals, going 41-41 this season. On the road they were 21-20, while they were 20-21 in H-town. Oklahoma City was 36-46 with its totals, going 20-21 at home and 16-25 while ordering room service.
Prediction: I don’t care how scrappy the Rockets are, and what they do with Harden and Lin, the Thunder have one goal in mind, and that’s to avenge last year’s loss to the Miami Heat. I like OKC to win this series in 5.
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No. 2 SAN ANTONIO SPURS (58-24 SU, 39-41-2 ATS) vs.
No. 7 LOS ANGELES LAKERS (45-37 SU, 34-47-1 ATS)
Season series: Spurs 2-1 SU and 1-2 ATS. While the Spurs won two of the three regular season meetings, the Lakers snatched the cash in the last two meetings of the season, including last week’s 91-86 victory. That was the first game for the Lakers after losing Kobe Bryant to a season-ending injury. In the Spurs’ two wins, make note they won by a total of five points. The road team is on winning runs of 5-4 SU and 6-3 ATS when these two get together. The straight-up winner has covered 9 of the last 10 meetings.
San Antonio Storyline: I’m not so sure how excited the Spurs are to play hungry Los Angeles team that just won the regular-season series finale last week. San Antonio comes in battling injuries and after losing three straight games and seven of its last 10. With Tony Parker nursing nagging injuries, I have to wonder how effective he will be. This is a team that does not look like a No. 2 seed, despite coming in with the Western Conference’s second-best mark.
Los Angeles Storyline: Amazingly, the Lakers not only made the playoffs, but they arrive on a five-game win streak that includes two straight wins without Bryant, who tore his Achilles’ tendon last week. And the Lakers not only managed to make the postseason, but by winning out, and topping Houston in the season finale, they nabbed the No. 7 seed and avoided having to play the top-seeded Oklahoma City Thunder in this round.
ATS Notes: The Lakers check into the postseason on ATS streaks of 5-1 against the Southwest, 2-5 on the highway and 7-3 when playing in the Alamo. The Spurs, meanwhile, are mired in ATS slides of 3-13 against Western Conference foes, 1-7 at home, 0-4 versus Pacific Division teams and 5-16 overall.
Over/Under: The Lakers were 43-38-1 with their totals this season, going 19-21-1 at home and shading the over on the road with a 24-17 mark with a suitcase in hand. Defensive-minded San Antonio was 36-46 with its over/unders, going 17-24 at home and 19-22 on the highway.
Prediction: While everyone loves the Spurs in this series, but something tells me the future of the Lakers is about to shine through, and we’re going to see a much more cohesive team now that Kobe is on the shelf. In a shocker, Lakers in 7.
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No. 3 DENVER NUGGETS (57-25 SU, 49-33 ATS) vs.
No. 6 GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS (47-35 SU, 42-39-1 ATS)
Season series: Nuggets 3-1 SU and ATS. The third-seeded Denver Nuggets scored triple figs in each of the four meetings with Golden State this season, which should come as no surprise with as explosive an offense they had. Oddly enough, these two met thrice in November, with Denver winning the first two, and the Warriors stealing the third meeting. Their fourth and final clash came on Jan. 13, and the Nuggets scored their second 11-point win over Golden State of the season. The home team is on a 7-2 SU run, while the straight-up winner in this clash has covered eight in a row.
Denver Storyline: While the Oklahoma City Thunder, San Antonio Spurs and Los Angeles Lakers managed to monopolize the Western Conference headlines for most of the season, the Nuggets quietly did their part to ascend to No. 3 overall, and remain a serious threat as long as they’re hosting games in the Mile High City. The Nuggets have won 23 straight at home, and that’s a big deal as long as they’re hosting a series.
Golden State Storyline: I have to admire coach Mark Jackson and what he’s done with the Oaktown boys. This marks the second trip to the postseason for Golden State in 19 years, and something tells me it’s just the beginning of a something good for the Warriors. I don’t know if this is an all-out breakthrough year, but this will be a team to reckon with behind the talents of Stephen Curry, the new single-season 3-point record-holder.
ATS Notes: While the Warriors have covered four of five against Western Conference foes, they’re mired in ATS slides of 5-11 on the road and 5-14 against winning teams. Meanwhile, the third-seeded Nuggets are in on ATS sprees of 10-1 against Pacific Division teams, 15-5 in Denver, 18-8 overall and 4-1 when hosting the Warriors.
Over/Unders: Golden State was 47-35 with its totals all season, going 22-19 in Oakland and pushing the tempo by going 25-16 when traveling. Denver also favored high numbers, going an identical 47-35 with its totals (20-21 at home and 27-14 on the road).
Prediction: I expect to see some high-scoring, entertaining basketball games with these two, but as much as I like Jackson and what he’s done with the Warriors, I don’t think they’re mature enough to hang. Nuggets win the series of marathon games in 6.
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