NBA Playoff Game Comparisons
NBA Anlaysis & Betting Lines
Charlotte Hornets (-2) vs. Miami Heat (+2)
Credit the Charlotte Hornets with cracking the code to combat the Miami Heat’s small-ball lineups. Head coach Steve Clifford has gone big, super big, with Marvin Williams playing a lot of small forward beside a combination of Frank Kaminsky, Cody Zeller and Al Jefferson. And it has worked.
With the exception of their Game 5 squeaker, the Hornets have absolutely killed the Heat inside the paint. They have brutalized Miami with size and killed them with Jeremy Lin and Kemba Walker drives. The Heat, to this point, haven’t had an answer. Their loss in Game 5, at home, seemed like an absolute season killer. They now face a win-or-go-home-for-good situation in Game 6 after having dropped three straight contests.
But the Heat have been close in each of the last two tilts. Each has come down to the wire, and had the HEat displayed better late game execution, it could be them, not Charlotte, that’s up 3-2 and going for the kill in Game 6.
This series just feels like it’s destined to go seven games. The Heat haven’t been great, but rattling off four straight victories against a team so close in talent, as the Hornets are trying to do tonight, is hard. And unlikely.
The Pick: Heat (+2)
Indiana Pacers (-2) vs. Toronto Raptors (+2)
That the Indiana Pacers are favored at all, even at home, is a testament to their defense. They have bogged down the Toronto Raptors’ offense for long stretches at a time, grabbing big leads, only to see them dissipate—a la Game 5.
And that underscores part of their problem: They cannot generate enough offense outside of Paul George to adequately battle the Raptors. Even when one or both of DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry are struggling, Toronto has the firepower elsewhere, in Jonas Valanciunas and Cory Joseph, among others, to get by on that side of the floor.
Yes, the Raptors have been unwatchable at times. And sure, the Pacers certainly aren’t out of this series. But expect the Raptors to advance in Game 6 anyway. There is nothing overly nuanced about this play. Toronto just has more talent, and talent, in this series, has trumped scrappiness more often than not.
The Pick: Raptors (+2)
Portland Trail Blazers (-10) vs. Los Angeles Clippers (+10)
Full disclosure: There is no way the Los Angeles Clippers are going to win Game 6 against the Portland Trail Blazers. Portland has been a terror at home, and Los Angeles is without Blake Griffin and Chris Paul and will field an injured J.J. Redick. The Blazers are the far better team on paper and won’t squander the chance to complete their improbable first round push with a decisive performance on their own turf.
The real question is this: How much will they win by?
The upstart Blazers edged mostly Clippers reserves by 10 points in Game 5, and the game should come easier to them at home. But Game 5 was close until the Clippers laid an absolute egg in the third quarter. Their reserves have shown in the past, specifically against the Oklahoma City Thunder and Utah Jazz, that they can hang with superior opponents for an entire matchup even if they don’t win.
Still, it’s difficult to favor the Clippers when they’re missing so many players. Giving them 10 points isn’t attractive enough to warrant any of your action.
The Pick: Blazers (-10)
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