NBA Playoff Game Matchup Comparisons
NBA Playoff Game Predictions & Preview
Toronto Raptors (-7) vs. Indiana Pacers (+7)
This line seems to be banking on the fact that the Toronto Raptors will either blast the Indiana Pacers in the wake of their Game 4 implosion, or that the underdog Pacers have found a way to blow this series wide open. It doesn’t really account for the game being close, and in this case, given how the first four tilts of this set have gone, that makes for tough betting.
Knowing this, the Raptors emerge as the clear pick if you’re so inclined to lay down money on this matchup. They are at home and responded to their Game 1 loss by winning each of the next two contests.
Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan will both need to play better, since the Raptors cannot carve out consistent offensive potency when at least one of them isn’t on point. The defense on Paul George will need to be flawless as well. DeMarre Carroll and Norman Powell did a nice job limiting his scoring opportunities in Game 4, but he has been money for most of this series. The Raptors can ill afford to let him get going again.
Chances are they’ll fail to some degree. Maybe George doesn’t explode, but he is a tried and true superstar and has shown that he can drill incredibly tough shots during this series. And that’s part of the appeal for the Raptors.
The Pacers are so reliant on George because of how inconsistent their supporting cast plays. He received a ton of help in Game 1, while both George Hill and Ian Mahinmi came up huge in Game 4. But that surrounding contribution is not something on which the Pacers can count long term. For a game or two, yes. But not every night.
Toronto is deeper in that regard and, thus, better eqiupped to win this series in decisive fashion, even if it goes the distance—including this here Game 5.
The Pick: Raptors (-7)
Atlanta Hawks (-7) vs. Boston Celtics (+7)
Under no circumstances should we expect the remaining two or three games between the Atlanta Hawks and Boston Celtics to be anything but super close. This series has been a slog through and through, playing host to only one blowout.
Each team has held serve on its own turf thus far, which would seem to bode well for the Hawks. They held a big lead in Atlanta during Game 1 and absolutely demolished the Celtics in Game 2. Boston is also still playing without Avery Bradley. And while Kelly Olynyk returned to the lineup in Game 4, he was limited, unable to play at full bore.
But the Celtics, as they’ve shown, are scrappy. If a few bounces went the other way, they’re actually up 3-1 in this series. They are a threat to be taken seriously, even on the road, when they’re shorthanded and the home team is decisvely favored.
Head coach Brad Stevens appears to have unlocked the door to spacing the floor without Avery Bradley, which is huge. Jonas Jerebko has turned in two consecutive outstanding performances after being inserted into the starting lineup, and using Evan Turner as the primary ball handler has allowed Isaiah Thomas to work off the rock as a cutter and spot-up shooter. Marcus Smart’s outside accuracy cannot be depended upon long term because of how inefficient he’s been in the past, but he is shooting the ball well from deep right now. That’s opening up Boston’s offense as well.
None of which diminishes what the Hawks have done and can still do. But even if they win Game 5, they will do so after gutting out a tightly contested affair.
The Pick: Celtics (+7)
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