NBA Round 2, Game 1 Preview
NBA Playoff Game Predictions
By Dan Favale
Cleveland Cavaliers (-7.5) vs. Atlanta Hawks (+7.5)
This line makes sense if you view the Cleveland Cavaliers’ extensive rest as an edge. They made quick work of the Detroit Pistons in the first round, winning in four games, so they should be fresher than fresh to start their second round bout with the Atlanta Hawks, who bested the Boston Celtics in Round 1 after six contests.
But the Cavaliers haven’t been good plays on moderate to large spreads all year. They are, at times, a different animal in the postseason, but the Hawks have the defense to turn this battle into a snail paced slugfest that either favors them entirely or keeps things close for the duration of Game 1.
The opening games of seven tilt sets are, admittedly, part of the feeling out process. So you’ll need to keep that in mind before laying money down on the Hawks without thinking. But the feeling out process also applies to the Cavaliers and Hawks themselves; they need to get a taste of each other’s postseason play style before their full game plans are implented into action. That typically makes for a back and forth affair to start any series, which, in this case, would favor the Hawks’ spread odds.
The Pick: Hawks (+7.5)
San Antonio Spurs (-7.5) vs. Oklahoma City Thunder (+7.5)
Anyone expecting the second round sparring between the San Antonio Spurs and the Oklahoma City Thunder to be a tightly contested war was dealt a blow in Game 1. The Spurs absolutely blitzed the Thunder in every facet of the game. Kawhi Leonard suffocated Kevin Durant with exceptional ball denial and general on-rock peskiness, while San Antonio’s defense at large stymied Russell Westbrook.
Durant and Westbrook, of course, won’t both be off for the rest of this series. The Spurs cannot count on locking them down, together, for single games at a time, either. But San Antonio’s defense is one of the best ever, so it’s certainly a possiblity that Durant and Westbrook aren’t playing up to their usual snuff for the duration of this matchup.
And if for some reason Oklahoma City’s superstar duo starts exploding for tantalizing stat lines reguarly, the Spurs have the offensive dynamism to keep pace with the Thunder anyway. They are, as Game 1 showed, the clearly superior team—built to pick apart Oklahoma City at every turn, in every way imaginable.
The Thunder, for what it’s worth, have the talent on paper to put up a fight overall. They aren’t as inventive as the Spurs, but Durant and Westbrook can get you by for a game or two. But while they may get the best of the Spurs once or twice over the course of this series, it’s irresponsible to expect that in Game 2. The Spurs, as they’ve proved time and time again, are nearly unbeatable at home and should have little trouble securing another double digit win over Oklahoma City on Monday night.
The Pick: Spurs (-7.5)
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