The first round of the NBA playoffs finished last night when the Los Angeles Clippers beat the San Antonio Spurs by two points in the seventh game of a closely contested series. The Spurs' loss left me 10 mythical dollars in the minus side and 2-2 on my predictions (I won $100 on the Grizzlies, lost $100 on the Mavericks, won $160 on the Wizards, and lost $170 on the Spurs). Since the second round is starting in 90 minutes I have no time to waste to make my round two picks and catch up. I'll be making my picks using the Sportsbook.ag lines for entertainment purposes only.
Washington Wizards vs. Atlanta Hawks
The Wizards impressively swept the struggling Raptors while the Hawks played five close games against the Nets before winning a game six blowout. I picked the Wizards to beat the Raptors and I think they will defeat an erratic and banged up Hawks team in six games, betting $100 to win $195.
Memphis Grizzlies vs. Golden State Warriors
I cannot see the Grizzlies beating this Warriors team in a seven game series - they just don't have enough offensive firepower. I think the Warriors win in five games but the 10-1 odds are too much for me to risk an injury and will sit this one out.
Chicago Bulls vs. Cleveland Cavaliers
The Bulls looked impressive in winning the first three games of their round one series against the Bucks, less than impressive in losing the next two games, and were lights out in winning the game six clincher. Meanwhile, the Cavaliers swept the gritty Celtics but lost Kevin Love for the playoffs with a dislocated shoulder and sixth man J.R. Smith for the first two games when he stupidly threw a punch at Celtics forward Jae Crowder. I say No Love, no Smith, no problem for the Cavaliers who will win this series in six games. The Bulls Derek Rose has been hopelessly erratic but his superstar status allows him to have the ball on every Bulls possession. This will lead to disaster against the Cavaliers who won't focus on who they are missing - they will focus on their having the best two players in this series in LeBron James and Kyrie Irving. I'll wager $220 to win $100 on a Cavalier series win.
Los Angeles Clippers vs. Houston Rockets
The Clippers deserve a lot of credit for ousting the defending champions but I love the way the Rockets are playing right now. Dwight Howard is rebounding everything in sight, James Harden is using his teammates in the early part of the game and saving himself for when his team needs him to score, while Josh Smith is playing at a high level of offense and defense to complement both Howard and Harden. I like the Rockets in seven games. There is no line yet on the series due to Chris Paul's hamstring injury but I'll take the Rockets for anything less than -300.