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Saturday, 20 April 2013

NBA First Round Play Off Picks 2013

The Play Offs are finally here in the NBA and you can find my thoughts on the series here

Last season, the Play Offs proved to be a very profitable series and hopefully things can follow suit this time around, although the First Round was surprisingly tough to cap a year ago.

I'll be updating this page whenever I make any picks from the First Round and will create a new page for the Semi Finals and the Conference Finals before the main NBA Finals which will begin in around six/seven weeks time.

April 20th
Boston Celtics @ New York Knicks Game 1 Pick: I am trying to not let bias rule my head in this one, but this could be a series where the New York Knicks really show they are a contender for the Championship.

It won't be easy facing an emotional Boston Celtics team that is playing for their City after the marathon bombings, but the fact that the suspects are no longer at large means the players are trying to give the people something to cheer about. If this game was at the TD Garden, it could be very hard for the Knicks, but hosting the Celtics at Madison Square Garden is a different matter.

The teams split the two games at the Garden this season, but the Knicks have won 3 in a row in the series and have Tyson Chandler back in the starting rotation. New York come into the Play Offs in better heart and I expect they can win this game and cover the spread.

Golden State Warriors @ Denver Nuggets Game 1 Pick: The Denver Nuggets will look to set the tone for this series by winning both home games after being so tough to play here during the regular season and I like their chances to do so.

There is no doubt that absence of Danilo Galinari will be felt, while Kenneth Faried will be a big miss on the boards in this game, but the Nuggets have enough depth to make life too difficult for the Warriors who they have beaten twice at home already this season, both by double digits.

Stephen Curry and the three point shooting of the Warriors will be key to their chances of winning any games in this series, as Denver have struggled to defend that side of things, but the Nuggets have enough in them to get off to a hot start.

Chicago Bulls @ Brooklyn Nets Game 1 Pick: This is one of the tougher series to separate the teams and I think that the road team getting 4.5 points may be on the generous side. Every game between the teams have been close this season and I do think Chicago match up well with Brooklyn, despite the Nets having the more talented players.

However, Chicago are about as healthy as they can be for the Play Offs, even though Joakim Noah remains a doubt for Game 1, and it has to be remembered that none of the games in the series have been decided by more than 4 points.

No matter who wins, I would be surprised to see a blowout in any games in this series so taking the points here looks the call.

Memphis Grizzlies @ LA Clippers Game 1 Pick: Another close looking series that could be tough to predict at first glance, but I do think the LA Clippers hold a mental edge over the Memphis Grizzlies and will get a chance to display that in Game 1.

The Clippers won in Memphis last week to secure home court advantage for this series and have won 7 in a row in the regular season so I am expecting confidence to not be an issue for the home team. LA are healthier than a season ago when they beat Memphis in 7 games in the First Round and they have started to get the better of the Grizzlies more often than not in recent games.

Los Angeles are 4-1 against the spread in the last 5 games in the series and I will be backing them to open this series with another win.

April 21st
Atlanta Hawks @ Indiana Pacers Game 1 Pick: Neither one of these teams has entered the Play Offs with a lot of momentum, but both know each other well enough to create a decent series. While Indiana are known for their stout defense, games between the two teams have been surprisingly high-scoring and I have a feeling this first game of the series could go the same way.

LA Lakers @ San Antonio Spurs Game 1 Pick: The LA Lakers put in a huge effort to get into the Play Offs and that could take its toll in the first game of this series. They face a San Antonio Spurs team that are back to full health and the absence of Kobe Bryant could be felt keenly in this series.

I can see San Antonio coming out fast and perhaps taking advantage of a Lakers team that exhales slightly from being in the post-season and I like the Spurs in this first game.

Milwaukee Bucks @ Miami Heat Game 1 Pick: Brandon Jennings should have kept his thoughts to himself ahead of this series and I am expecting Miami to come out and make a statement against the Bucks in this first game.

However, the spread is a big one against a team that can get hot from the three point range. Instead, I'll look for a big defensive effort from Miami to restrict Milwaukee and see the total points end below the 199 points quoted.

Houston Rockets @ Oklahoma City Thunder Game 1 Pick: Oklahoma City and Houston are very similar in the way they play the game, but the Thunder have more experience and they are the more consistent scorers.

It is no surprise that Oklahoma City have blown out Houston twice in the regular season already and I think they can get off to a fast start in this series too.

April 22nd
Chicago Bulls @ Brooklyn Nets Game 2 Pick: The Chicago Bulls were blown out on Saturday as they were hit fast and early making it impossible to recover. However, I expect the necessary adjustments to be made for Game 2 and I expect the Bulls to make it a much closer game this time around.

Defensively they have given Brooklyn a much harder time than they did on Saturday and I expect that side of things to give Chicago a better chance in this one and I will chance them with the points for the second time in this series.

Memphis Grizzlies @ LA Clippers Game 2 Pick: This won't be the blowout that we saw in Game 1 as I think Memphis will move around their pieces on the court to make sure they have a better rebounding day than they did on Saturday.

However, I still think the layers have got the total points a little wrong with it being set at 181 as both teams can easily reach the 90 point mark as far as I am concerned. The Over is only 2-6 in the last 8 in the series, but this total would have been surpassed in 3 of the last 5 played at the Staples Center and I like the chances of that happening in this one too.

April 23rd
Milwaukee Bucks @ Miami Heat Game 2 Pick: The Miami Heat dominated Game 1 thanks to their defence and LeBron James playing at the level that makes it almost impossible to stop him. I think Game 2 will follow a similar pattern, although I do expect the Bucks to make some adjustments that will help rebound the ball more effectively.

The Heat should win again, but I am sticking to the total points and going for another under even though the layers have dropped that by a couple of points.

Boston Celtics @ New York Knicks Game 2 Pick: The New York Knicks escaped with a win in Game 1 thanks to an impressive fourth quarter, but I think the Boston Celtics will have a more complete game in this one. They might just have run out of gas after being emotionally invested in all the happenings back home in Boston following the bombings and that could have taken it out of them.

Now that issue has been semi-resolved with the capture of the suspects, I think Boston can concentrate fully on getting this game and then heading back home at 1-1. If they play defensively as they did on Saturday, the 7 point head start looks too many.

Golden State Warriors @ Denver Nuggets Game 2 Pick: I thought Denver would be too strong in Game 1, but it was Golden State that dominated the boards and will feel disappointed they didn't steal home court advantage. However, since that game, David Lee has been lost for the season and Kenneth Faried is back in the rotation for Denver and I expect that will help the Nuggets cover.

Those two changes from Game 1 should give the Nuggets more control of the boards and, if they can pressure Stephen Curry as they did on Saturday, it will likely be enough to cover the 8 points here.

April 24th
Houston Rockets @ Oklahoma City Thunder Game 2 Pick: I am looking for more of the same from Game 1 and I think OKC are just too strong for Houston and pose a bad match up for the Rockets.

It won't be the 29 point blowout from Game 1, but I still like the Thunder to cover.

Atlanta Hawks @ Indiana Pacers Game 2 Pick: The layers have added a couple of points to the total points from Sunday, but I still like the over in this game. Both teams will play physical in this one and I can see the game prolonged by fouls.

The over is 4-0 in the last 4 played in Indiana and I like the chances of it again here.

LA Lakers @ San Antonio Spurs Game 2 Pick: I expect both offenses to be much improved from Sunday, but the deeper San Antonio rotation to the be the factor that helps the Spurs pull away from the Lakers.

It has been a tough season for the Lakers and this isn't a great match up without Kobe Bryant but I expect them to push San Antonio a little more and for longer than Sunday. However, it will likely have a familiar feel at the end of the game and the Lakers should be 2-0 down heading back home.

April 25th
Miami Heat @ Milwaukee Bucks Game 3 Pick: The Miami Heat can virtually put a fork in the Milwaukee Bucks by taking Game 3 of this series and putting themselves in a position to either sweep or put together a gentleman's sweep.

Miami just seem to put together a run in their games with Milwaukee and I can see another leading to the cover and a 3-0 series lead.

LA Clippers @ Memphis Grizzlies Game 3 Pick: I have been torn between picking the LA Clippers with the points or taking the over 179.5 total points in this one.

However, I think the Grizzlies may be ready to put in a big performance in this Game 3 and give themselves some life in the series and so I am going to back these two teams combining for the points.

April 26th
New York Knicks @ Boston Celtics Game 3 Pick: Boston are 0-2 down in the series, but I like their chances of taking Game 3 from the New York Knicks. The TD Garden is going to be emotional after the goings on in the City last week and I think they can keep the Celtics going for more than one half and actually completing the job this time.

San Antonio Spurs @ LA Lakers Game 3 Pick: The loss of Steve Blake is yet another problem for the LA Lakers and the less than full health Steve Nash is not going to get the job done against Tony Parker if the second half of Game 2 is anything to go by.

There is too much experience in the Spurs team to think they will get complacent now and allow the Lakers back into the series and I think the depth in the San Antonio rotation will be too much for the Lakers to overcome.

Denver Nuggets @ Golden State Warriors Pick: Home court advantage was stolen from the Denver Nuggets in Game 2, but I do think they can grab it back in Game 3 with Stephen Curry a little hobbled for Golden State.

It is tough to separate these teams and both can get hot and put together a string of points, but Curry's swollen ankle looks like it could prove to be the difference, particularly with David Lee missing too and I like the Nuggets.

April 27th
LA Clippers @ Memphis Grizzlies Game 4 Pick: The Memphis Grizzlies dominated Game 3 and have a chance to level the series, but I am expecting a lot more from the LA Clippers in this one. Chris Paul had a poor game last time out, but I expect the All-Star will bounce back and this game should have more offense than we saw in Game 3.

Indiana Pacers @ Atlanta Hawks Game 3 Pick: The Indiana Pacers have bullied the Atlanta Hawks in the first two games to take a 2-0 lead in the series, but they now have the mental burden of losing 11 straight in Atlanta to overcome.

The Hawks need to find some more consistency offensively, while they cannot allow Indiana to continue averaging 110 points per game. However, this does have the hallmarks of continuing from the first two games and covering the over total points.

Oklahoma City Thunder @ Houston Rockets Game 3 Pick: The loss of Russell Westbrook means Oklahoma City are no longer the favourites to represent the Western Conference in the NBA Finals and I also think it makes this series come alive somewhat.

How will the Thunder react to playing without their Point Guard? It is hard to tell, but I think it shifts the favour to Houston and I believe the Rockets are confident and given a boost to put some life into this series. I just think it will take a couple of days for the news of Westbrook going down until next season to really be digested by the Thunder and they may get caught in this one in an emotionally flat period.

April 28th
New York Knicks @ Boston Celtics Game 4 Pick: This could be the day when a few of the First Round series draw to a close and I am expecting the New York Knicks, even without JR Smith, to win this game.

I thought Boston could ride an emotional wave to victory in Game 3 but they can't find any consistency on offense and they look a little worn down. They are struggling to score enough points and Carmelo Anthony and the Knicks are desperate for the sweep.

Miami Heat @ Milwaukee Bucks Game 4 Pick: The Miami Heat have been in this position in each of the last two seasons and failed to complete the sweep, but I think they have too much quality for the Bucks in this series. Dwyane Wade may be missing, but Miami are getting plenty of help from the bench and are finding a run of points to put away Milwaukee despite games being a little close for a while.

Milwaukee have to be demoralised at the moment and there is too much of a gap here and I think the Heat can win another game by double digits.

San Antonio Spurs @ LA Lakers Game 4 Pick: The other series that could be closed on Sunday is the one between the San Antonio Spurs and the LA Lakers and it is tough to see how the latter can get this extended to another game in Texas when they have so many injuries to contend with.

In Game 3, they couldn't stop the Spurs doing what they wanted offensively and it is likely that it will be a similar feel. However, I think the Lakers have enough pride to try and stay closer than the huge blowout in Game 4, and I do like the over in this one.

April 29th
What a crazy weekend: Sometimes you are a little stunned by what you see, but it seems to have been the case far too much this weekend. Ty Lawson turning the ball over with Denver down by 1 points and 5 seconds left was disappointing, Kevin Durant hitting a three pointer that hit the back of the rim, bounced ten feet in the air, and clipped the front of the rim before going in was a kick in the teeth, and then San Antonio and the Lakers failing to score a single point in the final three minutes of their game with 185 total points scored was just plain embarrassing.

There really isn't a lot to be done when those things happen and all three games could have easily gone the other way and had the First Round looking really good for the blog. Instead, it has been a tough opening to the Play Offs. However, I am due some fortune landing on my side so glad that the thread is still up, even if only slightly.

April 30th
Golden State Warriors @ Denver Nuggets Game 5 Pick: This has been a series with plenty of scoring, after Game 1 anyway, and there is every chance this game could follow suit.

The Golden State Warriors are hitting plenty of three pointers and that can only assist the chance of the over in a game, while both teams push the pace and try not to resort to half court offense. The total is a big number, but it is one that these teams have managed to cover in combination and it has to be worth chancing.

Memphis Grizzlies @ LA Clippers Game 5 Pick: While this series has been an offensive struggle at times, the total remains a little low to me and that is why I think this game will be the second of the night that hits the overs.

The total is 179.5 points and it is one that has been surpassed in 3 of the 4 games in this series. The battling defences lead to fouls and that means the game is extended with free throws stopping the clock and so the over looks a decent shout again.

May 1st
Boston Celtics @ New York Knicks Game 5 Pick: I am absolutely convinced that the New York Knicks would have won Game 4 if JR Smith had not been suspended and I think they are going to find a way to run Boston out of the building in this one.

It could be close for a while, but I think the Knicks will pull away simply when the Celtics go through their offensive woes which has affected them in every game so far in the series.

Atlanta Hawks @ Indiana Pacers Game 5 Pick: The over has dominated this series and there is every chance that trend will continue with both teams capable of drawing fouls and going through phases of hitting a number of three pointers. I can't pick between them on the point spread as both teams have had their successes at different times in the series, but it looks for all the World this could go to Game 7.

Houston Rockets @ Oklahoma City Thunder Game 5 Pick: Houston could easily be winning this series 3-1, and definitely could have been at 2-2, so even being 1-3 down won't faze them just yet as they feel they have a good chance to extend this series.

Kevin Durant has been very good in the last two games in Texas, but the pressure remains on the Thunder to find the scoring that Russell Westbrook would be providing. Houston are also heating up from beyond the three point arc and this looks a very generous amount of points they are getting.

May 2nd
Brooklyn Nets @ Chicago Bulls Game 6 Pick: The Miami Heat must be enjoying this series as they are getting plenty of rest and these two teams are taking each other to the limit. It might get even better for Miami as I think there is a real chance that Brooklyn takes this to a Game 7 decider at the weekend.

The absence of Kirk Hinrich really affects the Bulls chances of guarding Deron Williams and I think Brooklyn are still confident enough that they can win this series having had chances to win both of the first two games played here. Chicago are a team that are capable of finding the wins from tough positions, but the likes of Luol Deng and Taj Gibson can't be at 100% and I do think the series is extended.

Denver Nuggets @ Golden State Warriors Game 6 Pick: The series has begun to get chippy and you have to think the referees are going to be watching closely to keep a handle on the game and not let this one descend into a farce.

Golden State have certainly had the best of the series, but completing a First Round victory brings its own pressure and they won't especially relish having to go back to the Pepsi Center for a Game 7 later this week. Both the Warriors and Denver are capable of putting up a lot of points and I think fouls could also extend the game and I do like the overs in this one.

May 3rd
Indiana Pacers @ Atlanta Hawks Game 6 Pick: I don't know why these teams seem to play so differently at home and away, but that has been the case in this entire series and all season where all 9 games have been won by the home team.

The only consistency in all of this is that the teams find enough offense to combine for the over, which is 6-1 in the last 7 between these teams and that is the pick for this one too.

New York Knicks @ Boston Celtics Game 6 Pick: It was a dumb move provoking the wounded animal that was the Boston Celtics, but that was what the New York Knicks did in Game 5 and I think that defeat will at least have focused them to get back to basics.

If the Knicks cut the stupid isolation plays they have been using in the last couple of games, I still think they are capable of going into the lion's den and booking their place in the Semi Finals.

Oklahoma City Thunder @ Houston Rockets Game 6 Pick: Since losing Russell Westbrook, it has been tough work for the Oklahoma City Thunder to find consistent scoring outside of Kevin Durant. All of that has come at the same time that the Houston Rockets have heated up from the three point line and this Game 6 is a tough one to read.

The total points have been lowered by the layers and is now a number that would have been surpassed in 4 of the 5 games played in the series and it looks like this could be another.

LA Clippers @ Memphis Grizzlies Game 6 Pick: For the last twelve months, when these teams meet one another, the layers have always liked the chances for a low-scoring game but they continue doing enough together to go over the total.

I do think the Clippers will find a big game from themselves after falling to defeat in the last three games, but do that, they will have to match the Grizzlies offensive output. Therefore, the over looks more reasonable than backing the Clippers with the points in the bank.

May 4th
Chicago Bulls @ Brooklyn Nets Game 7 Pick: This is the only First Round series that has gone the distance and I think it is tough to separate the teams. I do think the Nets are the better team, but they have shown some real mental weakness at times in games throughout the series, most notably Game 4.

However, the Nets have broken down the much vaunted Bulls defense at times and this looks like another that could be surprisingly high-scoring and I like the overs in this one.

MY PICKS: 20/04 New York Knicks - 7.5 Points @ 2.00 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
20/04 Denver Nuggets - 7.5 Points @ 1.97 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
20/04 Chicago Bulls + 4.5 Points @ 1.97 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
20/04 LA Clippers - 5.5 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
21/04 Indiana Pacers-Atlanta Hawks Over 185.5 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
21/04 San Antonio Spurs - 8.5 Points @ 2.00 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
21/04 Miami Heat-Milwaukee Bucks Under 199 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
21/04 Oklahoma City Thunder - 10 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
22/04 Chicago Bulls + 5 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
22/04 LA Clippers-Memphis Grizzlies Over 181 Points @ 2.05 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
23/04 Miami Heat-Milwaukee Bucks Under 197 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
23/04 Boston Celtics + 7 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
23/04 Denver Nuggets - 8 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
24/04 Oklahoma City Thunder - 11 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
24/04 Indiana Pacers-Atlanta Hawks Over 187 Points @ 2.00 Pinnacle (1 Unit)

24/04 San Antonio Spurs - 8.5 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
25/04 Miami Heat - 7 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
25/04 Memphis Grizzlies-LA Clippers Over 179.5 Points @ 2.05 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
26/04 Boston Celtics - 2.5 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
26/04 San Antonio Spurs - 6 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
26/04 Denver Nuggets - 1.5 Points @ 1.92 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
27/04 Memphis Grizzlies-LA Clippers Over 177 Points @ 2.00 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
27/04 Atlanta Hawks-Indiana Pacers Over 190 Points @ 2.00 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
27/04 Houston Rockets @ 1.95 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
28/04 New York Knicks - 2 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
28/04 Miami Heat - 8.5 Points @ 1.92 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
28/04 LA Lakers-San Antonio Spurs Over 189.5 Points @ 2.00 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
30/04 Denver Nuggets-Golden State Warriors Over 211.5 Points @ 2.00 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
30/04 LA Clippers-Memphis Grizzlies Over 179.5 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
01/05 New York Knicks - 9 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
01/05 Indiana Pacers-Atlanta Hawks Over 187.5 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
01/05 Houston Rockets + 9 Points @ 1.92 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
02/05 Brooklyn Nets @ 2.05 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
02/05 Golden State Warriors-Denver Nuggets Over 211 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
03/05 Atlanta Hawks-Indiana Pacers Over 186.5 Points @ 2.00 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
03/05 New York Knicks - 2 Points @ 1.92 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
03/05 Houston Rockets-Oklahoma City Thunder Over 205.5 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
03/05 Memphis Grizzlies-LA Clippers Over 179 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
04/05 Brooklyn Nets-Chicago Bulls Over 181.5 Points @ 1.92 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)

First Round Update: 21-18, + 2.19 Units

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