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Saturday, 19 April 2014

NBA First Round Play Off Picks 2014

This has been a really tough season when it comes to my picks as I have had bad luck, but also made some ridiculously poor picks (any time you pick Milwaukee/Philadelphia to cover, it shouldn't feel good no matter how many points you get on your side).

That happens once in a while, even through the course of a season, but hopefully the Play Offs will prove to be a 'different season' for the picks and get back to winning ways.

There is no doubt that there is plenty of exciting times ahead, particularly if you're a fan of the Western Conference which looks loaded with strong games from the very First Round. It isn't the case so much for the Eastern Conference, but both Miami and Indiana haven't looked themselves which makes it a more intriguing First Round than I would have perhaps expected when the season was drawing to a close.

The NBA Play Offs will be starting on Saturday 19th April and the next couple of months should be a lot of fun. I will be adding daily picks from the Play Off First Round on this thread, let's hope for some luck on and off the court.

Saturday 19th April
Brooklyn Nets @ Toronto Raptors Game One Pick: Experience against Youth, Athleticism against Veterans, are the kind of things we will be hearing during this series as the Toronto Raptors look to make home court advantage count as they open the Play Offs.

The lack of experience could be the biggest factor for Toronto to overcome against the Brooklyn Nets, but they have played with a freedom in recent weeks that should help them in this first game.

Nerves are always hard to judge, but Toronto are talented and can certainly give Brooklyn all they can handle. The Nets are also very happy with the series as they looked like they had been picking the Raptors as their First Round match up, but the excitement of the home crowd could carry Toronto to take the opening game.

As Brooklyn have rested players down the stretch, they may not have the full chemistry that they would need to immediately steal home court, and I am backing Toronto to win and cover the opening game of the series.

Golden State Warriors @ LA Clippers Game One Pick: If Andrew Bogut was available for the Golden State Warriors, I would see this being a much tighter series, but I like the LA Clippers to come through it. They will need to set the tone in this match from the first game and have proved too good for the Warriors when playing them at the Staples Center recently.

Both teams can get hot shooting the ball that always makes spreads like these look dangerous, but the Clippers have been comfortable winners at home in the two games previously this season and I think they have less adjustments to make. Without Bogut, Mark Jackson may still not be entirely sure how he wants the series to be played and I think the Clippers give him more to think about ahead of game two.

Atlanta Hawks @ Indiana Pacers Game One Pick: When the Atlanta Hawks are on, they have plenty of three point shooters that can put the pressure on their opponents, but the Indiana Pacers have a very good defence. The Pacers won all 3 home games against the Hawks in the Play Offs last season in their First Round series, all comfortably too, but the form down the stretch wasn't very good.

The Hawks won't have anything to lose and I think they can make the points look a little high in this first game.

Memphis Grizzlies @ Oklahoma City Thunder Game One Pick: The Memphis Grizzlies have been in Play Off mode for a couple of weeks as they have needed to push the Phoenix Suns out of contention, but they may just take a breath in this first game of a seven game series.

As inconsistent as the Oklahoma City Thunder have been in recent games, Kevin Durant will want to get this series of to a better start than last season to show the Thunder mean business this time around.

Sunday 20th April
Dallas Mavericks @ San Antonio Spurs Game One Pick: Game One of the NBA Play Offs were dominated by the underdog on Saturday, but I think this one could go more in the fashion of the Oklahoma City Thunder win over Memphis. Dallas put in a huge effort on days ago to avoid playing the San Antonio Spurs and that may adversely affect them in this game.

There is plenty of experience in both squads, but I think the Spurs will do enough defensively to secure a double digit win in the first game.

Charlotte Bobcats @ Miami Heat Game One Pick: Miami have been going through the motions towards the end of the regular season, but I expect them to turn up the defensive intensity now the Play Offs have begun. It hasn't been easy to see off the Bobcats despite the sweep of the regular season series, but the Heat covered in three of those games and I like them to begin this First Round series in a very positive manner.

The lack of Play Off experience in the Charlotte roster may bring up some nerves in this first game of the series too.

Washington Wizards @ Chicago Bulls Pick: There haven't been too many close games to this point of the NBA Play Offs and I think this game could reverse that trend with Washington capable of scoring enough points to make Chicago have to think. The Bulls are the right favourites to win the series, but games between the teams have been dominated by the underdog.

In recent games, the underdog is 7-1 against the spread and I am taking the points with Washington in game one.

Portland Trail Blazers @ Houston Rockets Game One Pick: This should be a really fun series to watch and I expect both teams will reach triple digits on a number of occasions- Houston have the experience and the slightly better all around team and I think they will back up their success from the regular season by beating Portland in this First Round series too.

With the three pointers on display, leads will quickly be evaporated throughout these games, but I like Houston to find a way to win this first game of the series and cover the spread.

Monday 21st April
You know when you should have had a winning pick when you see a tweet like this.

Give the Portland Police a lot of credit for the humorous nature of the tweet, but I think the Houston Rockets should be incredibly disappointed they didn't cover the spread let alone win the game.

Memphis Grizzlies @ Oklahoma City Thunder Game Two PickThis series was always going to be about which team can impose their style on the other and I don't suppose any game will be decided by anything more than those margins.

I am interested to see how Memphis would have recovered mentally and physically after the second half efforts on Saturday, particularly with 48 hours between Game One and Game Two. If they can replicate the Third Quarter on Saturday for 48 minutes, the Grizzlies could cause a surprise.

However, I think the Thunder have a little too much scoring for them and I will back them to win and cover for the second time in the series.

Golden State Warriors @ LA Clippers Pick: The zig-zag theory hasn't been working as well as it used to in recent seasons, but these teams are so closely matched that I think it is worth backing the LA Clippers to win and cover in Game Two.

If the referees don't take the same stance as Game One, the likes of Blake Griffin should have a much bigger impact in this game and I can imagine him leading the Clippers on the scoring to level up the series before heading to Golden State for Games Three and Four.

Tuesday 22nd April
Atlanta Hawks @ Indiana Pacers Game Two Pick: The zig-zag theory produced two winners on Monday night in the first of the Game Two match ups, but I won't be backing the Indiana Pacers to make it three out of three. It is hard to imagine the Pacers losing again at home, especially with the adjustments they will make between games, but the Hawks are playing better than them at this moment.

That momentum can be hard to stop and Atlanta might feel this is their best chance to get a real grip on the series while the Indiana Pacers second guess themselves. Atlanta have won on their last 2 visits to Indiana and they should be able to keep this close even in a losing effort.

Brooklyn Nets @ Toronto Raptors Game Two Pick: Games between Toronto and Brooklyn have been very tight all season which is highlighted by the fact that the 7 point win for the Nets on Saturday was the second largest margin in 5 games between the teams.

The Raptors are going to be the more desperate team in this one and I expect they will be getting to the foul line with more regularity than they produced in Game One. As experienced as Brooklyn are in their ranks, it is tough to win back to back games on the road against the same team and I think they are already satisfied with taking home court advantage in the series.

I wouldn't expect the Nets to roll over, but I do think Toronto win this game by at least five points and cover the spread.

Washington Wizards @ Chicago Bulls Game Two Pick: With the way Chicago have rallied through injuries to Derrick Rose and the trading of Luol Deng to the Cleveland Cavaliers, I absolutely expect the Bulls to have a big response to losing Game One on Tuesday evening.

They can play much better defensively than they did on Sunday, but Chicago now have to pick their poison and decide whether they want to keep the big men of Marcin Gortat and Nene quiet, or continue to harry and nag the likes of Bradley Beal and John Wall.

The Bulls have to show more consistent offense too if they are to win this game, but I do believe Tom Thibodeau will rally the troops and make a couple of adjustments to help them turnaround the result from Sunday.

Either way, the total points look a touch on the low side as three of their four games this season would have surpassed the number. If the referees continue playing the fouls as tight as they did a couple of days ago, both teams should get to 90 points in this one which means very likely going over the 181.5 total points line posted.

Wednesday 23rd April
Charlotte Bobcats @ Miami Heat Game Two Pick: The Miami Heat have dominated the Charlotte Bobcats in recent games and a hobbled Al Jefferson would make it that much more difficult for the Bobcats to spring a surprise.

There are stretches where Charlotte really give Miami all they can handle, but the Heat always seem to have an extra gear and I expect them to kick on and ensure a 2-0 lead in the First Round series with the second cover in the series.

Dallas Mavericks @ San Antonio Spurs Game Two Pick: It was a really strange Game One of the series where San Antonio started off so well, but then disappointed for two and half Quarters, while Dallas had a big lead without Dirk Nowitzki playing well at all.

Gregg Popovich would not have been happy with the way his veteran and experienced team took to the court on Sunday and I expect him to make a couple of adjustments to the first game. Those should help the Spurs play a more solid 48 minutes and I expect them to be more focused after being given a real scare in Game One.

It was also about as well as Dallas can play against the Spurs and there has to be a lingering disappointment with the way the game ended and I think San Antonio could take advantage of any doubts in the Mavericks minds.

Portland Trail Blazers @ Houston Rockets Game Two Pick: It has to be the most disappointing losses of the first round of games in the NBA Play Offs when Houston continually blew a lead to end up gifting Portland Game One of this series.

The interesting factor is how Portland approach Game Two- will they look to up the ante and really push for another win to take a 0-2 lead in the First Round series or are they happy with the guaranteed split of the first two games?

With the way that both teams attack and score points, I do think Portland will put in the necessary effort to try and win the game, but I think Kevin McHale makes the adjustments to earn the split of the first two games. I expect bigger games from Dwight Howard and James Harden, although the 'Hack-A-Howard' strategy has every chance of helping the Trail Blazers extend the game and keep things close.

Still, I don't expect the Rockets to lose focus as they did in Game One and I like them to cover.

Thursday 24th April
Indiana Pacers @ Atlanta Hawks Game Three Pick: The mood around the Indiana Pacers will definitely have changed after the way they fought back and beat the Atlanta Hawks in Game Two to level the series. However, the result had as much to do with the Hawks losing focus and moving away from what had given them such a big lead in that second game and I expect Atlanta to get back to basics.

As good as the defensive shape was from the Pacers in Game Two, the Hawks can be criticised for missing a number of open shots and even Head Coach Mike Budenholzer admitted the Third Quarter could, and perhaps should, have been so different than an 18 point blow out for Indiana.

The Hawks still provide some real match up problems and being back on home court should give them the chance to reclaim the lead in the series. Indiana haven't convinced me that they are back on track just yet and I will take the points for the third time in the series.

Oklahoma City Thunder @ Memphis Grizzlies Game Three Pick: This series is going to be decided by which of the teams make the adjustments and impose their style on the other and it is tough to really predict from game to game which way it will go.

I thought the Thunder had the momentum after really hurting Memphis in Game One, but they lost the edge in the second game and couldn't quite ride their momentum to steal it in overtime.

Oklahoma City have an issue of trying to defend the big men inside the paint, while also being one of the weaker teams defensively from the three point line and that is a problem they have to resolve in Game Three.

That has helped Memphis score plenty of points against the Thunder despite the grind it out style they like playing and games have to be won by scoring close to triple digits. I would be surprised if this game ends in a blow out and I think both teams push each other to the point of going over the total points line set.

LA Clippers @ Golden State Warriors Game Three Pick: The first two games of this series have really been adversely affected by the refereeing which has prevented either team really playing their full rotations in the way they would have liked.

It also means the games have been extended and with two powerful offenses that these teams possess, it is no surprise that there have been a deluge of points in both games.

Game Three should go the same way with both Golden State and the LA Clippers pushing the pace and looking for three pointers and attacking the rim to get to the foul line. If the referees continue playing it as tight as they have in Los Angeles, the game could see huge numbers of free throws too.

I think the Clippers will get their home court advantage back in the next few days, but picking a winner can be tough with the home Arena very much something the Clippers won't have experienced before in Oakland. Their poor record here may also give the Golden State Warriors an edge in Game Three, but I am going to back the game to hit the overs in the total points market, even at the big number.

Friday 25th April
Toronto Raptors @ Brooklyn Nets Game Three Pick: It's Brooklyn's veteran Play Off experience against Toronto's youthful energy in this First Round series, but I think the Nets are perhaps not so pleased with their decision to tank the last couple of games to earn this series.

The first two games have been close with some poor refereeing really being the highlight, but the games have also been incredibly close which makes the 5 point spread look tough to call. I can make a case for either team to cover tonight which means I need to stay clear of that market.

However, the total points looks a little on the low side with both teams capable of getting close to triple digits in terms of points and the potential for overtime incredibly high. The last four games in Brooklyn have seen a similar total surpassed and I will back this game to head over the total points.

Chicago Bulls @ Washington Wizards Game Three Pick: They might be 0-2 down in the series after losing both games in front of their own fans, but I am absolutely convinced that Chicago are not too far away from turning this around and the series is far from over.

Up until yesterday, I was very keen on taking the points with the Bulls, but I do think the layers are being a little tight with the amount of points they are offering and Washington have played well enough to get away if on top form.

Either way, the total points still looks too low and the layers are not accounting for the match up problems that Washington provide both inside the paint and outside the three point line. 4 of their 5 games this season have ended over the total points set, although the exception was in this Arena when the Bulls completely dominated defensively.

That is my biggest concern- if Chicago lock down defensively and this inexperienced Washington team take too many poor shots, but the Wizards have controlled their nerves to this point and I look for enough points to cover the total.

Houston Rockets @ Portland Trail Blazers Game Three Pick: I am surprised as anyone that Portland took both games of this First Round series and I am interested to see if LaMarcus Aldridge is slowed down by the change in venue after his 89 points scored in the first two games.

The Rose Garden is never an easy place for a visiting team, but the fans should be rapid in anticipation of welcoming back their Trail Blazers with a 2-0 lead in the series. It is almost certainly a 'must win' game for the Houston Rockets, but I can't be backing them after they let me down twice already in the series and the spread looks a little low considering how well Portland played in the first two games on the road.

That isn't low enough to tempt me to back the home team to cover though, because Houston are a better team than they have shown.

One element that is unlikely to change is the number of points being scored by the teams and the over has now hit 9 times in a row in the series. Both teams love hitting the three point shot, while they also have players that can dominate inside the paint and attack the rim which leads to fouls and lots of free throws.

It is a big number, but Houston and Portland continue to combine and cover the total points and I will back them to do the same on Friday night.

Saturday 26th April
San Antonio Spurs @ Dallas Mavericks Game Three Pick: The first two games of this series have been surprising considering the domination the San Antonio Spurs have had over the Dallas Mavericks in the last few games between them before the First Round series began.

You have to think Gregg Popovich is going to find some of the adjustments that are clearly needed from the Spurs if they are to reclaim home court advantage, although there is also the factor that Dallas are a better road team than they have been at home.

San Antonio have enjoyed their recent visits to the American Airlines Center with four straight wins and they have covered the spread in every one of those wins. I can't imagine the team with the best record in the NBA this season, as well as the Play Off experience they have, not bouncing back from their poor Game Two.

It won't be easy if Devin Harris continues giving the bench a boost as he has been, but I like San Antonio to take back home court advantage.

Miami Heat @ Charlotte Bobcats Game Three Pick: The series has been more competitive than I thought it was going to be, but the important factor is that the Miami Heat are 2-0 up in the series and Charlotte are now in a desperate state.

Another loss would be curtains for the First Round series, but the Bobcats will still have earned their respect and can move forward with the experiences they have picked up.

The Heat are rested and should be focused in putting this series away as soon as possible, while they have also won 7 in a row in Charlotte. Of those games, the Heat have covered the spread 6 times and I will back them to do the same again.

Sunday 27th April
Chicago Bulls @ Washington Wizards Game Four Pick: This series has provided more scoring than most would have expected, especially the layers who have been burnt by three straight games going over the total. That is simply because of the fouls that both teams are committing as well as the ability to get hot from the three point arc and I do expect this one to go the same way.

However, you have to show concern for the absence of Nene who has been described as the 'x-factor' by John Wall and replicating his numbers will be tough for Washington. They were held to 76 points by the Bulls in the regular season when Nene missed that game, but the Wizards have given this Chicago defense enough to think about to believe they will do better than that this time.

The games have been close too and overtime is another real possibility and I expect the three pointers to help the teams achieve the overs.

LA Clippers @ Golden State Warriors Game Four Pick: Hearing the alleged audio of Donald Sterling's comments disgusted me and I am not sure how the players that he pays are going to be fully focused on this game, no matter how huge it is for their overall goals this season.

Chris Paul has released a statement in his role working for the Player's Union, while the likes of DeAndre Jordan and Blake Griffin have to be angry and hurt, but Doc Rivers is a great Head Coach who will do his best to ready them for Game Four.

They have been the better team in the last two games over the Golden State Warriors, but the latter were beginning to really find something that worked at the end of Game Three and they can take advantage of the distractions in the opposite dressing room. While the Warriors will have players that have been shocked by Sterling's remarks, they don't get paid by that owner and are not going to be perhaps considering whether to stay with their team at the end of the Play Offs.

Golden State also weren't considering boycotting Game Four and I am not sure how the Clippers have prepared for this game with such a huge issue rearing its head just yesterday. The Warriors are also more desperate to tie the series so I am taking the points.

Toronto Raptors @ Brooklyn Nets Game Four Pick: The Brooklyn Nets should have blown out the Raptors in Game Three, but they allowed complacency to set in and it would be a surprise if this group, with the experience they have, allow that to happen again.

That isn't to say the Raptors are going to go away in this one, but they are banged up and struggling to find the adjustments in the series. There are too many turnovers from the Raptors and they are not finding enough sources of scoring for them to get past a tough, grizzled group.

Brooklyn wanted this series and they have been very good at the Barclays Center over the last few months. I will back the Nets to show more focus and come down on the Raptors to put all the pressure on them with a 3-1 lead in the series.

Houston Rockets @ Portland Trail Blazers Game Four Pick: This is a tough series to predict with both teams showing resiliency and character in the first three games- it is also a real surprise that all three games have been won by the road team in an underdog spot which Houston will be desperate to do again.

That is hard to call as both teams can get really hot from the three point line and the small spread indicates the layers are not quite sure how the game will go.

However, the one consistency has been the points being scored by teams that push the pace and don't bleed the shot clock when finding open shooters. The teams have now covered the total points ten times in a row in their series and the games have been so close that even overtime isn't out of the question.

It remains a big number on the total points, but I like the total to be surpassed again.

Monday 28th April
Miami Heat @ Charlotte Bobcats Game Four Pick: There are times that the Miami Heat have been criticised for using the 'off' button in games and try to coast to wins without really focusing, and that has to be the biggest fear for them in this Game Four.

The Heat have had big leads through every game, but Charlotte proved they can make the shots to hang around in Game Two when Miami were a touch too complacent down the stretch and almost allowed the Bobcats to win the game.

However, the chance for rest is too much to ignore and I think Miami come out focused in a bid to rest and then pick the scraps of the winner of the series between Toronto and Brooklyn which has been incredibly tough to this point.

Miami have won plenty of games in Charlotte during their 19 game winning run against them and they generally seem to be able to pull away in those games so I will back them to cover again.

Atlanta Hawks @ Indiana Pacers Game Five Pick: It is hard to really gauge what teams we are going to see on Monday night as both have blown hot and cold so regularly that it is also no surprise that the series is tied.

The Indiana Pacers have home court, but they have struggled against the Atlanta line up and they have to hope the Hawks are not quite with it from the three point arc.

That is where Atlanta will either sink or swim in this series and I expect them to hoist up plenty of shots from the three point arc. The Pacers have also struggled with a consistent offense so a hot Atlanta team has every chance of making it 3-2 in the First Round series and a chance to wrap things up at home later this week.

However, it is hard to back Atlanta to win this game outright, although the points look too many to be giving up and I will take them into this Game Five.

Tuesday 29th April
Washington Wizards @ Chicago Bulls Game Five Pick: This is a fascinating Game Five as it could be very interesting how Washington react if they are unable to close the show on Tuesday evening. As well as the Wizards have played, they are a young team that may feel a little anxious to close the series and that would only get more and more of an issue if Chicago can force a Game Six and then Game Seven.

My problem is that I can't see this Bulls team turning around a series in which they have been surprisingly bullied from the off by Washington. The return of Nene gives the Wizards another offensive threat and the 'pick your poison' choice of defending the front or back court isn't working out well for Chicago.

Offensively, the Bulls haven't got the consistent threat a Derrick Rose or even Luol Deng would have provided in the Play Offs and defensively they have struggled.

I am expecting the Wizards to close the show on Tuesday, but I hate under-estimating a Chicago team that have hung tough for two seasons without Rose who is easily the best player on their roster. Points shouldn't be a problem in a series that has seen 7 of the last 8 games go over the totals set by the layers, including all 4 in the Play Offs.

Golden State Warriors @ LA Clippers Game Five Pick: The big question heading into Game Five is whether the Game Four domination from the Golden State Warriors was down to legitimate reasons or whether the LA Clippers are mentally addled by all the furore surrounding their team.

Donald Sterling's alleged comments have stirred up huge controversy and there could be a very interesting press conference held by the NBA Commissioner which has been scheduled for this afternoon. Whether that inspires or infuriates the LA Clippers players is yet to be seen.

The home advantage may not be a great one for the Clippers with many fans unhappy and sponsors are pulling out of the team left, right and centre and this isn't the best atmosphere to try and focus on a huge Game Five just two days after being blown out in Oakland.

That all makes the points the Warriors are getting look too much in this game and I have a feeling they keep this close at the very least as the Clippers may not be completely focused on on-court activities.

Wednesday 30th April
Portland Trail Blazers @ Houston Rockets Game Five Pick: The first four games of the series have been high-scoring although I am surprised to see the Portland Trail Blazers on the brink of moving through to the Western Conference Semi Finals.

Overtime has been a feature of games between the teams as well as the vast amount of points being scored and I can't ignore the statistics that show the over being hit 10 times in a row. Both teams can get going from the three point line and both have players that can get hot and I will take the overs again in the series.

Thursday 1st May
Indiana Pacers @ Atlanta Hawks Game Six Pick: Both teams have struggled to win back to back games in the series, but all the momentum is back with the Atlanta Hawks thanks to their Game Five win in the series. Now they have home court advantage for one game knowing they need to win just one more to move through to the Eastern Conference Semi Finals against the Washington Wizards.

The three point shooting has either been boom or bust for the Hawks and you know that this game is going to come down to whether they are on or off with that shot. Indiana have shown very little resolve in trying to figure out how to prevent the Hawks imposing their game and this simply comes down to whether Atlanta hit or miss.

Going cold is my biggest concern for the Atlanta and the fact that I like this game to go over the total points as that has been the main reason that a couple of the games haven't hit the mark set. If they are shooting as they were a couple of nights ago, the mark should be surpassed again.

Oklahoma City Thunder @ Memphis Grizzlies Game Six Pick: Overtime has been the main feature of the last four games, although the Oklahoma City Thunder will be scratching their heads as to how they have had all the momentum going into those extra periods but finished on the losing side three times.

The Thunder just haven't found the consistent offense they would have been hoping for against a grind it out Memphis team that have imposed themselves for large stretches of the games to this point.

Even with the slower style employed by the Grizzlies, the games have seen three of the last four surpass the total points set and the chance of overtime is clearly very high in this series.

LA Clippers @ Golden State Warriors Game Six Pick: All but one of the first five games of the series has seen plenty of points scored by teams that push the pace and will attack the rim. That will lead to fouls and extend the game, while both teams are also very capable of hitting from beyond the three point perimeter so picking over the total points looks the call in Game Six.

I have a feeling this is one of the series that is going to go the distance with Golden State being very strong in their own Arena and I can see them finding more consistency from Stephen Curry to get the win when it is all said and done.

However, the layers are finding it hard to split the teams so backing the total points to be surpassed looks the more reasonable call.

Friday 2nd May
Toronto Raptors @ Brooklyn Nets Game Six Pick: The Brooklyn Nets came all the way back from a 26 point deficit in Game Five to tie the game, but they once again failed to close the show against a Toronto team that looked down and out. In Game Four, the Nets looked like they had taken all of the shots that the Raptors took, but they struggled offensively down the stretch and have now lost two in a row in the series.

With the Raptors on the brink of moving through, I think it is going to take a huge effort from Brooklyn to force a Game Seven and this has all the makings of another close game between the teams.

Both have had runs through the games to make most of them competitive and it says a lot that the largest margin of victory either team has managed in the last seven games is eight points and that makes the points being given to the Raptors look too large to ignore.

San Antonio Spurs @ Dallas Mavericks Game Six Pick: Dallas have held surprisingly tough in the series considering the way San Antonio dominated them prior to these Play Offs beginning and every game in this First Round series has been closely contested.

The feeling is that San Antonio have found a groove in the last two games and that momentum may be hard for Dallas to take back despite their ability on the offensive side of the court. Unfortunately for them, they haven't been able to play enough strong defense to win either of the last two games and the series may just have slipped from their grasp.

Gregg Popovich will have his veterans ready for one more big effort to find their way through and not have to go through the 2006 talk that has begun to manifest ahead of this game. Ending the series in Dallas looks a decent chance for the Spurs on Friday night.

Houston Rockets @ Portland Trail Blazers Game Six Pick: This has been a close series from the very first game with overtimes separating the teams and there hasn't been a lot to separate them even in the games won and lost.

That has helped the confidence in both camps that they can either close the show or extend the series depending on which locker room you happen to be sitting in.

It has been a surprise to see the Portland Trail Blazers getting the better of the Houston Rockets to this point and I can really see the winner being the one that is the most clinical in the final two minutes of the game. It would be more than a surprise if the game is a blow out but the Rockets seem to be getting too many points, especially as they found some of the right adjustments in Game Five.

If someone suggested that there is going to be at least one more Game Seven this weekend, I believe I would pick this series out of the three Game Six being played tonight as being the one that goes the distance.

Saturday 3rd May
Memphis Grizzlies @ Oklahoma City Thunder Game Seven Pick: It does look a lot of points to be giving up for the Oklahoma City Thunder considering we have reached Game Seven, but it is hard to ignore the hardship that the Memphis Grizzlies have to overcome.

Zach Randolph is suspended and both Mike Conley and Tony Allen could be limited, while the Thunder found a groove in Game Six that may make their momentum very hard to slow down back at home.

Golden State Warriors @ LA Clippers Game Seven Pick: As bad as both teams were from the field, they continued to get enough attacking play to the rim to cause fouls and extend the last game and I can see that happening again in a vital Game Seven.

I would expect a big improvement when it comes to shooting from the field too and both teams should crack triple digits and lead to a high-scoring, but tense, final game in this First Round series.

MY PICKS: 19/04 Toronto Raptors - 3 Points @ 1.92 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
19/04 LA Clippers - 7 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
19/04 Atlanta Hawks + 7.5 Points @ 2.00 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
19/04 Oklahoma City Thunder - 7.5 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
20/04 San Antonio Spurs - 9.5 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
20/04 Miami Heat - 9.5 Points @ 1.92 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
20/04 Washington Wizards + 4.5 Points @ 1.92 Coral (1 Unit)
20/04 Houston Rockets - 5.5 Points @ 1.92 Bet Victor (1 Unit)
21/04 Oklahoma City Thunder - 7 Points @ 1.92 Coral (1 Unit)
21/04 LA Clippers - 8 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
22/04 Atlanta Hawks + 7.5 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
22/04 Toronto Raptors - 4.5 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
22/04 Chicago Bulls-Washington Wizards Over 181.5 Total Points @ 1.95 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
23/04 Miami Heat - 10.5 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
23/04 San Antonio Spurs - 8 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
23/04 Houston Rockets - 6 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
24/04 Atlanta Hawks + 2.5 Points @ 1.92 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
24/04 Memphis Grizzlies-Oklahoma City Thunder Over 190 Total Points @ 2.00 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
24/04 Golden State Warriors-LA Clippers Over 214.5 Total Points @ 2.00 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
25/04 Brooklyn Nets-Toronto Raptors Over 190.5 Total Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
25/04 Washington Wizards-Chicago Bulls Over 182.5 Total Points @ 1.92 Bet Victor (1 Unit)
25/04 Portland Trail Blazers-Houston Rockets Over 215.5 Total Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
26/04 San Antonio Spurs - 3.5 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
26/04 Miami Heat - 5 Points @ 2.00 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
27/04 Washington Wizards-Chicago Bulls Over 183.5 Total Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
27/04 Golden State Warriors + 2 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
27/04 Brooklyn Nets - 4 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
27/04 Portland Trail Blazers-Houston Rockets Over 214 Total Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
28/04 Miami Heat - 7.5 Points @ 2.00 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
28/04 Atlanta Hawks + 7 Points @ 1.92 Coral (1 Unit)
29/04 Chicago Bulls-Washington Wizards Over 183.5 Total Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
29/04 Golden State Warriors + 6 Points @ 2.00 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
30/04 Houston Rockets-Portland Trail Blazers Over 214 Total Points @ 1.92 Bet Victor (1 Unit)
01/05 Atlanta Hawks-Indiana Pacers Over 186.5 Total Points @ 1.92 Bet Victor (1 Unit)
01/05 Memphis Grizzlies-Oklahoma City Thunder Over 184 Total Points @ 1.92 Coral (1 Unit)
01/05 Golden State Warriors-LA Clippers Over 209.5 Total Points @ 1.92 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
02/05 Toronto Raptors + 5 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
02/05 San Antonio Spurs - 3 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
02/05 Houston Rockets + 4 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
03/05 Oklahoma City Thunder - 9.5 Points @ 2.00 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
03/05 LA Clippers-Golden State Warriors Over 206.5 Total Points @ 1.92 Bet Victor (1 Unit)

First Round Update: 22-19, + 2.02 Units

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