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Monday, 5 May 2014

NBA Conference Semi Final Play Off Picks 2014

The First Round of the NBA Play Offs were about as good as any I have seen before with a lot of the series being closely contested, especially in the Western Conference where we needed three series to be completed with a Game Seven and the other lasted until Game Six.

If those First Round series are any indication, this could be one of the greatest NBA Play Offs we have seen in a long time, even if the nasty taste of the Donald Sterling affair has yet to truly be erased from the mouth.


It was also a tough First Round when it came to picking winners from the games as so many were closely contested and became especially tough when considering how many road teams managed to win games. I was still fortunate to come out the other side with a winning record from the last three weeks, but it was tough going at times and a couple of poor runs ruined big returns.

The Conference Semi Finals certainly feel like they can produce plenty of drama as the NBA Play Offs continue through the month, but they should be fascinating viewing all the same.


Monday 5th May
Washington Wizards @ Indiana Pacers Game One Pick: The first game of the series in this Eastern Conference Semi Finals has a few issues to resolve which makes it hard for me to a pick a winner between the teams. The Indiana Pacers have been so inconsistent that I can't figure which team we will see in the series let alone on a game by game basis, although the Washington Wizards will present a challenge that they can deal with in a better manner than the spread five Atlanta offense.

Indiana have a dominant home record against the Wizards which could be key in the series, but the first game might not be straight-forward for them.

The Wizards showed they can score against a tough defense in the First Round against the Chicago Bulls and I think the total points may be on the low side despite the way their regular season series played out.


LA Clippers @ Oklahoma City Thunder Game One Pick: The big question in this series is how much mental and physical energy the LA Clippers have exerted in beating the Golden State Warriors in the First Round, especially with the Donald Sterling issue overshadowing all they have done.

On the other hand, the Oklahoma City Thunder put together a couple of dominating performances to beat the Memphis Grizzlies and have the chance to host Game One of the series. It won't be easy for the Thunder with the style that both of these teams run on offense, but I do believe they can win Game One of the series and move into the lead.

The spread is dangerous as the Clippers can erase leads very quickly with their shooting ability, but I like the Thunder to cover.


Tuesday 6th May
Brooklyn Nets @ Miami Heat Game One Pick: Much like the Indiana Pacers game against the Washington Wizards, the question about rest versus rhythm will be answered in this Game One between Brooklyn and Miami.

The teams are very familiar with one another in terms of the personnel that will take to the court and the Brooklyn sweep of the regular season series shows they won't be intimidated by the Heat.

However, I think the well-rested Miami team may be able to take advantage of a veteran group that had to come through a real battle just two days ago, although the rest of the series looks like it could be very well contested.


Portland Trail Blazers @ San Antonio Spurs Game One Pick: This has all the hallmarks of a six/seven game series and home court could potentially be the key for San Antonio at the end of the day.

Both teams are capable of going on long periods of hitting their shots and I think Portland can't be under-estimated with their ability to suddenly get hot from outside the three point perimeter.

However, I think the Spurs were in a very good rhythm in their win over Dallas in Game Seven on Sunday and I expect them to ride that to a one game lead in this series.


Wednesday 7th May
Washington Wizards @ Indiana Pacers Game Two Pick: Game One of the series may have surprised the layers with how free-scoring it was, but I still believe they have got the total points on the low side for Game Two. Indiana have just not played with the defensive structure they showed in the regular season and Washington have the capabilities of hurting them from beyond the three point perimeter or from deep inside the paint.

The Pacers showed something offensively late in the Fourth Quarter, but they have to find a way to replicate that for 48 minutes if they are to avoid going into a devastating 0-2 hole in the Conference Semi Final series.

Indiana have surpassed 90 points in their last five games as they try to make up for some of their defensive issues, and Washington are capable of scoring big points against the Pacers as they showed in Game One.


LA Clippers @ Oklahoma City Thunder Game Two Pick: The first game of this series was a real surprise to me as I really believed the Clippers may just have a hard time coming off an emotional series as they had in the First Round. I perhaps should have considered how tough Memphis had made life for Oklahoma City, but I did think the more open game would have suited them better than it did.

Los Angeles were very impressive from the field in Game One and that will be tough to produce for a second time in a row on the road, although I still believe they will score plenty of points against a Thunder defense that struggles to protect the three point perimeter.

Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook will be expecting to have a bigger impact in this game too and I believe the total points could be surpassed for the second time in the series.


Thursday 8th May
Brooklyn Nets @ Miami Heat Game Two Pick: The Brooklyn Nets have to play much better defensively if they are going to come away from Miami with a share of the first two games and give themselves a real chance to cause a surprise Semi Final series win.

Returning home in a 0-2 hole would be very tough to recover from for Brooklyn so they will be in desperation mode in this Game Two. They have to perform better on both ends of the court really as the Miami Heat to play with far more energy in the Play Offs.

It would be a real surprise if this second game is a blowout like the first, but it may just sneak over the total points line too.


Portland Trail Blazers @ San Antonio Spurs Game Two Pick: The San Antonio Spurs came out with real positive intentions in Game One and I think they are going to be too good for the Portland Trail Blazers again in Game Two.

However, this won't be a blowout as I don't foresee Portland being as poor from the field as they were in Game One, particularly from outside the perimeter.

The problem for Portland is that they struggle to contain San Antonio outside the three point arc and also inside the paint and I would expect the Spurs to find a way to win this Game Two and also cover the spread.


Friday 9th May
Indiana Pacers @ Washington Wizards Game Three Pick: Both teams struggled offensively in the second half of Game Two which prevented the overs hitting, but I am going back to the well for a third time in this series.

Washington are expected to be better from the field, particularly from the three point range and I expect them to push the pace a little more to try and keep the Pacers from setting up their Defense.

There was also a better feeling that Indiana had got Roy Hibbert back on track and that could lead to more open shots from the perimeter as the Wizards try and control the paint area. Indiana can't always be trusted to hit those shots, but they might be playing catch up at times and the points should be surpassed.


Oklahoma City Thunder @ LA Clippers Game Three Pick: If it wasn't for the Thunder going cold in the final few minutes of Game Two, that game would have flown over the total points mark which has seen the same total set for Game Three. The over is 10-4 in the last 14 games between these two teams and they play with such a pace that there are a lot of possessions run through both ways.

Both teams are also capable of getting hot from the three point perimeter and their ability to attack the rim can lead to heading to the free throw line and foul trouble.

The spread is tough to call, but I think the overs has to be worth backing again after surpassing it in Game One and only just failing in Game Two.


Saturday 10th May
Miami Heat @ Brooklyn Nets Game Three Pick: With all the veterans and proud members in the Brooklyn roster, it is hard to imagine them losing all four games without really giving Miami something to think about, but it is also difficult to see how they can turnaround this series completely.

Brooklyn have to get 'A' performances out of every one of their starters if they are going to find a win in Game Three which is all important to give the Nets some sort of a chance in this series.

The Heat are preparing for a vociferous crowd that could get the Nets going, but Miami have found a groove and are proving their regular season sweep from Brooklyn was not an indication of a changing of the guard. This will be another close game, but I believe the Heat make the big plays when needed to make it 3-0 and also put one foot back into the Eastern Conference Finals for what could be the fourth year in a row.


San Antonio Spurs @ Portland Trail Blazers Game Three Pick: There is little doubt in my mind that this will be a closer game than the first two in the series, but I think it might be too much for Portland to make the necessary adjustments to win the game.

They have been hit hard in the first half of games against the San Antonio Spurs, while Portland are also struggling to prevent the Spurs scoring plenty of points and that doesn't bode well for them in their bid to extend the series.

San Antonio have won 4 in a row in the series and I think they have the right groove and game plan to move one step closer to returning to the Western Conference Finals.


Sunday 11th May
Oklahoma City Thunder @ LA Clippers Game Four Pick: The Oklahoma City Thunder and the LA Clippers have continued to combine for plenty of points in the first three games of this series and I don't think this is the time to get off the total points bandwagon.

Both teams love attacking the rim and have a number of three point shooters that can hit from the perimeter, while neither team wants to slow down the pace when they have the ball in their hands. The added foul issues that come with shooters who can get to the rim means the games have been extended and I will back the teams to combine for enough points to surpass the total points set.


Indiana Pacers @ Washington Wizards Game Four Pick: The Indiana Pacers seem to have found their rhythm at both ends of the court and I think they are being given too many points in this Game Four, especially if Washington continue struggling from the field as they have been over the last 55 minutes of this series.

It was the inconsistency of the Wizards that I felt was going to be tough to overcome in a best of seven series against Indiana and they have struggled twice in a row. I doubt they do that again, but this has the makings of another close game.

With a 4.5 point head start, I will back the Pacers to at least keep this competitive through the game.


Monday 12th May
Miami Heat @ Brooklyn Nets Game Four Pick: It was the three point shooting that made all the difference in Game Three and it will be interesting to see if Brooklyn can replicate that percentage from the field and also keep up the defensive assignments that made life so difficult for Miami in the final three quarters.

I expect Miami to make better adjustments to the three point perimeter than they did in Game Three and I still believe the Heat are the better team. You can't under-estimate Miami's ability to make the necessary changes as they showed in the Play Offs last season when they avoided back to back losses and I think Miami will get themselves into a commanding position in the series.

This should be another closely contested and chippy game between two teams that don't have a lot of love lost for one another, but I expect Miami to bounce back and cover the spread.


San Antonio Spurs @ Portland Trail Blazers Game Four Pick: With the way San Antonio have come out in this series, it would take a brave man to go against them completing the sweep in Game Four.

Portland have not got the same rotation depth as the Spurs and their players have begun to look a little tired with these games coming every other day and they have struggled to make the necessary adjustments to slow down the Spurs.

They have come out on fire in the first half and another showing from San Antonio in the manner of the first three games will deflate the building and perhaps the players in the Trail Blazers huddle. If that happens, I would expect the Spurs not to let go of their advantage and complete the sweep and a place in the Western Conference Finals again.


Tuesday 13th May
Washington Wizards @ Indiana Pacers Game Five Pick: A 3-1 lead in the series gives Indiana a commanding position in the Conference Semi Final, but more importantly is the momentum they have from winning three games in a row in the series and the close out game could be Tuesday night.

Indiana have found something offensively, but they have also put Washington under pressure for long periods in the last three games and have shut down the shooting the Wizards brought into Game One.

The Wizards are a young team too so I am interested in how their veterans can pick up the inexperienced players from the devastating loss in Game Four where they blew a huge lead. It was the Fourth Quarter that let the Wizards down again and I do believe Indiana close the show on Tuesday.

However, the fouls that both teams have committed and the chance of Washington getting off to a decent offensive start makes the total points look a little low in this Game Five and I will back the over.


LA Clippers @ Oklahoma City Thunder Game Five Pick: It was a terrible start from the LA Clippers that put them in a big hole in Game Four, but any thoughts that this team is mentally exhausted from the Donald Sterling fiasco was put to rest as they clawed back the Oklahoma City Thunder and eventually overtook them with a minute left to play.

I would be surprised if the three point shooting of the Clippers is as poor as it was in Game Four and I also believe both teams are still getting involved in too many fouls that is keeping the game extended.

That should give this game the chance to follow the trend of the series, for the most part, and lead to enough points to cover this total points mark.


Wednesday 14th May
Brooklyn Nets @ Miami Heat Game Five Pick: Three of the four games in this series have reached the over total points and I am going to back Game Five to do the same as both teams have attacked the rim and gotten into foul trouble early in quarters.

I do think Miami are more likely to also win the game and cover the spread, but Brooklyn's three point shooting has been firing in the last couple of games and they could be dangerous in this one. The Nets have also been much more competitive since Game One and I can't imagine a team with all this experience going down quietly.


Portland Trail Blazers @ San Antonio Spurs Game Five Pick: The San Antonio Spurs feel they didn't come out with the right mentality in Game Four and that was never going to help them close the series against a desperate Portland Trail Blazers team playing in front of their own crowd.

Now it is the chance for the Spurs to use their own crowd to close the show and I expect they would have been focusing on this game as soon as Game Four was out of hand. San Antonio have the experience to know they have to play better than they did on Monday and I would expect them to do that.

With the way the games have all gone, if San Antonio make the fast start, I would expect them to go and cover the spread.


Thursday 15th May
Indiana Pacers @ Washington Wizards Game Six Pick: This series has been very unpredictable at times and just when you think you have a handle on it, something like Game Five occurs and you are left scratching your head.

The one positive Indiana fans can take into Game Six is that their team has rebounded from bad performances through the Play Offs and are yet to lose back to back games. They are also up against a Washington team that has struggled down the stretch of close games and who have particularly found it hard to find their groove at home.

So far, the series has seen the dog cover in all five games played and I think the Pacers are the team to back, with the points, to make this much more competitive than Game Five, if not win outright.


Oklahoma City Thunder @ LA Clippers Game Six Pick: All five games in the series have been very closely contested and the fact that both teams have now blown big leads down the stretch means I expect both to play that much more attacking basketball.

The last two games have failed to reach the total points because of some poor stretches of play, but both are still getting to the foul line with regularity to think that this game will come close to surpassing the total points.

It was the Clippers who decided to 'milk the clock' in Game Five that prevented the game hitting the total, but the collapses late in games suggests that both Coaches will ask their team to keep the momentum if they have it. The series has been so close that an overtime game is also possible with the last two games coming close to that occurring and I will play the total one more time.

MY PICKS: 05/05 Indiana Pacers-Washington Wizards Over 183.5 Total Points @ 2.00 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
05/05 Oklahoma City Thunder - 5.5 Points @ 2.00 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
06/05 Miami Heat - 7 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
06/05 San Antonio Spurs - 6.5 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
07/05 Indiana Pacers-Washington Wizards Over 184.5 Total Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
07/05 Oklahoma City Thunder-LA Clippers Over 214.5 Total Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
08/05 Miami Heat-Brooklyn Nets Over 192 Total Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
08/05 San Antonio Spurs - 6.5 Points @ 1.92 Bet Victor (1 Unit)
09/05 Washington Wizards-Indiana Pacers Over 184 Total Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
09/05 LA Clippers-Oklahoma City Thunder Over 214.5 Total Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
10/05 Miami Heat - 1.5 Points @ 2.00 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
10/05 San Antonio Spurs - 1 Point @ 2.05 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
11/05 LA Clippers-Oklahoma City Thunder Over 214.5 Total Points @ 1.92 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
11/05 Indiana Pacers + 4.5 Points @ 1.92 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
12/05 Miami Heat - 2.5 Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
12/05 San Antonio Spurs - 3.5 Points @ 1.92 Ladbrokes (1 Unit)
13/05 Indiana Pacers-Washington Wizards Over 180.5 Total Points @ 1.92 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
13/05 Oklahoma City Thunder-LA Clippers Over 212.5 Total Points @ 2.00 Pinnacle (1 Unit)
14/05 Miami Heat-Brooklyn Nets Over 188.5 Total Points @ 1.92 Coral (1 Unit)
14/05 San Antonio Spurs - 7.5 Points @ 1.92 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
15/05 Indiana Pacers + 4.5 Points @ 1.92 Paddy Power (1 Unit)
15/05 LA Clippers-Oklahoma City Thunder Over 212.5 Total Points @ 1.95 Pinnacle (1 Unit)

Conference Semi Finals Update: 12-10, + 1.36 Units

First Round Final22-19, + 2.02 Units

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