NBA Playoff Picks of the Day: Play these Over/Under Locks & Ace Friday's Betting Ticket

Matthew Jordan

Thursday, May 7, 2015 6:19 PM UTC

Thursday, May. 7, 2015 6:19 PM UTC

Both Game 2s between Chicago and Cleveland and the L.A. Clippers and Houston went 'over' their totals on Wednesday despite the Cavs and Clips each missing a key player again. What can you expect Friday? Here are my total picks with odds from Pinnacle.

Cavaliers vs. Bulls (196 points)
This was set at 194.5 in Game 2 and the Cavs won 106-91, a 14-point increase for Cleveland from Game 1. Yes, LeBron James was much more aggressive and had 33 points. But the key apparently was the decision by Coach David Blatt -- yes, he actually does make good decisions at times -- to insert power forward/center Tristan Thompson into the starting lineup in place the injured Kevin Love. In Game 1, Blatt went with Mike Miller in that spot in hopes that smaller lineup would space out the Bulls better. Miller was terrible and Cleveland never led. Thompson made a significant difference in Game 2. Sure, he only had five points but also 12 rebounds and was plus-20. Thompson had six offensive rebounds, more than Bulls bigs Joakim Noah and Pau Gasol combined. The Cavs also changed up how they guarded those Derrick Rose/Gasol pick-and-roll plays that killed Cleveland in Game 1. After a huge opener, Gasol had just 11 points and four rebounds as Cleveland played him more aggressively with the athletic Thompson on him instead of lumbering Timofey Mozgov. Miller only played 13 minutes off the bench this time and didn't score so there's no doubt Thompson stays in the starting five. Whether shooting guard Iman Shumpert does with the return off suspension from J.R. Smith is another matter.

Now it's time for Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau to make his adjustments. He's not going to change his starting five of Derrick Rose, Jimmy Butler, Mike Dunleavy, Gasol and Noah, which is important to keep in mind when looking at the NBA odds. But I think you see more of rookie Nikola Mirotic, who played seven total minutes in the first two games. This guy was one of the best players in the Eastern Conference in March yet now can't even play? I would give more minutes to Mirotic as he can pull Thompson, Mozgov or LeBron, whomever guards him, out of the paint. Plus Noah is an offensive liability at this point. He has four total points in the two games and is an incredible 1-for-14 from the free-throw line in the playoffs. Noah is a gutsy player and still a good rebounder -- although Chicago was outrebounded in Game 2 -- but his body is simply breaking down. Also expect Rose to drive more  often. Somehow he hasn't gotten to the free-throw line yet. Thibodeau already has been making that point clear to anyone who listens. The Bulls should get more calls back at home.

NBA Free Pick: 'Under' is your NBA pick. It is 6-1 in Chicago's past seven after a loss and 6-2 in Cleveland's past eight when scoring 100 points or more in its previous game.

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Rockets vs. Clippers (217)
This was set at 214.5 at sportsbooks for Game 2 and Houston won 115-109, rallying from a 13-point second-half deficit. Now, the simple thinking might be that this total is listed a few points higher because the books expect Clippers point guard Chris Paul to return from injury. I expect that as well and he's obviously a giant upgrade over Austin Rivers, who had 10 points in 25 minutes in Game 2. And sending Rivers to the bench helps that weak L.A. reserve corps a bit. Other than Jamal Crawford, it's just a terrible group and Crawford was only 6-for-22 from the field in Game 2.

What I'm most curious to see here is if the referees give the Clippers a "makeup" game. You have heard of "makeup" calls during a game, but L.A. might deserve an entire game after Houston went to the line an absurd 64 times in Game 2. The Rockets shot just 65.6 percent from the line but still outscored L.A. there 42-25. That's your game right there. Expect L.A. to get more attempts than Houston in Game 3 back at home. Coach Doc Rivers already has started his working of the refs, although Rivers is the one  who has his players intentionally fouling Dwight Howard at times. Every Clippers starter had at least four fouls and Matt Barnes fouled out. Houston might have found a way to slow red-hot Blake Griffin as well. He had 26 first-points on Wednesday but only eight after intermission. With Howard and Trevor Ariza guarding him for the most part, Griffin was just 2-for-9 in the third and fourth quarters. The Rockets also killed the Clippers on the boards and Paul won't fix that.

NBA Free Pick: 'Over.' It is 5-1 in Houston's past six after a win. It is 4-1 in the Clippers' past five after scoring 100 points or more in their previous game.

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