Jason’s record on his early NBA picks for 2013-14, up to April 25 inclusive:
Did Nene just cost the Washington Wizards millions of dollars? He was killing the Chicago Bulls in their first-round NBA playoff series, but then he got tossed from Game 3 early in the fourth quarter after going tête-à-tête with Chicago’s Jimmy Butler. The Bulls wound up winning 100-97 as 2.5-point road faves, and they’ll be stoked for Sunday’s Game 4 after Nene (16.6 PER) was handed a one-game suspension for his conduct.
By the way, all three underdogs cashed in on Friday to improve to 14-10 SU and 19-4-1 ATS in this wacky, wild postseason. I started betting the dogs blind on Saturday, and I’m going to keep doing it until something changes out there in the NBA betting marketplace. Or until the Finals are over. Let’s hope it’s the latter.
Clippers vs. Golden State (3:30 p.m. ET, ABC)
Sometimes you catch a break with the early NBA lines. Thursday was not one of those days; I picked the Warriors as 1.5-point dogs in Game 3, the spread moved to +3 at closing time, and the Clippers (59-26 SU, 47-37-1 ATS) won 98-96. M’eh. My only concern here is that the game was basically a coinflip. Where’s the edge?
It might be in the form of Clippers owner Donald Sterling. There’s a TMZ audio recording out there on the Interwebs that might be Sterling saying racist things – everyone seems to believe it is, including the Clippers players, who briefly considered boycotting Game 4. I suppose this could motivate them to play harder on Sunday. I’m betting on it being more of a distraction.
NBA Pick: Take the Warriors +3.5 (–103) at Island Casino
Toronto vs. Brooklyn (7:00 p.m. ET, TNT)
Speaking of nailbiters, the Raptors (49-36 SU, 47-34-4 ATS) stormed back from a 15-point deficit in the fourth quarter of their Game 3, but came up short in a 102-98 loss to the Nets (46-39 SU, 43-41-1 ATS). Not a problem; Toronto was a 5-point road dog in that one. We’ve seen a lot of these unlikely matador covers in the first round – and from the Raptors in general.
By the way: another 17 Toronto turnovers in Game 3. Not good. The Nets have been going old-school Brooklyn on the Raptors in this series, playing with a lot more energy and sandpaper than we’re seeing from the skinny latte/skinny jeans crowd at their home games. The Raps just might lose this series SU while winning it ATS. At least they finally made it onto the big TNT stage – because ABC would rather make the California teams play at lunchtime on the West Coast.
NBA Pick: Take the Raptors +4 (–105) at Sportbet
Houston vs. Portland (9:30 p.m. ET, TNT)
Maybe later on in my career, I’ll start coaching in the NBA. The Rockets (55-30 SU, 41-42-2 ATS) took my sage advice and started Omer Asik (14.0 PER) at power forward in Game 3, and he ended up leading Houston at plus-13 in a 121-116 overtime win over the Trail Blazers (56-29 SU, 46-39 ATS). Portland was a 2.5-point chalk at home; each of the first three games in this series has gone to the road dog.
So why stop now? Well, there’s the fact that the OVER is 3-0 in this series and 10-0 in their past 10 games overall. Except Game 3 would have gone UNDER 214.5 without that overtime frame. And Game 1 would have gone UNDER 215.5 except for the same thing. Maybe I’ll just take the Rockets; Asik helped limit LaMarcus Aldridge (21.8 PER) to 23 points on 8-of-22 shooting in Game 3, so that’s encouraging. Asik’s a freak. Freak out.
NBA Pick: Take the Rockets +2.5 (–104) at Marathon