Jason’s record on his early NBA picks for 2013-14, up to April 20 inclusive:
Somewhere between Game I and Game 2, the NBA lost three head coaches. On Easter Monday, Rick Adelman retired from his post with the Minnesota Timberwolves, the New York Knicks fired Mike Woodson, and the Utah Jazz wished Tyrone Corbin the best of luck in his future endeavors. Most of the media’s attention has been on the Knicks, but let’s take a moment to give Adelman his due: 1,042 career wins over 23 years as a head coach, and two trips to the NBA Finals with the Portland Trail Blazers in 1990 and 1992. Next stop: the Hall of Fame.
Atlanta vs. Indiana (7:00 p.m. ET, TNT)
The Pacers (56-26 SU, 38-43-1 ATS during the regular season) have made betting on the NBA an absolute joy this year. They were red-hot to start the season, and they’ve been absolutely brutal since late January. That slump continued on Saturday when Indiana coughed up Game 1, losing 101-93 as an 8-point home chalk. The Hawks (38-44 SU, 38-43-1 ATS) won every aspect of that game except for rebounding. They also set a team playoff record with 30 3-point attempts, sinking 11.
Tuesday’s NBA odds board has Indiana laying seven points with a total of 187. I can’t in good conscience recommend a Pacers team that’s 5-22 ATS since Feb. 25. The Hawks limped into the No. 8 spot in the East, but they’ve got Pero Antic (11.7 PER) available to play center, and he and Elton Brand (14.0 PER) are giving the gears to Indiana’s frontline offense. Such as it is.
NBA Pick: Take the Hawks +6.5 (+108) at SBOBET
Brooklyn vs. Toronto (7:30 p.m. ET, NBA-TV)
Naturally, the Raptors (48-34 SU, 46-33-3 ATS) are getting the NBA-TV treatment this Tuesday. You’d think that they played in a foreign country or something. We’ve made a lot of money off Toronto this year, but Saturday’s Game 1 didn’t go according to plan, as the Nets (44-38 SU, 42-40 ATS) found a way to win 94-87 as 3.5-point road dogs. The Raptors gave the game away with 17 turnovers to Brooklyn’s eight.
The narrative with this series is all about the veteran Nets putting the young Raptors in their place. I’m not buying it. There’s something to be said for playoff poise, but I think this is one of those things that gets way too much emphasis. I’ll gladly take Toronto again as a 4-point favorite; these spreads tell us the NBA betting market values both teams roughly the same, which is both silly and entirely predictable.
NBA Pick: Take the Raptors –4 at Youwager
Washington vs. Chicago (9:30 p.m. ET, TNT)
In arguably the most surprising of the Game 1 upsets, the Wizards (44-38 SU, 43-38-1 ATS) enjoyed a 30-point fourth quarter en route to a 102-93 victory over the Bulls (48-34 SU, 41-40-1 ATS), who were laying 4.5 points at home with a tiny total of 178.5. That total’s up to 181.5 points for Game 2; Chicago is favored by five points this time, and our consensus reports as we go to press show 57 percent support for the Bulls.
I’m going to have to stick with the contrarian theme and keep pounding the Wiz. They’re at close to full capacity with the return of Nene (16.6 PER), who led all scorers on Sunday with 24 points on 11-of-17 shooting. And full capacity looked really good with Andre Miller (13.9 PER) coming off the bench and dumping 10 points on Chicago in just 14 minutes. Maybe this is when the Bulls finally run out of gas after a long season. As the song goes, only time will tell.
NBA Pick: Take the Wizards +5 (+102) at Matchbook