Miami Heat vs Milwaukee Bucks
Line: Milwaukee -5.5
Pick: Bucks -5.5
Much like the Toronto Raptors yesterday, there’s a strong case to be made that the mighty Milwaukee Bucks season is on the line tonight in Orlando. Teams have a 93.6% chance of winning a series when they go up two games to none in the NBA playoffs.
To say tonight’s game is rather important would be an understatement to say the least.
All season long, questions about this Bucks team have centred on two related issues. Firstly, do they have the mental fortitude to overcome adversity that they didn’t have last year and also, do they have someone who will step up in the fourth quarter of a close playoff game.
Well, the Bucks finally played a close playoff game on Monday and those questions were bolded by their critics after a startling fourth quarter failure against Jimmy G Buckets and the Miami Heat. Butler toyed with Khris Middleton down the stretch of that game like a dominant with a submissive (you know where).
If the Bucks are going to win tonight, they need a four quarter effort from Middleton. The same can be said for soon to be named back-to-back MVP Giannis who faded down the stretch in all the eerily similar ways to 2019’s Eastern Conference Finals.
The thing is, as bad as it all was (and it was really bad), I honestly believe this team needed this push to find their true playoff self. Dating back to last season, they have only won two of their 14 wins playoff games by less than ten points.
That’s not how you win a title and if they’re going to do so, that has to change.
For those of us gambling this game, that number provides a window on why to take Milwaukee. When they win, THEY WIN so 5.5 points should be easy.
This Bucks team lost game one of their second round series last year as well remember and for them, this should serve as a wake up call that this isn’t the Magic anymore. I expect Middleton to prove his All-NBA status tonight and for Giannis to re-afirm his MVP in a big Bucks win.
If it doesn’t happen, you may as well call the moving trucks into Giannis’ house tonight.
Oklahoma City Thunder vs Houston Rockets
Line: Houston -5.5
Pick: Rockets -5.5
This is the biggest game of James Harden’s career.
Before you stop me and list off some Golden State sized failure from season’s past, think about this for a moment. Harden decided after last season one person was the Rocket’s problem and calmly got Daryl Morey to make the move to fix it.
That problem ladies and gentlemen was (and still kind of is), is Chris Paul.
You cannot scapegoat a man for your own failure and then lose to him the next season. That’s the kind of legacy catastrophe that even makes Karl Malone say “damn”.
People are going to put a lot of pressure on Russell Westbrook and I get it, losing to the Thunder is a difficult pill for his career to swallow. That being said, it’s not like there are many Russ defenders anymore. It’s just kind of accepted he is who he is.
No one was really all that surprised he struggled down the stretch of game six. That was Russ being Russ (and this is coming from a massive Westbrook fan).
Harden on the other hand has had countless people claim “how could anyone beat those Warriors”, or show his stats in those games and say he wasn’t that bad. Guess what, all those (pretty weak as it is) arguments die with an L tonight to Paul’s Thunder.
I’m challenging James Harden’s manhood. If you have the stones to kick a future Hall of Famer off your team you better beat him every single damn time you play him going forward.
The pick for me in this game is Houston because it just has to be. Otherwise, I wish James Harden’s legacy the best of luck in the Mariana’s Trench of a hole its dug itself in the last 12 catastrophic months.