Milwaukee Bucks vs Miami Heat
Line: Milwaukee -5
Pick: Bucks -5
Much like how I challenged James Harden’s manhood going into game seven against the Thunder, I am doing the same to the Milwaukee Bucks tonight.
There are no more excuses for this team. Everyone is back and playing after the return of Eric Bledsoe and due to the bubble being as even a playing field as possible, they won’t have to deal with a wild Miami fanbase trying to propel the Heat.
Instead, it’s just the 2019-20 Milwaukee Bucks against the 2019-20 Miami Heat. The beautiful thing about this bubble is by eliminating home court advantages, we just find out as organically as possible who the better team is.
Through two games of this series the answer is unanimous.
Lucky for the Bucks, this isn’t Champions League with two legs, it’s a potential seven game battle full of adjustments and moves geared towards finding the best team. It’s just, you have to actually adjust to take advantage of that.
Which is why, coach Mike Budenholzer is the first Buck I’m calling out. No more playing Giannis 36 minutes, no more running the same defence for 48 straight minutes and for gods sake, no more sticking to the same rotation you ran in January in Sacramento. This is the NBA playoffs Bud.
No one cares anymore that you roll out of bed and win 60 games in this league because (excuse my language), no one gives a shit about the regular season anymore. It’s about the playoffs, win or go home, who’s the better man? Right now it’s Erik Spoelstra, that’s for damn sure.
Speaking of Bucks being thoroughly outplayed by their counterparts, if Khris Middleton could at least pretend he was worth 80% of the $30 million he was paid this season that would be helpful. I would say 100% but let’s be honest, it’s the playoffs and I want to make the bar actually attainable for Middleton to reach.
The guy he’s going against directly against, Jimmy Butler, is proving everyone wrong that had anything bad to say about him. I wonder if Khris has the ability to at least pretend to do the same thing?
Finally, Giannis needs to be better. No more ticky tacky fouls that give Bud an excuse to sit him. No more air-balled free throws. Find a way to play like the MVP. That’s what MVP’s in this league do and it’s time Giannis does that.
The pick tonight is Milwaukee and you know what, it probably shouldn’t be. As I’ve clearly stated above, the stones in this organization are questionable at best.
It’s time this regular season behemoth at least pretends to show up in the playoffs. Prove me wrong.
Win the game tonight, the excuses are long gone.
Houston Rockets vs Los Angeles Lakers
Line: Los Angeles -6
Pick: Rockets +6
There is no pressure at all on James Harden. You’d think I’m kidding but is anyone really going to ding his legacy if he loses to the number one seed Lakers with LeBron and Anthony Davis?
That fact should terrify Laker fans. A James Harden with everything to lose is well, not all that scary (see Wednesday for proof). A James Harden with nothing to lose is terrifying.
The reason for this is he has no reason to shy away from the moment. When we expect him to lose, he shows up. Look at his numbers the first four games against Golden State in 2018:
James Harden: Basic Game Log (99th Career Playoff Game to 102nd Career Playoff Game)
Pretty impressive right. Now look at them in games 5-7 when they had a chance to take down the Warriors:
James Harden: Basic Game Log (103rd Career Playoff Game to 105th Career Playoff Game)
Simply, when he has nothing to lose, Harden is a scary dude. Now, take it a step further and acknowledge this Lakers team has exactly no one with any hope of guarding him at all.
That’s why I believe this series much like that Warriors one will be tied 2-2 after four games. Then the Lakers will tighten up for all the right reasons while Harden will for the wrong ones and Los Angeles will advance in six games.
What that means from a gambling perspective is I love Houston, especially with six points on my side in these early games. Even if they don’t win tonight, the Rockets are built to add a level of randomness that will push the Lakers and keep it close enough to win the bet.
Sure Davis and LeBron may drop 40 each but, if it’s all for twos then the Rockets will take it. With Harden, Robert Covington, PJ Tucker and Eric Gordon bombing from deep, the randomness favours a tighter game than you may expect.
Especially as Russell Westbrook continues to work back to full health, adding another guard the Lakers have no prayer in defending one on one.
The Lakers will eventually pull this series out but that doesn’t mean we can’t make some money on the Rockets early on, that’s for sure.