Milwaukee Bucks vs Miami Heat
Line: Miami -1.5
Pick: Bucks +1.5
This game isn’t just about extending the series for the Milwaukee Bucks. Now down 3-0 in the series, they are in a place no team has ever come back from so essentially, their season is over.
What that means is Giannis Antetokounmpo is now just one year from free agency. More or less, the next year is a long term recruiting pitch to the two-time MVP on why he should stay in Milwaukee and that starts this afternoon.
If the Bucks continue to fold and show little to no fight around Giannis, the pitch takes a major hit. But, if they say win one or two games against Miami, really fight and make it seem that maybe with a different coach or a couple bounces here and there the Bucks would’ve won, the series ends in a much more positive note.
What they don’t want is a 2009 Cavaliers situation where despite pushing the series to six games against Orlando in LeBron’s maybe best individual playoff series of his career still, the Cavaliers were just not good enough. This left LeBron heading into an offseason of looking around and asking is staying here really worth it if we aren’t that close?
The same could be said for Giannis after this game this afternoon. If Khris Middleton doesn’t show up and Eric Bledsoe can’t make a shot and Brook Lopez clearly can’t move at a high enough level defensively then Giannis heads into this offseason with the same question LeBron did.
There are two many flat out better options for Giannis to go then the Bucks can afford. They need a great game today. They need a win.
Giannis is questionable with an ankle but that shouldn’t matter. So far this series, the Bucks have shown little fight or pushback when things have gotten tough. Today’s the opportunity to right that ship. Even just for one day, the franchise needs it.
That’s why I’m picking them to win today, irregardless of Giannis’ questionable ankle. Miami doesn’t need this game, Milwaukee desperately does.
Bud is coaching for his job, half the players at minimum are likely playing for their own. If they can’t give the effort needed to get one game off a fifth seeded Heat team, how could they ever expect to keep Giannis?
Today is for more than the series. Today is the Milwaukee Buck’s first pitch in their recruitment of Giannis Antetokounmpo to stay in Milwaukee.
Houston Rockets vs Los Angeles Lakers
Line: Los Angeles -5.5
Pick: Rockets +5.5
There’s a patently absurd genius to the way this Houston Rockets team was constructed for the NBA playoffs. They have essentially eliminated a potential outcome of games. Let me explain.
If you really simplify NBA games, there’s really four potential results. A blow out win for either team or a close win for either team.
That is, unless you play the Houston Rockets. The Rockets have basically eliminated the possibility of themselves getting blown out with the high volume of threes they shoot and the shooters they have on their roster.
With the added value of the three, Houston has to hit a minimum 10 threes to win a game. If they take 45 of them, all they have to hit is about 25% to get there which is obviously not that high. Therefore, the Rockets can’t be blown out because they always are going to hit a threshold of points that is difficult to get so many more than for it to be a blowout.
The Rockets scored a minimum of 100 points in all but six games this season. So, if they’re basically a lock to get to that number it means that barring some weird aberration in two point percentage from their opponent, Houston either wins big, close or loses close. They’ve eliminated the ability to get blown out.
Firstly, this is important when they are an underdog in a game like this one and the number is basically six so all I need is the Rockets to keep it close to win which as the numbers suggest, they will. Second and more important to their title hopes, this puts the Lakers in a precarious situation.
Los Angeles has struggled all season finding the right three guys to play with LeBron and Davis down the stretch of a game. The thing is though, they’re so good, they’ve been able to blowout so many teams it doesn’t really matter.
But now against a team they mathematically shouldn’t be able to blown out, can they close enough close games to win? I believe they can and it’s why I picked them to win in six.
That said, this series provides James Harden and Russell Westbrook the type of dream scenario they couldn’t of paid for when it comes to their respective legacies. They have the chance in a series of close games to directly outplay LeBron and Davis.
Harden gets the chance to prove how great he really is while Westbrook has the opportunity to show he can be a winning teammate.
Morey’s bet in this series is simple, James Harden and Russell Westbrook are better than Anthony Davis and LeBron James and it will show in a series of close games.
I think he’s wrong, many would agree with me. Here’s the great thing about sports though, it doesn’t matter what we think, only what happens in the games that matters.
Morey has the math on his side more so than ever before but does he have the talent to get over the hump against the generation’s best player… we’ll see.