The three teams with 1-0 leads in the NBA playoff series featured below were not remotely tested in their postseason openers. We’ll see if the underdogs can mount a real challenge either straight up or on the betting lines on Wednesday.
Game 2: Houston Rockets @ Oklahoma City Thunder
Wednesday, 7:05 PM ET
Odds: Thunder -11.5
The Oklahoma City Thunder cruised to a lopsided win in the second half of Game 1 on Sunday, establishing the belief that this series won’t be remotely close. Conventional wisdom suggested that Houston would not be able to keep pace with Oklahoma City’s supremely potent offense, especially in transition, and that’s exactly what took place in Game 1. The Rockets had to pin their hopes on a great shooting night from the three-point arc, but that didn’t materialize on Sunday. Oklahoma City displayed above-average defensive energy, relative to the regular season. It was as though the Thunder made a very conscious attempt to save some fuel for the playoffs after cruising through the regular season. If indeed Oklahoma City was (and is) saving up for the playoffs, Houston’s in really deep trouble. As it is, the Rockets’ path to victory is still a very narrow one. The Rockets need to pop in 15 to 20 threes in a game just to have a chance of pulling off the upset in the fourth quarter.
Pick: Thunder -11.5
Game 2: Atlanta Hawks @ Indiana Pacers
Wednesday, 7:35 PM ET
Odds: Pacers -7
There was good reason to think that this would be a long series (at least six games), but after Sunday’s Game 1 rout by the Pacers, it’s hard to remain confident in such a forecast. Indiana’s offense had suffered during the regular season without Danny Granger, leaving the Pacers in what appeared to be a vulnerable position as the playoffs began. However, on Sunday, Indiana easily topped 100 points, and what’s more is that the Pacers basically jogged through the final half of the fourth quarter, their victory very much in hand. Atlanta’s defensive effort – if you can even call it an effort in the first place – was appalling. The Hawks simply drifted through the motions and did not display the hunger a playoff team is supposed to bring to the floor. The sense before this series began was that Indiana would struggle on offense, but if Atlanta can’t be bothered to hustle on defense and in the pursuit of loose balls, it’s hard to take the Hawks seriously.
Pick: Pacers -7
Game 2: Los Angeles Lakers @ San Antonio Spurs
Wednesday, 9:35 PM ET
Odds: Spurs -8.5
On Sunday in Game 1, the San Antonio Spurs shot under 40 percent from the field for most of the day, finishing at 37.6 percent from the floor. They hit only 32 percent of their threes and finished with a pedestrian total of 91 points. They were far less lethal than they were for most of the regular season, when they bolted to the best record in the NBA through 65 games and appeared to be the driver’s seat for home-court advantage throughout the league playoffs. San Antonio showed that without a fully healthy and dynamic Tony Parker, it is a much more ordinary ballclub than it used to be. Manu Ginobili’s minutes were limited due to his recent health issues. San Antonio role players Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green combined to score just 14 points. The Spurs were beatable yet they still beat Los Angeles by 12.
The Lakers just don’t have much of anything that can truly scare the Spurs with Kobe Bryant out. The Lakers committed 18 turnovers on Sunday and hit just 3 of 15 three-point shots. Steve Nash has a bad back and can’t finish near the rim. Steve Blake is a defensive liability who makes a subpar Parker look good by comparison. San Antonio simply holds the upper hand here for NBA betting purposes.
Pick: Spurs -8.5