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Teams That Advanced In Last Year’s Playoffs Will Try To Advance Again This Year

Posted by Craig Parsons on 4/23/2013 7:18:46 PM

The NBA playoffs normally require teams who haven’t won many postseason series to prove themselves against opponents who have. This dynamic will be in existence on Wednesday.

Eastern Conference First Round, Game 2:
Atlanta Hawks @ Indiana Pacers – Wednesday, April 24

If the Atlanta Hawks played high-stakes poker games for a living, they probably wouldn’t have much of any money. Among the six teams that will play in playoff games on Wednesday, Atlanta is one of only two (alongside the Houston Rockets) that did not win a playoff series last year. Atlanta, though, made the playoffs, unlike Houston. Why do the Hawks fall short in the postseason?

Atlanta forward Josh Smith is a prodigiously talented athlete with a low basketball IQ. He does not perform in ways that maximize the fullness of his physical capacities. The Hawks simply can’t find consistency at the offensive end of the floor because they don’t make good decisions. They have the talent to beat the Pacers, but do they have the will and the necessary level of concentration? It’s doubtful. Regardless of what happens in Game 1 on Sunday (except for a key injury), Indiana should be the percentage choice for basketball bettors in Game 2.

NBA Betting Pick: Indiana

Western Conference First Round, Game 2:
Los Angeles Lakers @ San Antonio Spurs - Wednesday, April 24

In the online sports betting legal domain, you should be able to identify the Spurs as the superior team in this series, the one that should be able to send a strong message to the Lakers in Game 2 of this best-of-seven set. The Lakers’ half-court defense just hasn’t been very robust this season. Head coach Mike D’Antoni has rarely if ever gotten the most out of any of his clubs at the defensive end of the floor.

No matter where D’Antoni has coached in the NBA, his teams have relied on prolific scoring to win games. Against a team that is as deep as San Antonio in fact is, the Lakers have to show the Spurs a more resilient defense, one that can convey the idea that San Antonio will be in for a fight on each possession. Can Los Angeles truly communicate that (unspoken) vibe to the Spurs’ roster? It’s highly doubtful that the Lake Show can acquire that kind of fire in this series. That’s not who (or what) the Lakers have been all season long. It will be hard for Los Angeles to flip the switch now. San Antonio is in great position to win Game 2.

NBA Betting Pick: San Antonio

Western Conference First Round, Game 2:
Houston Rockets @ Oklahoma City Thunder - Wednesday, April 24

Even the ranks of football betting students who simply can’t be bothered to do much of any analysis on the NBA would say that James Harden, one of the most high-profile acquisitions of the past offseason, cannot win this series by himself for the Rockets. The Thunder have more quickness on the perimeter with Russell Westbrook, a point guard who should be able to dominate Houston point guard Jeremy Lin and get shots on demand.

The Thunder are also deeper than Houston; they’re blessed with a bench that doesn’t just provide scoring punch, but defense and rebounding, especially in the form of underrated low-post banger Eric Collison. Oklahoma City did not have to win the final game of the regular season in order to lock up the top seed in the Western Conference playoffs. The Thunder needed to be fresh for this series and achieved their objective. As if all these points don’t offer enough evidence to support the contention that Oklahoma City is sitting pretty against Houston, the Thunder also have the best player on the floor in this series.

Kevin Durant will easily own the court as the foremost superstar in this series. He is used to being the top target of an opponent, whereas Harden – Oklahoma City’s third scoring option last season – will get his first taste of being “the guy” on his roster in the NBA playoffs. Harden will need more than Sunday’s Game 1 to get used to this. In Wednesday’s Game 2, he’ll still feel out of place, and Oklahoma City will pounce on this fact.

NBA Betting Pick: Oklahoma City

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