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Moment Of Truth Arrives For Nets And Nuggets

Posted by Craig Parsons on 5/1/2013 7:51:49 PM

The NBA postseason is always marked by urgency, but never more so than in two situations: When a Game 7 arrives, or when Game 6 puts a favored team on the road, facing elimination.

Eastern Conference First Round, Game 6:
Brooklyn Nets @ Chicago Bulls – Thursday, May 2

In the poker games that unfold at a table, the mere luck of the draw plays a large role in deciding winners and losers. In a high-stakes basketball competition, the calculus is different. Over the course of five games, two teams learn how they match up and find who has the psychological edge, if one is to be found. This competitive balance can sometimes be reclaimed by the team that has been outplayed in the first five games, but that won’t always happen.

In this series, Chicago has dictated most of the way. The Bulls were blown out in Game 1 and wobbled for most of Game 4, but they played Games 2 and 3 exactly the way they wanted to from start to finish and have shown more toughness than the Nets to this point. Chicago is the team battling injuries. Joakim Noah has been physically limited by a case of plantar fasciitis.

Derrick Rose is, of course, out of the lineup. Kirk Hinrich has a creaky body and, in fact, missed Game 5. His outlook is not good for Game 6 on Thursday. Yet, the Bulls have put forth more effort than the Nets. They have limited Brooklyn’s effectiveness in the paint and have dared the Nets to shoot three-point shots. Brooklyn has not been able to hit them… not enough to make a difference, at any rate. Brooklyn star Deron Williams has underperformed in this series, and while teammate Joe Johnson has produced some impressive flourishes, especially in Game 4, they have not been enough to swing the competitive balance to the Nets.
Brooklyn has to win a road game to stay alive in this series and force Game 7. Williams and Johnson will have to be at their best, but the progression of this series suggests that won’t happen. The Nets have looked timid and cowed on most occasions. They know that the Bulls are injured, but that didn’t enable them to win either Game 3 or Game 4 in the Windy City. Chicago is finding more ways to win, and as long as Nate Robinson – the hero of Game 4 last Saturday – is good for at least one strong second-half scoring flurry, the Bulls should be in good shape.

NBA Betting Pick: Chicago

Western Conference First Round, Game 6:
Denver Nuggets @ Golden State Warriors – Thursday, May 2

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 Golden State should win this game. It’s true that Denver won Game 5 on Tuesday, but the Nuggets were playing at home and were in a desperate position. Golden State has not lost at home in this series, and Denver – which blew a 12-point lead in Game 3 last Friday night in Oakland – has not shown the sustained composure of a team that knows how to win playoff games away from home.

Denver led by 19 points in the fourth quarter of Game 5, and yet it relaxed to the point that Golden State had two chances to cut the Nuggets’ lead to two points inside the final two minutes. Denver is just not playing with the maturity needed to extend this series. In the online sports betting legal domain, you should be able to take advantage of Denver’s mental frailty by picking Golden State to close out the series.

NBA Betting Pick: Golden State


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