NBA playoff picks: Game 3s

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NBA playoff picks: Game 3s

Safe sides

Indiana (-2.5) at Atlanta

For the first six quarters of this series, the Pacers weren’t just outplayed, they were outclassed. A hyper aggressive Jeff Teague took it to the Pacers, who seemingly had no answer for the Atlanta point guard. By the third quarter of Game 2, however, Indiana started adjusting on the defensive side, switching pick-and-rolls and making Teague force the issue. Paul George woke up as well, and the Pacers blew the doors off the Hawks in the second half. Above all, they finally started playing with a sense of urgency. Heading to Atlanta for Game 3, the Pacers know they can’t afford to let the Hawks seize the momentum once again. The good thing for bettors is because of Atlanta’s shocking Game 1 win, this line is about two points too low.

Oklahoma City (-2) at Memphis

The Grizzlies are a seasoned playoff team, and they showed it with a gritty Game 2 win on the road in which they bent but refused to break in the face of multiple waves of Oklahoma City surges down the stretch and in overtime. That said, Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook combined to miss 33 shots and the Thunder bench was outscored 33-14. Because role players tend to play better in their own building, the Memphis bench figures to once again have the advantage in Game 3. But that shouldn’t matter, because the chances of Durant and Westbrook submitting consecutive poor shooting nights are slim to none. Regardless of the venue, it’s difficult to beat the Thunder two straight times exactly because of that.

Golden State (+3) vs. Los Angeles

Over the course of a long series, it’s often necessary to simultaneously make adjustments while having a short memory. The Clippers exhibited that after blowing a double-digit lead in Game 1, only to come back and torch the Warriors by 40 in Game 2. Now it’s Golden State’s turn. Of all the teams returning home on the heels of a loss, the Warriors have the biggest advantage. Not only do they feed off one of the most frenzied playoff crowds in the league, they have also given the Clippers all kinds of fits at the Oracle over the last few years, winning the last five matchups, with Los Angeles’ last win coming in December 2011. This is a good spot to be getting points.

San Antonio (-3.5) at Dallas

The Spurs laid an egg in Game 2, plain and simple. It’s almost impossible to shoot 50 percent from the field in the playoffs and lose, which they did, thanks to 22 turnovers. But that doesn’t change the fact that Dallas hadn’t beaten San Antonio in their last 10 tries before Game 2. And going into a hostile environment won’t faze the Spurs; they were nearly as good on the road (30-11) as they were at home (32-9) in the regular season. Bettors can expect a strong and decisive bounce-back performance in Game 3.

Total to target

Chicago at Washington – under 182.5

In blowing sizable fourth-quarter leads in each of the first two games of this series, the Bulls proved they simply can’t match the talent of the Wizards. Winning in the playoffs is about closing. The Wizards have a pair of closers in John Wall and Bradley Beal. The Bulls have none. What they do have is one of the best coaches in the league and a core that has been through the postseason grinder before. It’s tough to envision Chicago coming back to win the series, but it’s a virtual guarantee Tom Thibodeau will have used the layoff to make some defensive adjustments. Win or lose, the Bulls are going to come out with some wrinkles for the Wizards, which points to a game played in the 80s.

Overall picks: 15-17-2

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