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May 6th 2014 - Posted at 5:00 PM Eastern Time

There are two picks risking a total of 4% from our bankroll tonight.

#1: Take Portland Blazers at +7 spread (buy half a point) against San Antonio Spurs risking 2%

Portland got to this point by beating the Houston Rockets in 6 games and has been resting on the sidelines while the Spurs had a grueling 7-game series against their in-state rivals. If the first round of the playoffs were any indication, this should be another very entertaining series to watch.

While the Spurs have the luxury of home court advantage in Game 1, we believe that may be where the advantages stop. San Antonio survived a scare from the Dallas Mavericks and wrapped up their opening round series on Sunday. The quick turnaround and lack of rest combined with insufficient time to come up with a detailed game plan to face a team like Portland is quite the disadvantage. The Spurs are also an aging team and while being older usually indicates extra experience, it also means that players tire much faster during a tough schedule of games and require more rest in between games. The Blazers will have an edge by not only being the younger and more athletic team but by having had just enough rest to not be rusty.

We also anticipate some matchup problems for the Spurs in this series. The Mavericks were able to give San Antonio all they could handle in their opening series and Terry Stotts and Jay Triano will no doubt have taken some notes. The Spurs had little response to the offensive proficiency of the Mavericks but where Dallas failed was not surprisingly on the defensive end. Portland is a team that is built similar to the Mavericks, in that they are extremely efficient on the offensive side of the ball. They are one of the highest scoring teams in the league and have proven that they can go score for score with anyone. The difference with Blazers however, is that they do play defense and do so well unlike the Mavericks. In the second half of the season, the Blazers proved that they can get timely stops when needed and clamp down on the defensive end. They managed to hold the offensively impressive Houston Rockets to under 100 points, something not few teams have been able to do. We expect the Blazers to give the Spurs as many, if not more problems than the Mavericks did in this upcoming series.

This Portland team is also a group that plays with a lot of heart and determination! At certain points in the series against Houston, they were down and out. The Rockets managed to jump out to some comfortable leads and when most teams would have given up and folded, the Balzers continued to fight. They battled back and not only clawed their way back into the game, but even managed to win the game outright! That kind of fight says a lot about a team and its character and proves that even if they go down on the scoreboards, they will continue to stay competitive for the entire 48 mins.

It's worth noting that the Spurs have had trouble covering spreads so far in the playoffs. Prior to their cover in Game 7, the Spurs were 0-6 against the spread. Much of the Spurs success has been because they are so proficient at shooting the 3 ball. They have numerous perimeter shooters on their team and that has aided them at building and extending leads to pull away in certain matchups. The problem for them is that Portland is also a team that is extremely efficient from downtown! A big reason that Mavs were a handful in their series with San Antonio was because of their threat from long range. Portland should also be able to keep pace with San Antonio from beyond the arc in this series.

After such a grueling series and a quick turnaround for San Antonio, we aren't completely convinced that the Spurs will even win this game outright let alone cover the 7 points in the process. We expect this to be a close, back and forth affair which will likely be decided in the last few minutes of the game. With that being said we feel that the points will likely come into play. Take the generous points with the Trail Blazers.

Other notable facts to consider:

  • Portland is 4-2 ATS as a road underdog of 6.5 to 9 points this season.
  • Spurs are just 4-10 ATS as a home favorite of 6.5 to 9 points this season!
  • Portland is 13-5 ATS on the road when attempting to revenge a loss vs. an opponent this season!
  • Spurs are just 1-6 ATS in the playoffs this season!

#2: Take Brooklyn Nets at +8 spread against Miami Heat risking 2%

The start of the 2nd round of playoffs continues tonight when the Brooklyn Nets travel to South Beach to take on the two-time defending champions Miami Heat!

This will likely shape up to be one of the more heated matchups in this round of the playoffs. The Brooklyn Nets have been extremely vocal about being the team that will dethrone the Heat as champions. The ambitious ownership made a number of big moves in the offseason in order to build a team that can contend for the title. They are a hungry bunch and showed that by sweeping the regular season meetings with the Heat this season! That proves that this team is capable of hanging with the league’s elite. What's impressive is not only did the Nets manage to beat Miami 4 times but they held them to under 100 points in three times! The Nets have proven to be able to cause Miami problems and that makes this series very compelling to watch.

The Miami Heat made quick work of the Bobcats in the opening round, dispatching Charlotte in 4 games! While many will look at that 4-game sweep as a good thing and believe that the long layoff will somehow benefit the Heat, we believe that will actually put them at somewhat of a disadvantage for this first game. Basketball and the style that Miami play it in particular are all about flow and rhythm and when teams are in sync, they put on spectacular performances. That is something that teams only get a feel for during a live game. Practice and "shoot-around" keep players’ skills in-tact, that’s true; but they do not mimic real in-game tendencies. The actual game is played at a much different speed and intensity and is nearly impossible to prepare for. By sitting on the sidelines and not playing for over a week causes teams to fall somewhat out of sync during actual game meaning they aren't typically as sharp or as crisp in the 1st quarter. Shots may be falling short or rimming out and that's when we typically see an above average amount of turnovers happen as well. That is what we expect in the early going tonight. Many will recall that Miami swept Milwaukee in the first round of the playoffs last year and had a similarly long layoff. Rest turned into 'rust' however as they were abysmal in the first half of Game 1 agains the Bulls in the next around. We believe Miami will be better prepared tonight but a rusty first quarter or half is often the difference between winning and covering and winning and not covering.

The Nets managed to salvage their season and make it to this round by winning their Game 7 on the road in Toronto on Sunday. While it's not ideal for an aging team like the Nets to continue to play at a high level with this type of rigorous schedule, they do at least have an advantage of having been consistently playing and doing so at a high level. Their game is sharp right now and having won a couple of games on the road in order to get here shows the heart of this team and their ability to come up big in pressure situations. The Nets have already proven that they can win in South Beach, having done it twice already this season, 8 points in this situation simply seems like too much especially consider 3 of the 4 meetings were decided by exactly 1 point. The Nets were +7.5 point underdogs just last month when they visited South Beach and the total was a familiar 192, much like this particular matchup and it was the Nets who came away with another narrow outright victory. We don't expect them to pull out the outright win tonight but we do expect this one to go down to the wire as well and to be fairly close throughout.

This is the matchup that the Nets had been wanting all season long. This is what they have talked about and this is the reason they build the team that they did. Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett have been a thorn in the side of Lebron James for pretty much his entire career. These are players that know James and his tendencies extremely well and know that if they can slow him down, it will create the potential opening Brooklyn needs in this series. While Miami will no doubt be looking to atone for their previous 4 defeats at the hands of the Nets, this is the playoffs, and everything is magnified on this stage so if Miami comes in just a little bit too emotional looking for revenge, it could hurt them more than help them.

Something else that not many people are talking about is Nets coach Jason Kidd. Kidd, we believe, is an X-factor in this game. Kidd, being a rookie head coach does not have a lot of coaching experience under his belt but he was a terrific point guard and does have a deep tactical knowledge of the game. He's also a winner and know what it takes to come out ahead. Kidd knows this Miami team extremely well and as a player he has had a lot of success against them recently. Kidd was 16-5 in his career as a player against the Heat since 2007/2008 and with 4 wins over them as a coach, he's riding an impressive 20-5 streak over the Kings of South Beach! If anyone knows what it takes to beat this team, it's Jason Kidd.

It's common knowledge that Miami is not the greatest rebounding team and that has been one of their weaknesses. Brooklyn on the other hand has been impressive on the glass recently. The Nets have out-rebounded the Heat 201-154 so far this season and that has been key to their 4 victories! They have played fundamental basketball well against the Heat and we expect them to do more of the same tonight. The previous meetings have been played extremely close and could have arguably gone either way. While we believe the 2-time champs will win this series, laying 8 points in the opening game after a long layoff is a tall task and too many points to pass up on. This is a game that should be fairly close and even if it isn't, there's always a chance for a backdoor cover when getting that many points!

Other notable facts to consider:

  • Nets are 13-4 ATS after a game against a division opponent.
  • Nets are 8-4 ATS on the road when the total is set between 190 and 194.5 points!
  • Underdog is 4-0 ATS in the last 4 meetings.
  • Nets are 9-4 ATS in the last 13 meetings in Miami.

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