Something to consider, for those of you mulling Brooklyn futures bets: the Nets won their first-round series in five games. The Bucks swept the Heat. That meant that their second-round series needed a certain amount of rest built in to help the rest of the league catch up. Conveniently for the Nets, that meant three-day rests after Games 2 and 3. Game 4 of this series isn't until Sunday.
Not that you needed any more reason to believe in this budding juggernaut, but the point is that James Harden now has about as much time to rest as any injured star could ask for in the middle of a playoff run. Of course, based on how they've looked thus far, they might be able to win the title without him, but hey, the healthier, the better. Now onto today's top picks.
All lines via William Hill Sportsbook
Philly lost Game 1 by four points. All five of their starters were plus-4 or better. Four of Atlanta's starters had negative point-differentials. So what went wrong for the Sixers? Matisse Thybulle and Furkan Korkmaz was minus-12 off of the bench. Dwight Howard was minus-15. George Hill was minus-17. No 76ers starter played more than 38 minutes. This isn't rocket science. Rotations are supposed to shorten in the postseason. Doc Rivers can't play 11 players again. Hopefully he's learned his lesson. He can't afford not to have if he plans to go to Atlanta with this series tied 1-1. The pick: 76ers -5
These teams are far closer to even than their records and seeding might suggest. With Mike Conley hobbled, the Clippers should have an advantage in Game 1. Their switching defense will cause problems for Utah's shooters, and Rudy Gobert's effectiveness will be dampened by the Clippers small ball. This should be a close series, but with such an important health issue hanging over Utah's head, the Clippers with the points is the right pick here. The pick: Clippers +4