Last Updated: 2017-04-21
Chicago Bulls/Boston Celtics Over 207.5
The Celtics Bulls series has been one of the strangest in recent memory. Rajon Rondo is dialing back the clock to his best years in Boston, Jimmy Butler is showing why the Bulls have been so reluctant to trade him, and even players like Paul Zipser have added a new dimension to their offense. The reason the Bulls have won the first two games of the series is rebounding. In the regular season, Chicago was an above average rebounding team, but many felt that Boston was fortunate to be playing Chicago instead of Miami in round 1 because Miami is relentless on the offensive glass. Since the Taj Gibson trade, there has been questions about how effective Chicago would be rebounding. They have displayed just how problematic Boston’s rebounding is, and they may force Brad Stevens to double down on the strengths of Boston’s roster.
Brad Stevens is viewed as one of the best coaches in the NBA, and he is an effective scheme coach. Boston has shown that for them to succeed they need to have spacing for Thomas to get layups easily. However, in games 1 and 2 they tried to play a taller lineup to help rebounding. I have a suspicion that they are going to accept their rebounding deficiency while in Chicago. I think we will see a lot of lineups with Crowder at the 4, and Horford at the 5. This may be a lineup that struggles to rebound, but it probably won’t have terrible problems staying in front of Chicago’s big men. I think this lineup for Boston would be unguardable, but also allow for opportunities for second chance points for Chicago. Given the value of going small against Chicago, I think this game should go over the 207 threshold.
Utah Jazz/Los Angeles Clippers Under 197
Both my picks for tonight are going to be totals picks. Utah is without defensive player of the year candidate Rudy Gobert after he hyperextended his knee. Even still without Gobert, the Jazz can play good defense. It will likely require Derrick Favors to play center for sizable portions of the game with Diaw playing at the four, facilitating for the offense. With the Jazz being at home, it should be easier for them to control the pace at the slogging pace that Utah played at all season. Utah had the slowest pace in the NBA, playing only 93 possessions per game. League average is usually around 98-100 possessions per game. This helps compensate for their lack of offensive creators, but also helps with Hayward’s ability to play in the half court offensively. With Gobert going down, it may be easier for the Clippers to play in the half court, which may cause them to be less interested in pushing the pace.
The Clippers unlike the Jazz play at a league average pace. They averaged a little over 98 possessions per game which is almost exactly the league average pace. However, there may have been reason against Utah to try to get into transition more often to mitigate Gobert’s defensive value. With Gobert out of the game, the Clippers may be more willing to play at the Jazz’s pace. Chris Paul has always been more comfortable playing in the half court, and it’s arguable that Griffin in 2017 is a better player in the half court than in transition as well. While Griffin is one of the best transition players in the NBA, he has grown a very effective mid-range game, which has helped the Clippers in the pick and pop game. Pair the fact that Mbah a Moute’s effective defense against Hayward, with the slow pace to be expected from this game, and I think that there is a strong chance that this game will stay under 197.