@KeepTheJuice21 NBA Play-In Picks - 3/14

San Antonio Spurs (34-48) @ New Orleans Pelicans (36-46)

Two teams that earlier in this season seemed hopeless to make the playoffs now have their chance to. And given the relative strength of the teams, it seems hard to believe this won’t go to the wire. Dejounte Murray is back and playing real minutes and the unit is functioning effectively. One thing the Spurs have done very well this year is beat the teams they are supposed to. New Orleans is right on the bubble of whether they “should” lose to the Spurs. These two split their previous matchups, both with the away team winning, but both came in March. They are familiar with each other and the Spurs made some sharp defensive adjustments to win the second one. I trust Popovich and Murray against a first year coach and Brandon Ingram not at 100%.

Chuck’s Pick

fanduel

SAN ANTONIO SPURS +5.5 @ -110

Charlotte Hornets (43-39) @ Atlanta Hawks (43-39)

As a quick aside, it’s shocking how much more it took to make the Eastern Conference play-in than in the West (43 vs 34 wins). The top of the West is strong but the East runs deep and it will be a gauntlet to get to the top. And it starts at the bottom with two teams that are far from pushovers. The Hawks have been messy this year but it’s hard not to think back on last years playoff performance from Trae and expect some fireworks. The Hornets have turned the keys over to LaMelo Ball and he’s been impressive as well. There are nerves to account for in his first playoff (play-in technically) game but even if Ball struggles, there are plenty of other scorers on the Hornets.
Obviously this total is very high, especially for a playoff game. But I believe there’s a bit of a misconception with how teams change in the playoffs. It’s often the case that the pace slows down and they play better defense, but that’s misleading. Playoff teams historically have leaned toward experience and defensive proficiency and what we see is teams leaning towards what made them successful. The Hornets and Hawks are two of the worst defenses in the league, it would be silly if they tried to lean on defense. They should be pushing the pace and catching the other in transition as they both have done all season. There will be a ton of points in this one to hit even this huge total.

Chuck’s Pick

fanduel

OVER 235.5 TOTAL POINTS @ -110

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