It’s win or go-on-vacation time for the Brooklyn Nets and Houston Rockets in the NBA Playoffs on Monday night. But would you bet on either team keeping their first round hopes alive?
Both, with home advantage, stand a chance of prolonging their respective series. At full strength, Oklahoma City should be sweeping Houston out of the post-season. Even without Russell Westbrook, they could still bring out the brooms. In the absence of his running mate, Kevin Durant scored 41 points on Saturday to give OKC a 3-0 lead in the series with a 104-101 defeat of the Rockets.
But although we will now see Durant shooting often and scoring big for as long as the Thunder last in the play-offs, he needs more help. Kevin Martin, whose role is now hugely critical, had only 12 points and their side shot just 37.9%.
The Rockets were much more efficient and if they can keep Durant below 35, they have a chance of stealing one back. They’re good value at 2.05 for the win.
Brooklyn trail the Chicago Bulls 3-1, and for all the problems that injuries have caused them, much of the damage has been self-inflicted. They led by 14 in Game 4 on Saturday but allowed Nate Robinson to catch fire and guide the Bulls to a stunning 142-134 triple overtime victory.
Chicago will take confidence that only eight teams have ever lost a series after leading 3-1. However they’ve still had to fight for every win over a Nets team that has made too many mistakes and missed a lot of free throws. Expect another scrap with Brooklyn -5.5 on the handicap at 1.91 and the Bulls at 3.00 to close out on the road.
Elsewhere, the Atlanta Hawks will try to level their series with the Indiana Pacers at 2-2. The Hawks delivered a shock blowout in Game 3 to win 90-69 and open their account, with their gamble on a new, bigger line-up paying off. Atlanta are 1.91 to cover the handicap of -2, yet Indiana have been great at making defensive adjustments all season and are 2.04 to claim a 3-1 lead. Go under the total points line of 186, available at 1.91.
Best bet: Back Houston to defeat Oklahoma City at 2.05