DAY FOUR - Kobe plays the blame game with his teammates, the defending champs try to even up their series against Chicago, and the Raptors attempt to get at least one win at home before heading to Jersey.
Nets at Raptors, 7:00 PM, NBATV
Thoughts: The Raps need this win and despite my pessimism towards the young ball club, I think they'll get it tonight. Going down 0-2 on your home court is something that doesn't happen often to teams, and a squad like Toronto can't recover from something like that. The defense has to be stronger for the Raps especially against Richard Jefferson and I think, at least for tonight, it will be. Toronto comes out more energetic and more aggressive tonight. Raptors win.
Heat at Bulls, 8:00 PM, TNT
Thoughts: While all the talk since game one has been about how to defend Luol Deng, the real issue is how Chicago will continue to defend Dwyane Wade. Make no mistake about it, Deng had a good game, but the key to Chicago's success against the Heat, all the way back to last season, is their ability to guard Wade. Finding a way to slow down Deng is important, but it's secondary to Wade getting into his dominant form. If the Heat can count on Wade to attack more, get to the line more, and count on Shaq to stay out of foul trouble, this series gets evened up tonight. Heat win.
Lakers at Suns, 10:30 PM, TNT
Thoughts: Last season the Suns won game one against LA only to lose the next three - don't expect a repeat. Phoenix has to have learned their lesson and will come out expecting a surge from the Lakers. Los Angeles was able to have success against Phoenix last season for two primary reasons: first, they were able to pound the ball inside with Odom and Kwame Brown. The health of Stoudemire and Kurt Thomas makes that significantly more difficult. Second, the unselfishness and balanced game from Kobe elevated his entire team, he is not performing near that level through one game. Until Kobe and the Lakers start showing me why I thought they could really challenge Phoenix, I won't be picking them for anything. Suns win.
* all times Eastern
Jordan's Playoff Picks so far:
8/10 - 80%
Nuggets at Spurs
Wizards at Cavaliers
Warriors at Mavericks