I don’t know about you, but I found Dwight Howard’s ejection last evening from the Los Angeles Lakers’ game four loss to the San Antonio Spurs to be almost poetic. Since the earliest stages of his contract squabbles in Orlando, I’ve found Howard to be childish, difficult and self-serving. In a game where his Lakers’ team clearly needed him for any shot at staying alive in the series, he received his second technical of the game in the early moments of the third quarter.
It’s fitting if this indeed is the end for him in Los Angeles that he went out in this manner. Obviously struggling and frustrated, Howard abandoned his teammates with Kobe Bryant, Steve Nash and Metta World Peace already out with injuries. Perhaps the best thing for the petulant Howard would be to take a max deal with a team that is far from the spotlight because it’s clear he can’t handle it right now.
Miami 88 Milwaukee 77 (Heat win series 4-0) – LeBron James scored 30 points to lead the Heat to the four-game sweep of the Bucks. Miami guard Dwyane Wade sat out with a bum knee which was certainly the right move as the Heat advanced anyway.
Boston 97 New York 9o OT (NYK Leads series 3-1) – Paul Pierce went for 28 points and 8 rebounds to help keep the Celtics alive in this series. J.R. Smith missed the game after being suspended by the NBA for his elbow to Jason Terry in game three. I fully expect Smith back and for the Knicks to wrap up the series at home.
Chicago at Brooklyn (Bulls lead 3-1) – If you talk to Nets’ fans, they’ll tell you Deron Williams has been pretty disappointing in this series and I’ll agree with them. If Brooklyn has any chance to stay in the series he’ll need to step up his game which in turn helps his teammates step up as well.
Despite leading the series, the Bulls are a 5.5 point underdog entering the game. Honestly, I don’t think it matters. Chicago has found a formula for success that I didn’t see playing out when I predicted the Nets to win this series. Joakim Noah has been more of a factor and Kirk Heinrich’s defense has been exceptional. I see the Bulls winning out-right tonight and I’ll take the over of 180.
Indiana at Atlanta (Pacers lead 2-1) – The Pacers enter with a one game lead and as 1.5 point underdogs but they also are coming off a total drubbing at the hands of the Hawks. Atlanta rode the big game of Al Horford on offense and then limited the Pacers in the half-court sets. The easy thing to do is suggest Atlanta has all the momentum despite trailing in the series, but Indiana is well-coached and will not come up lame in a second-straight game. Take the Pacers to win but the take the under which is at 186.
Oklahoma City at Houston (Thunder leads 3-1) – I have to had it to the Thunder. I really thought they would come out unfocused following the injury to point guard Russell Westbrook but they rode Kevin Durant exactly like I expected. He finished with 41 points and 14 rebounds but now the question is, can he do it again and get OKC into the next round of the Western Conference playoffs.
I still expect the Thunder to get past Houston in this series but the Rockets are not going to go quietly tonight. The Thunder now know that Westbrook is gone for the entirety of the playoffs so there is no use in worrying about that anymore. Houston is a rare home dog by 1.5 points and I think they actually win this one tonight with the goal of making Durant work for everything he gets.