Pick ‘n’ roll: Monday’s best NBA bets

Apr 21, 2008 |

Washington at Cleveland (-1 ½, 186 ½)

 

The Washington Wizards have tried talking to LeBron James, knocking him down, and getting in his face whenever possible. So far nothing’s worked and you can understand their frustration.

 

The Cavs, who have beaten Washington in the first round the last two years, aren’t backing down. James continues to drive into the paint to take the contact despite his troublesome back and Cleveland’s defense held Washington to fewer than 90 points for third time in the last four meetings between the two clubs on Saturday.

 

A fully healthy Gilbert Arenas would have a lot to say about that, but he’s working his knee into shape even though he did managed 24 points in about 27 minutes of work on Saturday. The problem is that Washington needs those points down the stretch, not in the first quarter.

 

Pick: Cavaliers

 

Utah at Houston (-1, 183 ½)

 

Houston reeled off the second-longest winning streak in NBA history in the regular season and notched 55 wins despite playing without Yao Ming for a quarter of the year. But that was in regular season play.

 

Utah gave the Rockets a slap in the face in Game 1, scoring 50 points in the paint during a 93-82 victory after oddsmakers set Houston as a one-point favorite in the game. The books have the Rockets favored again tonight in a contest that is a lot more important following Saturday’s loss.

 

"This is a must-win," Tracy McGrady told reporters. "It's tough to win in the regular season, but it's a totally different ballgame. That's a hostile environment. They play extremely well in Utah, on their home court, we don't want to go there 0-2."

 

Rockets point guard Rafer Alston has Game 3 circled as a possible return date from his pulled hamstring, but Houston needs this one before it looks ahead too much.

 

Pick: Houston

Check out yesterday's Pick 'n' Roll here.

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