LetsRUMBL NBA Picks: First round playoffs heating up
The NBA Playoffs are in full swing. A few surprises have already occurred as the New Orleans Pelicans have seized early control of their first round series with the Portland Trail Blazers.
Meanwhile the top two seeds in the Eastern Conference – Toronto Raptors and Boston Celtics – have powered past their respective opponents.
Now with the first round series getting turned up a notch, LetsRUMBL has three key daily fantasy sports stars to put in your team this weekend.
Friday April 20
LeBron James, Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Indiana Pacers
LetsRUMBL average: 53
The Cleveland Cavaliers were blown out by the Indiana Pacers in game 1, 98-80. Some may have seen the team's 18-point loss as a changing of the times. But the Cavs have won three straight Eastern Conference championships and the team still has fight in them. LeBron James has appeared in seven straight NBA Finals, and for nearly a decade, he has been crowned Eastern Conference champion. That streak could end this postseason, but James will go down with a fight.
James was the Cavs only effective player in game 1, as King LeBron posted a triple-double (24 points, 10 rebounds and 12 assists). The Pacers' defense kept the rest of the Cavs in check, but James still played to the heights fans expected.
It will be difficult for the Pacers to hold the Cavs to just 80 points again. By the time game 3 rolls around in Indianapolis, James and the Cavs will have found their way. The Cavs may not be good enough to repeat as conference champions – we have known this for a while – but the team is better than it showed in game 1. In five games against the Pacers this season – regular season and postseason – James has averaged 27.8 ppg. This may be James' swansong with the Cavs, so expect a solid individual performance in game 3.
Saturday April 21
Paul George, Oklahoma City Thunder vs. Utah Jazz
LetsRUMBL average: 39
Paul George was a monster in game 1 of the NBA Playoffs for the Oklahoma City Thunder. The forward sank 36 points and collected seven rebounds as the Thunder won by eight against the Utah Jazz. George shot an outstanding eight for 11 from behind the three-point arc in game 1. He only averaged 3.1 three-point shots made per game during the regular season. George's 3.1 three-pointers was a career high as was his 7.7 three-point attempts per game.
OKC's big three were stellar against the Jazz, and George benefited from Russell Westbrook's eight assists.
George and the Thunder should continue to thrive against the No. 5 seed Jazz. Utah is without forward Thabo Sefolosha and the Jazz's star rookie guard Donovan Mitchell may have his minutes reduced due to injury. His minutes in game 3 will be affected by the second game of the series, which he is a doubt for.
George's own minutes could be reduced in game 2 due to an injury he is carrying, but the forward should be ready to go when Friday night's game tips off.
In five games against the Jazz in both the regular season and postseason, George averaged 24.6 ppg. Utah's injury problems could play right into the hands of OKC. If Utah's top guard can't go – or is undermined by injury – George and company should be nearly unstoppable in game 3.
Sunday April 22
Giannis Antetokounmpo, Milwaukee Bucks vs. Boston Celtics
LetsRUMBL average: 49
Giannis Antetokounmpo and the Milwaukee Bucks find themselves between a rock and a hard place. The Bucks are 2-0 down to the Boston Celtics and now go home to Milwaukee needing a big performance to level the series.
Antetokounmpo was huge in Milwaukee's game 1 defeat scoring 35 points, dishing out seven assists and collecting 13 rebounds. His game 2 performance was similar as he tallied 30 points, nine rebounds and eight assists.
The Bucks posted a below .500 record on the road during the season. However, the team was 25-16 at home. Antetokounmpo and company should perform better in front of their hometown fans. Perhaps the team's nonexistent defense could show up at the Bradley Center to stop a Celtics team that doesn't have Kyrie Irving. At least with the ball, Antetokounmpo will be difficult for the Celtics to stop.