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NBA Playoff Picks and Predictions for Friday, April 24

NBA Playoff Picks and Predictions for Friday, April 24

NBA Playoff Picks and Predictions for Friday

Our team of writers and handicappers hand out their NBA picks and predictions for Friday, April 24.

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Cleveland Cavaliers at Detroit Pistons, 7:05PM ET

Richard Hamilton slipped into his white Bentley luxury sedan, decked out in Jordan Brand gear from head to flip flops, and chatted for a couple minutes in the Detroit Pistons parking lot.

Hamilton was asked Thursday if he thought the Pistons could beat Cleveland in Game 3.

``We ain't got a choice,'' Hamilton said.

No, they don't.

Detroit's streak of advancing to the Eastern Conference finals will essentially be over if it can't figure out a way to beat LeBron James and the Cavaliers at home on Friday night.

Pistons coach Mike Curry sounds like he expects the series to shift back to Cleveland.

NBA Free Pick: Cleveland | Best Line: -4.5 Sports Interaction

Orlando Magic at Philadelphia 76ers, 8:05PM ET

By splitting the first two games in Orlando, the Philadelphia 76ers grabbed the home-court edge in their first-round playoff series against the Magic.

Don't be too quick to call it an advantage.

Orlando tied Cleveland and Boston for the second-best road record in the NBA this season at 27-14, just two games behind the Lakers. The Magic played better on the road than the Sixers did at home (24-17).

Orlando also won both meetings in Philadelphia.

So while the Sixers certainly got Orlando's attention with a 100-98 victory in Game 1, the third-seeded Magic struck a tone of respect and determination after evening the best-of-seven Eastern Conference series with a 96-87 win in Game 2 on Wednesday.

Philadelphia, seeded sixth, hosts Game 3 at 8 p.m. Friday.

NBA Free Pick: Philadelphia | Best Line: +3.5 Sports Interaction

Portland Trail Blazers at Houston Rockets, 9:35PM ET

The Houston Rockets think they have two of the NBA's top 1-on-1 defenders in Shane Battier and Ron Artest. They know they'll have to do a better job after neither could handle Brandon Roy in Game 2.

Portland's star guard scored 42 points to lead the Trail Blazers to a 107-103 victory Tuesday night that evened their first-round playoff series at 1-1. The Rockets had a 90-minute film session followed by a two-hour practice on Thursday, undoubtedly working on better ways to control Roy, the NBA's 10th leading scorer.

Game 3 is Friday in Houston.

Artest, in his 10th season, said Roy was the first player to score more than 40 points on him. He made 15 of 27 shots, many of them layups, and went 10-for-12 from the free-throw line.

NBA Free Pick: Houston | Best Line: -5.5 Sports Interaction

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