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NBA Playoff Journal - May 4

   by Larry Ness - 05/04/2012

Watching the Heat and Knicks last night, it’s hard to imagine that Stoudemire’s presence would have made much of a difference in the outcome. The Knicks did lead 40-36 at the half (had a nice run in the second quarter with their reserves in the game) but Miami edged ahead by the end of the third quarter, 58-56. It was all Miami in the fourth quarter (29-14), as Miami rolled to an 87-70 victory. LBJ had 17 points in the 4th, ending the game with 32-8-5 (now has scored 30 or more in 42 of 95 career playoff games). Wade added 20 and Chalmers 19 (made 5-of-8 threes). ‘Melo had a ‘quiet’ 22 for the Knicks, who lost their NBA record 13th consecutive postseason game (Heat lead 3-0).

In TNT’s second game, the defending champs are all but ‘done.’ After losing the first two games of this series In Oklahoma City by one and three points, respectively, the Mavs were non-competitive last night. The Thunder used a pair of 16-5 runs (one in the second and another in the third), to take a commanding 3-0 series lead, with a 95-79 win. Durant made only 15-of-44 shots in the first two games of this series, but was 11-of-15 from the floor last night, scoring 31 points. Westbrook added 20 points with Ibaka chipping in 10 & 11. Dirk had 17 points to lead the Mavs, while the team’s other four starters combined to make an abysmal 9-of-29 shots (31.0 percent). Hard to imagine the Mavs coming back in this series, anymore than one would expect the Knicks to do so in theirs.

It’s a Friday night ‘tripleheader’ of games, on ESPN and ESPN 2. Home teams went 0-2 SU and ATS last night, to fall to 12-7 and 9-10 ATS, so far. Both games stayed under, as under bettors gained a small advantage Y-T-D in the postseason, with 11 unders and eight overs. “Zig-Zaggers” lost with both New York and Dallas and that fast 5-1 start to open his year’s postseason is now a modest 6-5. Up first on ESPN is Atlanta at Boston at 7:35 ET. The series is tied at one-all but the Celtics seem in much better shape that the Hawks. Rondo is back from his one-game suspension plus Allen just may try to play (hasn’t since April 10). Meanwhile, Josh Smith (Atlanta’s best player the second half of the season), is listed as doubtful with a strained tendon in his left knee. Boston is favored by eight points with a total of 173 1/2.

ESPN2 will carry Chicago at Philadelphia at 8:05 ET. This series is also tied at one-all but the big story so far, is that Rose was lost for the rest of the playoffs in Game 1. Rose's absence was not Chicago's biggest problem in Game 2 however, as CJ Watson and backup PG Lucas combined for 27 points. It was the play of Boozer and Deng which was truly sub-par in Game 2, as the duo combined to make 7-of-22 shots and score just 17 points (Boozer is averaging just 9.0-6.0 in the first two games). Also of major concern for head coach Tom Thibodeau heading into Game 3, is the play of Chicago’ defense. The Bulls were No. 1 in points allowed (88.2), No. 2 in FG percentage (42.1%) and No. 3 in three-point percentage (32.5%) during the regular season but Philly connected on 59.0 percent of their shots while scoring 109 points in the last contest. Philly head coach Doug Collins hasn’t led a team to a playoff series win since 1989, when his Bulls beat the Cavs and Knicks before losing in the Eastern Conference finals to the Pacers. Is this his year to break through? The 76ers are 1 1/2-point favorites with a total of 179.

ESPN’s second game is the Lakers at the Nuggets at 10:35 ET. The Lakers have yet to trail in either of the first two games and all-time, are 42-1 when taking a 2-0 lead in a playoff series (11-0 with Kobe). Meanwhile, the Nuggets have lost SIX of their previous seven playoff appearances in the first round under George Karl. Denver looked much better in Game 2 than it did in Game 1 and maybe a return home will help. The Nuggets are favored by 3 1/2-points and the total is 204.

I’ll be back Monday at 2:00 ET for a recap of the weekend action.

Good luck...Larry

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