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NBA Playoff Journal
by Larry Ness - 05/07/2012
Here’s quick ‘Reader’s Digest’ version of what happened Saturday and Sunday in the NBA playoffs. Saturday began with Indiana ‘escaping’ with a 101-99 OT win in Orlando, opening a commanding 3-1 lead in that series. The Clippers followed with a second one-point win in their series vs the Grizzlies, taking a 2-1 lead in that series. Saturday night saw Oklahoma City sweep the defending champs in four games, as Dallas (last year’s “comeback kids”) get outscored 35-16 in the 4th quarter, as the Thunder won 103-97. The night was capped when the Spurs won their 13th straight game (won final 10 games of the regular season) 102-90 over the Jazz, opening a 3-0 lead in that series.
The Bulls, already without Rose, saw Noah sit out Game 3 in Philly, in Sunday’s first game of the day. The 76ers won 89-82 (Spencer Hawes led with 22 points) and with a 3-1 lead, look to become the fifth No. 8 seed to beat a No. 1 seed in the first round (No. 8 Memphis beat No. 1 San Antonio just last year). ‘Melo hardly owns an impressive playoff resume but he did lead the Knicks with 41 points on Sunday (Stoudemire added 20 & 10), as New York ended its 13-game playoff losing streak (longest in NBA history) with an 89-87 win over the Heat (Miami still leads, 3-1).
The Celtics opened a 64-41 halftime lead in Sunday night’s first game, extended that margin to 37 points in the third quarter, and then finished off the Hawks, 101-79. Atlanta saw Josh Smith return with 15 points and 13 rebounds after missing Game 3 plus Al Horford played for the first time since Jan 11 (12 & 5 in 20 minutes). However, the Hawks shot 40.8% as team, while the Celtics connected on 51.3%. Atlanta won Game 1 of this series but the Celtics (the lone team without home court advantage in a first round series to be favored to win) have now won three straight games.
The Lakers capped a busy weekend of eight games, by also taking a 3-1 lead over the Nuggets. Denver’s bench had outscored LA’s 35-8 in a Game 2 loss and then 39-9 in a Game 3 win. Last night, while Denver’s bench did account for 39 points, LA’s responded with 26, led by Jordan Hill’s double-double (12 & 11) plus Steve Blake’s 10 points (eight in the 4th quarter, including two HUGE three-pointers). Home teams are 19-11 SU but just 15-15 ATS so far in the postseason while under bettors are getting the best of the ‘totals’ game (12 overs and 18 unders). Those following the Zig Zag theory opened by winning FIVE of their first six bets but have since gone 6-10, leaving them 11-11 Y-T-D.
Monday’s schedule is comprised of a TNT doubleheader, the Spurs at the Jazz in Game 4 (8:05 ET) and then the Grizzlies at the Clippers in another Game 4 (10:35 ET). No team has looked better than the Spurs so far (3-0 SU and ATS) and the Jazz are staring a second straight sweep in the face (missed postseason last year but were swept by the Lakers in 2010, in the second round). San Antonio is favored by 7 1/2 points (total is 199). Most felt the Grizzlies/Clippers series would be the frist round’s best and so far, that’s been the case. The Clippers came from 24 points down in the fourth quarter to win Game 1 (99-98) but then Memphis won Game 2 (105-98), to even the series. Memphis again failed in “crunch time’ during Game 3, as the Clippers won 87-86. Tonight’s game sees the Clippers favored by one with a total of 182.