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NBA Playoff Journal - May 10

   by Larry Ness - 05/10/2012

This year's first round has featured two sweeps (Thunder over Mavs and Spurs over Jazz), with all other series standing at 3-1 after four games. Those six series played their Game 5s the last two nights, with the Pacers and Heat being the only two clubs to "close out" their respective opponents. The Pacers did so Tuesday night with a 105-87 win over the Magic and the Heat ended the Knicks' 2012 postseason with a 106-94 win last night. LBJ had 29-8-7 plus Bosh and Wade each added 19 points. The Heat won each game by double digits (average margin of 18.0 PPG, led by Game 1's 33-point victory), with New York staving off a three-game sweep with an 89-87 win last Sunday.

The Knicks have a coaching decision to make in the off-season (will Woodson have the interim label removed or could Phil Jackson be lured back to New York?) plus could another team be interested in Amar'e Stoudemire? The numbers speak for themselves. The Knicks are just 31-40 with BOTH Carmelo Anthony and Amar'e Stoudemire in the lineup over the last last seasons, including 1-7 in the postseason.

Here's something I saw from Elias and it's worth passing on, in case readers missed it. Carmelo Anthony has the lowest postseason win percentage in NBA history (minimum 10 postseason games played), among players to average at least 20 points in their regular season careers. Anthony has gone 17-37 overall, including 1-8 with the Knicks. Ten of Anthony's 17 wins came in 2009, when he helped lead the Nuggets to the Western Conference finals before losing to the Lakers in six games. Any way you slice it, 'Melo's record is hard to easily explain away.

The Hawks, Bulls and Nuggets were able to 'stay alive' in their respective series by winning Game 5s on Tuesday and the Grizzlies joined them by beating the Clippers 92-80 last night. Gasol (23 & 7) and Randolph (19 & 10) played their best games of the series for Memphis while the Grizzlies kept Paul (19-6-4) and Griffin (15 & 11) pretty much 'under wraps.' What's more, Paul strained a right hip flexor muscle and Griffin sprained his left knee last night. If there's one thing NBA fans should know by now, when it comes to the Clippers, nothing comes easy.

The Clippers will host the Grizzlies Friday night at Staples Center, hoping to clinch only the team’s SECOND playoff series since the Buffalo Braves relocated to California to begin the 1978-79 season. The Grizzlies are now 18-3 at the FedExForum their last 21 games (losing only two OT games in the regular season plus suffering that record-tying fourth-quarter collapse against the Clippers in Game 1 of this series). However, in order to get back to Memphis, the Grizz will need to win in LA, first.

Three series resume tonight, as three more teams try to advance to the second round, while three more try to set up a Game 7. Chicago and Philadelphia is up first, at 7:05 ET on the NBA Network. The 76ers are favored by 3 1/2 points (total is 170), trying to advance to the second round for the first time since 2003, while also becoming only the fifth No. 8 seed to beat a No. 1 seed in the first round. TNT features another doubleheader, starting with Atlanta at Boston (8:05 ET), followed by LA at Denver (10:35 ET). The Hawks are 1-9 all-time vs the Celtics when meeting in the postseason (0-6 since moving to Atlanta), while the Nuggets are trying to turn around the team's poor playoff history over the last 2 1/2 decades. Denver has been to the postseason in 13 of the the last 24 years (going back to 1988-89) but heading into this year’s series with the Lakers, had been eliminated in the first round, 10 of 12 times (SIX of seven times under Karl). Boston is favored by 6 1/2 points (total is 174) and Denver is favored by 1 1/2 (total is 197).

Home teams are 25-13 SU so far this postseason, going a much less impressive, 21-17 ATS. There have been 16 overs and 22 unders after 38 games and those following the Zig Zag theory remain right at “the Mendoza line” (15-15, after a 5-1 start).

Good luck...Larry

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