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NBA Playoff Journal -- May 15

   by Larry Ness - 05/15/2012

NBA Playoff Journal (Tuesday, May 15)

Home teams finished the first round 29-15 SU but just 23-20-1 ATS. Unders began to separate themselves from overs, with 27 unders compared to just 17 overs (under bettors were plus-8.3 net games). Those following the Zig Zag theory started 5-1 but finished the first round 16-19-1 ATS.

Both Eastern Conference semis opened over the weekend, with Boston winning its Game 1 over Philadelphia 92-91 on Saturday and Miami beating Indiana 95-86 on Sunday. The first of two Western Conference semis began last night and it turned out the Lakers had little left for the Thunder, after winning a Game 7 at home Saturday vs the Nuggets. Oklahoma City led 59-44 at the half last night, then opened the third quarter with a 15-2 spurt. OKC won the quarter 39-24 and the game, 119-90. Westbrook had 27-7-9 and Durant 25-8-4, with sixth-man-of-the-year Harden adding 17 points (that's quite a trio!). The Clippers and Spurs open tonight and I'll get to their Game 1, shortly.

The first half of last night's TNT doubleheader was Game 2 of the Sixers/Celtics series. The 76ers led the Celtics for most of Saturday's Game 1 (led 77-67 with 11 minutes to go) but a 23-7 Boston surge turned that deficit into a six-point lead with 1:17 remaining, with Boston then hanging on for a one-point win. It was almost "deja vu all over again" in Game 2. Philly led 57-49 entering the fourth quarter but Boston TWICE tied the game, before Avery Bradley's three-pointer with 2:20 left gave Boston a 72-71 lead. However, Philly got the job done down the stretch this time, eking out an 82-81 win. Two games and two, one-point decisions. We could be in for a seven-game series.

Miami outscored Indiana 25-16 in Sunday's fourth quarter, earning a nine-point win and a half-point cover. LBJ had 32 points and 15 rebounds with Wade adding 29 points. Indiana big men West (17 & 12) and Hibbert (17 & 11) both played well but SF Granger, the team's leading scorer, made 1-of-10 shots for seven points. Starting guards Hill and George combined to shoot 5-of-15, scoring 16 points. All things considered, the Pacers hung tough with a poor performance.

Tonight's first half of the TNT doubleheader is Game 2 of that series (7:05 ET). Bosh has been ruled out indefinitely with abdominal problems and the Heat are favored by seven points (total is 185 1/2). Can LBJ and Wade "do it alone?" The Pacers did not play well in Game 1, yet hung around to the 4th quarter. This may yet be an interesting series. Don't forget, the Pacers had won 16 of their last 20, before Sunday's Game 1 loss.

Tonight's second game is the Clippers at the Spurs (9:35 ET). The Clippers almost let a 3-1 series lead get away from them vs the Grizzlies but the team pulled itself together in Game 7 at Memphis on Sunday, winning 82-72. The 'star' for the Clippers was the team's bench! LA's reserves outscored Memphis' 41-11. The Clippers held the Grizzlies to their worst shooting percentage of the series (32.5%, including miss all 13 three-pointers), as well as their worst postseason shooting performance in franchise history.

However, Blake Griffin has a sprained left knee (was 3-of-11 in Game 7 vs Memphis, scoring eight points while adding just four rebounds) and is clearly not 100%. The Clippers flew straight to Texas from Memphis on Sunday night, leaving them little time to savor one of the biggest wins in the 41-year history of the franchise. It marked just the franchise's third-ever playoff series win, the second since moving to California in the late 70s and the team's first-ever Game 7 win. The team's reward is a date with the Spurs.

San Antonio won its final 10 games of the regular season and were 24-3 from March 12 on. Not bad for an “aging” team. The Spurs won the first three games of their series with the Jazz by a combined 58 points (were 3-0 ATS), before letting a 21-point fourth-quarter lead almost slip away in an 87-81 Game 4 win (snapped the team's streak of 100-point games at 13 in a row). The Spurs averaged 102.3 PPG against the Jazz, connecting on 48.1%, including 40.7% on threes. Parker has led the way averaging 21.0 and 6.5 APG with Duncan at 14.3 & 8.8. NINE players are scoring between 4.3 and 10.0 PPG, playing from 11.5-to-25.0 MPG. San Antonio's bench contributed 44, 43 and 40 points in the first three games and then added a whopping 57 points in Game 4.

The Spurs opened 30-1 to win this series (it's now about 20-1) and San Antonio is favored by 11 points in Game 1 (total is 191).

Good luck...Larry

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