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Playoff Journal -- May 17

   by Larry Ness - 05/17/2012

This group of Celtics has become used to hearing the 'whispers' that the team is too weary and too old to win another NBA title. Boston fell behind 33-28 after one quarter in last night's Game 3 in Philadelphia but 'exploded' in the second period (32-16) and again in the third (29-17), in what turned out to be a 107-91 rout. The Celtics won back the home court edge in the series, after losing Game 2, 82-81.

Kevin Garnett turns 36 on Saturday but has played like a 26-year-old in this series and in Boston's series-clinching Game 6 win over the Hawks. He led Boston with 27 points while adding 13 rebounds. That's FOUR straight double-doubles, as Garnett's averaged 24.8 PPG and 12.5 RPG in that span. Pierce continues to fight through the pain of a MCL injury in his left knee, adding 24 points and 12 rebounds. Rondo had a line of 23-6-14, as Boston connected on 51.9 percent from the floor (team shot a combined 42.9% in the first two games).

The Sixers continued their poor shooting this postseason, making only 40.7% overall, despite making 8-of-15 three-pointers. Brand's neck injury has rendered him ineffective this postseason (now averaging 6.9 RPG) while Turner made only 1-of-10 FGs attempts last night and Hawes, just 2-of-8. Williams, the team's leading scorer in the regular season, continues to miss-fire this postseason, going 4-of-10 last night (he's made just 35.4% during the playoffs, including 19.4% on threes). Thaddeus Young (12.8 PPG on 50.7% shooting in the regular season) has a sore right ankle as well as a bruised shin and had seen his scoring dip to 6.5 PPG on 37.5% shooting this postseason but finally came around last night with 22 points but it hardly mattered.

The Lakers were a "no-show" in Game 1 vs the Thunder (lost 119-90) but did an excellent defensive job against the Thunder in Game 2, holding Oklahoma City to just 79 points (matching the team's one-game season-low). However, LA was able to score only 75 points themselves, including ZERO after Bynum's hook shot made it 75-68 with 2:09 remaining. LA would come up empty on its last six possessions, as the Thunder finished the game on a 9-0 run!

Kobe had 20, Bynum 20 & 9 and Gasol 14 & 11. The bench scored a modest 11 points with Steve Blake missing a potential game-winning three-pointer at the buzzer (LA made just 2-of-15 three-pointers for the game). Durant led OKC with 22 points, including the game-winner on a baseline runner with 18 seconds left. Westbrook added 15 points and OKC's other three starters totaled a modest 16 points. Harden had 13 points off the bench, as the rest of the reserves added only 11 points.

It was not a 'pretty' win but as head coach Scott Brooks said, "If we would have gotten down on ourselves with two minutes to go, we would have lost by 12 and we would go to L.A. 1-1." Instead, the Thunder will take a 2-0 lead into Game 3 on Friday night at Staples Center. Don't think that's NOT a big deal! A check of the NBA playoff 'history book' tells us that the Lakers are 29-12 when splitting the first two games of a seven-game series but have lost 17 of 19 times when falling into an 0-2 'hole.'

Home teams split last night but went 0-2 ATS, falling to 5-3 SU but 3-5 ATS in the second round (29-15 SU but just 23-20-1 ATS in the 1st round) with four overs and four unders (17 overs / 27 unders in the 1st round). "Zig Zaggers" are now 4-0 ATS to open the second round but remember, they opened 5-1 in the first round but finished 16-19-1 ATS.

ESPN gets tonight's doubleheader, with Miami at Indiana up first (7:05 ET) and the LA Clippers at San Antonio to follow (9:35 ET). The Miami/Indiana series is tied at one-all and the Heat are two-point road favorites (total is 180 1/2 points), The Spurs are up 1-0 on the Clippers and are 10 1/2-point choices (total is 194) to extend their current 15-game winning streak.

Good luck...Larry

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