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Playoff Journal -- May 24

   by Larry Ness - 05/24/2012

Brandon Bass made 2-of-12 shots last night for the Celtics (had eight points), after he set a career playoff-high with 27 points (18 in the third quarter, alone) when the Celtics won Game 5 at home, 101-85. It wasn’t Boston’s night on Wednesday, as the Celtics shot 33.3 percent from the floor (including 3-of-14 on threes). Pierce played well (24 & 11) plus Garnett also had a double-double (20 & 11) but starting guards Allen and Rondo (Bradley missed a second straight game with a bum shoulder), combined to make just 8-of-25 FG attempts, for a total of just 18 points. Allen missed time down the stretch of the regular season and the first few games of the Atlanta series with ankle issues but returned to play well for awhile. However, after scoring 29 points in the first two games vs Philly, he’s 9-of-25 (3-of-14 on threes) with just 22 points the last four games (5.5 per). Boston’s bench is a problem and six players got minutes last night but only Pietrus scored (a modest five points).

Philly is the much deeper team and FOUR of five starters reached double digits last night. Holiday (20 points / six assists) led the scoring with Brand adding a double-double with 13 & 10 (had 19 points in Game 5, after scoring just 17 points in the first four games). Iquodala and Turner each chipped in 12 points while Philly’s bench was quiet. Williams had 11 points but Young, Meeks and Allen (the only others to see minutes), combined for only five points. Philly's effort was hardly ‘pretty’ (76ers were 1-of-9 on threes and missed 11 of 28 FTs) but the 76ers are headed back to Boston for a Game 7 on Saturday. The Sixers owns SEVEN wins this postseason, which is tied for the second-most by a No. 8 seed (16-team playoff format began in 1983-84). However, Boston gets to play Game 7 at home and with no team having been able to win consecutive games in this series, has to hold the slight edge (right?). I guess we’ll have to wait and see. The early line says Boston by 5 1/2 points (total is 171).

With Philly’s win and cover, home teams are doing well in the second round, going 13-7 SU and 12-8 ATS (were 29-15 SU but just 23-20-1 ATS in the 1st round). Over bettors “never had a chance” last night (game fell 157 and the closing total was 175), ending a run in which they had cashed EIGHT of the last nine games (exception being SA/LAC Game 3 on Saturday). It's now 12 overs and eight unders this round, after 27 of 44 games went under in the first round.

"Zig Zaggers" had a good weekend (Fri-Sun) going 5-1 and last night’s win on the Sixers makes them 2-2 since Monday. They are 11-5 ATS in the second round, after finishing the first round at 16-19-1. The current postseason record stands at 27-24-1 ATS, or plus-0.6 net games (Thursday's play is on the Pacers).

It’s put up or shut up tonight for the Pacers tonight, as they host the Heat in Game 6 of this Eastern Conference playoff series. The Pacers were riding pretty high after holding Miami to 75 points each, in both Game 2 and 3 but they haven't been ready for prime time, since. Indiana's leading scorer, Danny Granger, took just six shots (had 10 points) while the team's other four starters combined to make only 14-of-41 FG attempts (34.1 percent) on Tuesday night in Miami. To add insult to injury, Granger left with a sprained left ankle in the third quarter and departed the arena in a walking boot, while West left with what the Pacers called a left knee sprain at the end of that period. The good news is, both are listed as probable for this game, although it’s unlikely that Granger will be 100 percent.

The Heat played their best game of the 2012 playoffs in Game 5, rolling over the Pacers, 115-83. As expected, LBJ had 30-10-8 (his 45th career 30-point playoff game) and Wade added 28 points. However, Battier got the start and chipped in 13 while the Heat bench got plenty of work (due to the blowout) and contributed 34 points. Miami shot 61.4 percent from the floor, including 9-of-16 on threes. It marked a franchise-best single-game shooting percentage for Miami in the postseason and is the best of any team in the playoffs this season. The bad news for Miami heading into this game is that Haslem (one game) and Pittman (three games) have been suspended. Haslem is one of the team’s co-captains and while his production has been so-so this postseason, he’ll be missed. ESPN carries the game at 8:00 ET with the Heat favored by three points (total is 182).

Good luck...Larry

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