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NBA Playoff Journal - May 31

   by Larry Ness - 05/31/2012

The Celtics jumped out to an early lead last night in Miami (up by as many as 15 in the first half) but the Heat cut the lead to seven at the half (Boston, 53-46). Boston actually extended its lead to 11 points in the early third quarter but the Heat produced another excellent third quarter, something which has become routine. Miami used a 12-0 run to win the quarter 35-22 and take a six-point lead into the fourth. It was the FIFTH straight game in which Miami outscored its opponent by double-digits in the third quarter.

However, the Celtics didn’t fold and sent the game to OT. It was a high-scoring five-minute period, with the Heat prevailing 16-12 in the extra session and 115-11 in the game. Rondo scored all 12 of Boston's points in overtime, capping a 44-point, eight-rebound and 10-assist effort in which he played every second of a 53-minute game. KG just missed another double-double with 18 & 8 but made only 6-of-18 shots. Pierce had 21 points but also shot poorly (8-of-19) while the do-nothing Boston bench did nothing, chipping in just SEVEN points. LBJ had 34-10-7 (his 47th career 30-plus game in the postseason) and Wade had 23-6-4. Chalmers had a huge game (22 points) and the Miami bench was solid, adding 25 points (Haslem had 13 & 11).

Home teams are now 4-0 SU (2-2 ATS) in the conference finals and 46-24 in the playoffs to-date, going 38-31-1 ATS. Last night’s game ‘flew’ over but under bettors have had the best of it through 70 games, with 32 overs and 38 unders. Those following the Zig Zag theory got a win on the Celtics and are now 29-26-1, or plus-0.4 net games this postseason. Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals is set for Friday night in Boston, with the early line showing the Celtics favored by 1 1/2 points and a total of 179.

Game 3 of the Western Conference finals is tonight at 9:05 ET on TNT. The Thunder let Game 1 slip through their fingers, getting outscored 39-27 in the fourth quarter of a game they lost 101-98. Oklahoma City entered game Game 2 knowing it had gone 15-3 following a loss this season but the Thunder were in trouble right from the start. The Spurs steadily extended their lead in each of the first three quarters, taking a 92-76 lead into the final period. Yes, the Thunder cut the deficit to six points with just more than five minutes remaining minutes remaining (Spurs missed 12 of 15 shots during one stretch) but San Antonio pretty much controlled the game from there. Parker led the way with 34 points and eight assists with Ginobili up next with 20 points off the bench. Kevin Durant had 31 points and Westbrook had 27-7-8, among OKC starters but the other three combined for a modest 13 points (Ibaka did have 10 rebounds and four blocks). James Harden scored 30 points off the Thunder bench but after going 6-of-8 for 13 points in Game 1, Fisher remembered he’s ‘washed up’ and made just 2-of-11 shots. Collison, Cook and Mohammed logged a combined 19 minutes off the OKC bench but didn’t contribute a single point

The San Antonio reserves combined for 38 points (down from 52 in Game 1) but the starters were quite good. Leonard had 18 &10, Duncan 11 & 12 (although he was just 2-of-11 from the floor), Green 10 & 5 and Diaw 9-6-7. The Spurs shot 55.1 percent from the floor, making 11-of-26 three-pointers. Parker is averaging 20.5 PPG and 7.1 APG in the postseason, Duncan 16.8 & 9.5 plus Ginobili, after a poor start in the postseason’s first three games, has averaged 17.0 PPG the last seven (has 46 points in Games 1 and 2 of this series). In comparison, OKC’s “Big 3” of Durant, Westbrook and Harden is averaging 27.1-8.0-3.5, 23.7-4.9-4.8 and 18.4-5.3-3.0 this postseason, respectively. However, while Parker and Duncan get plenty of help from their fellow three starters, the same can’t be said for Durant and Westbrook’s fellow starters. While Ginobili leads a bench which has averaged a whopping 41.3

Only 14 teams in NBA playoff history have overcome 2-0 deficits to win a series but the Thunder are 5-0 SU at home this postseason and even with the Game 2 loss, are an impressive 15-4 SU following a defeat. Oklahoma City is favored by four points and the total is 206 1/2.

Good luck...Larry

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