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Thursday Playoff Journal

   by Larry Ness - 04/25/2013

NBA Playoff Journal (Thursday, April 25)

After a 29-point win in Game 1 of their series with the Rockets, the Thunder broke away from Houston in the late third quarter and early fourth, to open a 15-point lead with about 9 1/2 minutes to go. However, it was at point that Houston went on a 21-2 run and with about 3 1/2 minutes left, led 95-91. Upset plans were spoiled though, as Durant’s three-pointer with 2 1/2 minutes left gave OKC a 98-97 lead, one which it didn’t give up in a 105-102 victory. Harden scored 36 for Houston but note he made just 2-of-18 shots from 15-feet or beyond (converted 17-of-20 FTs). Durant and Westbrook each had 29 for the Thunder, although they combined to shoot only 39.2 percent from the floor.

The Pacers easily took care of the Hawks in Game 2, winning 113-98. That follows a 107-90 win in Game 1, as Indiana, a team which relied on its defense all season long, has now averaged 110.0 PPG in its two wins. All five Indiana starters scored in double digits in Game 1 (led by George’s triple double of ) and George again led way in Game 2, scoring 27 with eight rebounds. PG Hill added 22, while center Hibbert had 15 & 9. Indiana’s bench also played a big part last night, contributing 38 points. The series now shifts to Atlanta, where the Hawks have won 11 straight over the Pacers.

The final game of the night saw the Spurs take care of the Lakers again, this time in a 102-91 final. Much like in Game 1 (a 91-79 San Antonio win), the Spurs never seemed in danger of losing, even though they’ve never really blown the Lakers out (Spurs have closed as 8 1/2-point favorites in both games, each time earning the ATS win). LA can’t guard Tony Parker and he led the Spurs with 28 points (15 in the third quarter), plus Duncan (16 & 5) and Leonard (16 & 7) each had solid games. Ginobili again played an important role off the bench, helping the Spurs to close out the first quarter on a 13-4 run and the second quarter on a 10-3 run (he finished with 13 points in 19 minutes).

Last night’s three games concluded the first group of 16 games, in which the higher seed played at home. Home teams are 14-2 SU but only 9-7 ATS. There have been seven overs and nine unders, while those following the Zig Zag theory are off to a 5-3 ATS start. However, as I’ve noted, Game 2s of any playoff series are usually good to “Zig-Zaggers,” as last year they went 11-4 ATS in all Game 2s. That means they’ll have to go 6-1 the rest of the way to match that this year (tough sledding).

All eight series now shift venues, were the lower-seeded team will play at home for the next set of two games (16 in all). Six of the eight series sit a 2-0, meaning six teams find themselves in “must-win” situations in their respective Game 3s. The reason for this is simple. NO team has ever rallied from an 0-3 deficit to win a best-of-seven series in NBA playoff history. It’s three games on tap Thursday night, with both halves of the TNT doubleheader featuring games in which the home team is down 0-2.

Miami is at Milwaukee at 7:00 ET on TNT and the Bucks are 7 1/2-point home dogs (1st home underdog situation of TY’s postseason, although it looks like LA will join them on Friday) and the total is 195. Can the Bucks win (or cover) against the defending champs, who enter this contest having won 39of their last 41 games, including the last 10 in a row? TNT’s second game is the Clippers at the Grizzlies. This series went seven games last year but for that to happen again, the Grizzlies just may have to win both games here in Memphis. That’s surely not out of the question, as the Grizzlies ended the regular season with 14 wins in their last 15 home games (32-9 on the year). Memphis is favored by 4 1/2 points and the total is 179 1/2.

The NBA Network gets the Nets/Bulls Game 3 at 8:30 ET. This is one of the two series tied at one-all, as the Bulls won Game 2 in Brooklyn 90-82, after getting blown out 106-89 in Game 1. Both Chicago’s Noah and Brooklyn’s Johnson are suffering from
plantar fasciitis (Noah in his right foot and Johnson in his left), although both are listed as probable. Chicago is favored by 3 1/2 points and the total is 181 1/2. Friday’s journal will be available at 2:00 ET.

Good luck...Larry

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