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NBA Playoff Journal -- Friday, April 26

   by Larry Ness - 04/26/2013

NBA Playoff Journal (Friday, April 26)

Thursday night featured three Game 3s, with two of the series featuring home teams trying to avoid falling into an 0-3 ‘hole.’ Both of those games were on TNT, as the Heat took on the Bucks in Milwaukee and the Clippers were in Memphis to take on the Grizzlies (both visitors led 2-0 in games). The Bucks played hard (and well) against the Heat to open the game but in the end, Miami was just too good for Milwaukee. How much better is Miami? Wade made just 1-of 12 shots (four points), yet the Heat would win going away, 104-91.The Heat have now won 11 straight and 40 of their last 42 games.

Highlights for Miami were it closing 23-7 at the end of the third quarter, which basically ended any drama. LBJ had a ’quiet’ 22 points, while Allen added 23 points. He had five three-pointers and now owns the all-time record for playoff three-pointers with 322, two more than Reggie Miller. Chris Anderson continues to be a major force for the Heat, adding 11 points on 5-of-5 from the floor. He’s averaging 10.3 PPG and 6.3 RPG in just 14 MPG. Milwaukee’s backcourt has been crushed by the Heat. Jennings and Ellis combined for 48 points in Game 1 but then combined to score just 38 points in Games 2 and 3 combined, while making only 12-of-46 FGs (26.1 percent).

The second game on TNT was the Clippers/Grizzlies and Zach Randolph (27 & 11, after averaging 13.0 & 6.0 in the 1st two games), led the way in a 94-82 Memphis win. Memphis has won with defense all season long but it was a strength which had alluded them in LA. The Clippers scored 112 points on 55.4% shooting in Game 1 and scored 93 points on 47.4% shooting in Game 2. Memphis would have none of that last night, holding LA to 82 points on 38.8% shooting. Memphis has now won 15 of its last 16 home games and will need to make it 16 of 17 on Saturday, in order to even the series.

The NBA Network televised Game 3 of Brooklyn/Chicago, a series which was tied one-all. The Nets opened the game on a 13-2 run but would trail by the end of the first quarter, 19-17. Chicago led at the half and took a 65-52 lead into the 4th quarter. A victory seemed all but assured for Chicago with just under six minutes to go but the Bulls would not make a single FG attempt over the game’s final 5:46 (and only two FTs), barely hanging on in a 79-76 win (Nets covered at plus-3 1/2). Boozer, not known as a primetime playoff performer in the past, had 22 & 16 (is averaging 20.0 & 12.0 in the series), while Deng added 21 & 10. Chicago can still play “D’ under head coach Tom Thibodeau and it’s that defense which has turned this series. Brooklyn scored 106 points on 55.8% shooting in Game 1 but has been held to 79.0 PPG on 35.0 percent shooting the last two games, including 9-of-42 or 21.4% on threes.

Home teams were 2-1 SU but 1-2 ATS last night, giving them a 16-3 start in the 2013 playoffs, but just 10-9 ATS. Two of Thursday’s games went under and I’ll call the Mia/Mil game a push. That leaves us with seven overs, 11 unders and one push through 19 games. “Zig-Zaggers” went 2-1 and stand at 7-4 this postseason. ESPN takes over the TV air waves tonight, with a doubleheader (New York at Boston at 7:00 ET and San Antonio at LA at 10:30 ET). ESPN2 has Denver at Golden St at 10:30 ET. Both New York and San Antonio lead 2-0 but while the Knicks are 2 1/2-point underdogs at Boston (total is 184), the Spurs are 5 1/2-point favorites in LA (total is 186 1/2). The key in the late game being that not only is Kobe out, but so is Blake (14.0 PPG the 1st two games) plus Nash and Meeks are listed as doubtful. I wonder if West and Goodrich are available?

The Nuggets/Warriors series is tied at one-all and Game 3 is a pick’em (total is 210 1/2). The Warriors won by 14 in Game 2 at Denver, despite playing without David Lee, who is done for the season. Curry hurt is ankle in the latter part of Golden St’s big win and he is listed as probable but one gets the feeling the ‘money’ will be on Denver in this one. That said, it’s hard to ignore the fact that the Nuggets have been eliminated in the first round in EIGHT of the last nine postseasons.. My journal returns on Monday (April 29) at 2:00 ET.

Good luck, Larry

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