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NBA Playoff Journal - Mon, Apr. 29

   by Larry Ness - 04/29/2013

NBA Playoff Journal (Monday, April 29)

My last journal was Friday afternoon and since then, we’ve seen the Heat and Spurs take out the Bucks and Lakers in four-game sweeps. The Heat won their four games by 23, 10, 13 and 11 points, failing to cover only Game 2, when the Bucks scored that game’s final SEVEN points to ‘steal’ the ATS win. Milwaukee ”big mouth” Brandon Jennings opened with 26 points in Game 1 but then the man who predicted the Bucks “to win in six,” averaged 9.0 PPG in Games 2-4, shooting 9-of-27 from the floor (24.3%), including 2-of-18 on threes.

The Spurs were even more dominant in their four-game sweep of the “sad-sack” Lakers, winning and covering Games 1 & 2 in San Antonio with 12 and 11-point wins, respectively but then blowing out LA in Staples Center Friday night 120-89 and 103-82 on Sunday night. LA’s injuries just kept piling up and the team had little chance in the weekend’s two games. However, Dwight Howard “put a cherry on the top” of his miserable season by ‘quitting’ on his team in the early third quarter, as his senseless technical foul (his second of the game), drew an automatic ejection (as if Howard wasn’t aware!).

The Celtics staved off elimination on Sunday, winning Game 4 in OT, 97-90. It was the team’s best effort of the series yet but it would be hard to ignore the fact that Boston had a huge second-half collapse for the THIRD time in four games. The Celtics took a 53-49 halftime lead in Game 1, only to lose 85-78, when they scored just 25 points in the entire second half (just EIGHT in the 4th quarter!). The same scenario played out again in Game 2. Boston led 48-42 at the half but then got outscored 32-11 in the third quarter and followed that with an 12-point fourth quarter. Boston would finish with just 23 second-half points, two less than in Game 1. Incredibly, the Celtics scored a grand total of just 48 points in the two second halves of Games 1 and 2, on 14-of-63 shooting (22.2%).

Boston led Game 4 by 54-35 at the half but again collapsed. The Knicks outscored them 30-14 in the third quarter and the game went into OT at 84-all. However, Terry scored NINE of his 18 points in the OT, as the Celtics won 97-90, setting up a Game 5 in New York on Wednesday. The Knicks got 36 from Anthony and 27 from Felton but clearly missed JR Smith, who was suspended for the game. Smith had averaged 16.3 PPG in the first three games of the series, l;eading a New York bench contributing 30.0 PPG. However, without Smith, the NY reserves added just seven points on Sunday.

Sunday’s late game was Golden State’s 115-101 win over Denver, which gives the sixth-seed Warriors a 3-1 series lead over the Nuggets. I’ll have much more on this series in Tuesday's journal, prior to Game 5. However, needless to say, the Nuggets look well on their way to losing in the first round for the NINTH time in 10 years!

There are three games on Monday’s schedule and a quick check of the playoff-to-date records, reveal the following. Home teams are 22-8 SU but just 16-14 ATS. Under bettors continue to own a slight edge but not by much, as we’ve had 13 overs, 16 unders and one push. Those following the Zig Zag theory got CRUSHED Friday through Saturday (you were forewarned!), going 2-9 ATS. After a 7-4 start, “Zig-Zaggers” check in at 9-13 ATS, or minus-5.3 net games (O-U-C-H!). TNT features a doubleheader tonight with the Bulls at the Nets at 7:05 ET (Chicago leas 3-1) and the Thunder at the Rockets at 9:35 ET (OKC leads 3-0). The NBA Network has the Pacers at the Hawks at 7:35 ET (Indiana leads 2-1).

We all know that just EIGHT teams have overcome a 3-1 deficit to win a best-of-seven NBA playoff series, so the Nets are in ‘hot water.” It’s been some series, as the Bulls led comfortably in Game 3 but went the final 5:46 of that game without a made FG (converted just two FTs) but hung on for a three-point win (Nets got the half-point cover). The teams then played a wide-open thriller in Game 4, one in which the Nets opened a 109-95 lead with just under three minutes left, only to be outscored 16-2 down the stretch, as the game went OT. In fact, it would go three OTs with the Bulls winning 142-134. Brooklyn is favored by 5 1/2 points with a total of 180 1/2.

in the second game on TNT, the Thunder will go for the third, 4-0 sweep of the 2013 playoffs. Game 3 was quite a ‘ride,’ as OKC led 39-19 after one quarter but the Rockets never gave up. Houston would actually take a 99-97 lead with 45 seconds left but OKC outscored Houston 7-2 the rest of the way. Durant finished with 41 points and 14 rebounds. OKC is a one-point choice in Game 4 (total is 206). The Hawks will look to even their series with the Pacers at 2-all, tonight on the NBA Network. The Pacers had averaged 110.0 PPG in its two home wins but Indiana was held to 69 points on 27.2% shooting (4-of-25 on threes) in Atlanta on Saturday, as the Hawks won 90-69. The Hawks have now won 12 straight in Atlanta over the Pacers, going 10-2 ATS with the two ATS losses coming by a point and a point-and-a-half! Will they get a ‘’lucky’ 13th straight win over the Pacers, tonight? Atlanta is favored by 1 1/2 points (total is 186).

Tuesday’s journal by 2:00 ET.

Good luck,...Larry

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