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NBA Playoff Journal - Wed. May 1

   by Larry Ness - 05/01/2013

NBA Playoff Journal (Wednesday,May 1)

Home teams ruled in Monday’s three games (3-0 SU & ATS) but while home teams did manage a 1-1 split on Tuesday, neither home side covered. The Nuggets, with their backs to the wall, jumped on the Warriors early, opening a 36-22 first quarter lead. It was 66-46 by halftime but the Warriors kept chipping away at Denver’s lead, closing within five points a few times in the final quarter, the last time at 100-95 with 1:39 to go. However, Denver staved off elimination with a 107-100 win, but losing ATS by a half-point.

Denver got physical with Curry (Mark Jackson is crying foul) but the bottom line turned out to be that Curry, after averaging 30.0 PPG in three straight Golden St wins, was held to a series-low 15 points on 7-of-19 shooting (1-of-7 on threes). After shooting 64.6, 52.5 and 55.7% in Games 2-4, the Warriors connected on 43.2% last night. All five Denver starters scored in double digits with Iquodala having his best game of the series (25-12-7) plus Lawson and Chandler each scoring 19. The series returns to Oakland Thursday, with the Warriors up 3-2 in games, while posting a 5-0 ATS mark in the series.

The Clippers and Grizzlies played a seven-game series in last year’s first round but when the Clippers won the first two games at Staples Center this year, many wondered if the Grizzlies were up to the challenge this year. There are no doubters now, as the “the Grizz” returned to Memphis to win Games 3 and 4 by 12 and 21 points, respectively. Memphis then returned to LA last night and won impressively, 103-93. Randolph (25 & 11), Gasol (21 & 8) and Conley (20) led the way, as the Clippers were just flat outplayed.

Paul had 35 points and Crawford 15 off the bench, accounting for 50 percent of the team's made FGs (17 of 34) and 54% of the team's points (50 of 93). The series now shifts to Memphis for Thursday's Game 6, where the Grizzlies have won 16 of their last 17! Home teams are now 26-9 SU and 19-16 ATS on the postseason. Over/under bettors remain right at the “Mendoza Line” (17-17-1), while “Zig-Zaggers” continue to lose money. An 0-2 Tuesday leaves them 11-16 ATS this postseason, minus-6.6 net games. There are three Game 5s on tap for Wednesday, a TNT doubleheader of Boston at New York (7:05 ET) and Houston at Oklahoma City (9:35 ET), plus the NBA Network has Atlanta at Indiana at 8:05 ET.

The Knicks lead the series 3-1 and get the suspended JR Smith back from his one-game suspension. The Knicks have limited Boston to an average of 77.3 points in regulation in the series, with the Celtics struggling in the second half, scoring more than 30 points just once in the four games. As for the Knicks, who were the Eastern Conference’s second-highest scoring team during the regular season (100.0 PPG, to Miami's 102.9), they have yet to top 90 points in any game, getting exactly 90- in Games 3 and 4 (needing OT!). Has it been a “defensive series,” or is it just bad offense? New York is favored by nine points and the total is 180 1/2.

The Hawks returned home down 0-2 in their series with the Pacers, after Indiana averaged 110.0 PPG. However, the Hawks went to a bigger lineupop (opposite of what the Warriors have done vs Denver) and held the Pacers to 69 and 91 points, while Indiana shot 27.2% (Game 3) and 38.1% (Game 4), including a combined 22.9% on threes. The two wins give the Hawks 13 straight over the Pacers in Atlanta (11-2 ATS). However, this game is back in Indiana and the Hawks are a woeful 21-84 on the postseason road since moving to Atlanta back in 1968. More recent records show the Hawks 4-21 SU (7-18 ATS) on the playoff road the last six postseasons (and counting???). Indiana is favored by seven points with a total of 187 1/2.

The Thunder blew out the Rockets in Game 1, 120-91. However, this series has since seen three consecutive tight, exciting games, highlighted by dramatic swings in momentum, as the teams have traded HUGE runs. The Houston Rockets came awfully close in Games 2 and 3, losing both by only three points, before finally breaking into the win column in Game 4 by the score of 105-103. Harden may be averaging 25.3 PPG for the series but he’s shooting only 36.4% overall, including an AWFUL 4-of-25 (16.0%) on threes. Harden was almost ‘the goat’ of Game 5, as with two chances to extend Houston's lead with less than a minute left, he missed both shots, including shooting an air ball. He had 10 TOs for the game, leading to the following quote, afterwards. "I did have a double-double," he deadpanned, referring to his points and turnovers. For Houston to win, Harden will have to be great (but maybe not for them to cover). One imagines Durant will bring his “A-game,” as he’s had 41 and 38-point efforts since Westbrook went out. OKC is favored by 8 1/2 points total is 207 1/2).

Good luck...Larry

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