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Sunday NBA Journal

   by Larry Ness - 05/19/2013

NBA Playoff Journal (Sunday, May 19)

The Knicks/Pacers series was lagging a little behind the others, as it was the last to wrap up in the second round. Game 6 was last night at Bankers Life Fieldhouse and was the most entertaining of the series. The Pacers finally subdued the Knicks 106-99, taking the series 4-2. The victory sends the Pacers to their first Eastern Conference final since 2004 and gives them a rematch with the Miami Heat, who beat the Pacers in last year’s second round. I’ll have much more to say about that series in future journals (series doesn’t begin until Wednesday).

Anthony scored 35 points in the first three quarters last night but had “nothing left” in the 4th quarter, scoring only four points on 2-of-7 shooting, along with two turnovers. An 11-2 run in that final period rallied the Pacers to the victory, with Lance Stephenson scoring nine points in that run and finishing with a playoff career-high of 25 points (plus 10 rebounds). Paul George had a line of 23-5-4, David West had 17-5-4 and center Roy Hibbert finished with 21 points, 12 rebounds and five blocks, none bigger than the stuff on Anthony that just may have been the game-changer at about the five-minute mark.

New York’s 99-point effort was the team’s best scoring output this postseason on the road (had scored 71 & 82 points in Games 3 & 4 at Indiana) but in the end, it wasn't enough. The Knicks shot better from three-point range last night (13-30) and were 18-of-18 from the free-throw line but outside of ‘Melo’s 39 points, only Shumpert (19) and J.R. Smith (15) reached double digits and Smith was again putrid from the floor (4-of-15). Indiana’s win (Pacers are 6-0 SU & ATS at home this postseason) gave home teams a 13-9 SU and 10-12 ATS record in the second round. There were 9 overs, 12 unders and a push, while those following the Zig Zag theory went 11-7 ATS (won with Indiana last night).

Through the 2013 postseason’s first two rounds, home teams are 42-25 SU (.627) but just 32-35 ATS (47.8%), or minus-6.5 net games. There have been 30 overs, 35 unders and two pushes, while those following the Zig Zag theory have gone 27-28 or minus-3.8 net games, as the 2013 playoffs move into the conference finals. The West Finals begin Sunday (3:30 ET on ABC), as the Grizzlies visit the Spurs. The Spurs are favored by 4 1/2 points in Game 1, with a total of 182 1/2. San Antonio opened at minus-$1.20 to win the series but has been bet up to minus-$1.45.

The Spurs have won four titles since 1999 but the last one came back in 2007. As for the Grizzlies, the former expansion franchise that started off in Vancouver before moving to Memphis, has come a long way. The Grizzlies started by setting the NBA record for postseason futility while losing their first 12 playoff games but the Grizzlies now find themselves in the franchise’s first-ever conference finals, entering on an 8-2 SU and 10-0 ATS run! I’ve written this before in my playoff journal, that “right before our eyes,” we’ve seen the dawning of a new “Big 3” in the 2013 playoffs.

Many would have argued before the postseason began that Memphis owned the best inside duo in the league with Randolph and Gasol but now in this year’s postseason, PG Conley has joined that duo to form the Grizzlies’ own version of a “Big 3.” Randolph is averaging 19.7 & 9.3 this postseason with Gasol going for 18.3 & 7.9, while Conley has developed into a “prime time performer,” averaging 17.6-4.8-7.6. The Spurs have their own version of a “Big 3,” with Parker (22.4-4.1-6.3), Duncan (18.7-9.2) and Ginobili (12.1-4.2-5.7), who now always comes off the bench. That trio has been the core of San Antonio’s last three title teams, although this group hasn’t won since 2007. The ‘fun’ begins later today.

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