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NBA Playoff Journal -- May 22

   by Larry Ness - 05/22/2013

NBA Playoff Journal (Wednesday, May 22)

The West Finals began Sunday, with the Spurs blowing out the Grizzlies in Game 1, 105-83. San Antonio opened a 46-31 lead at the half in Game 2 last night and with about 7 1/2 minutes to go in the 4th, still led the Grizzlies, 83-70. However, the Grizzlies would outscore the Spurs 15-2 the rest of the way, with the game heading into OT at 85-all. There wasn’t much scoring in the extra period, and the Spurs came away with a 93-89 win, to take a 2-0 series lead. This is familiar territory for both teams. The Spurs led OKC 2-0 in last year’s West finals, only to lose the next four games and in the first round of TY’s postseason, the Grizzlies lost the first two games at Staples Center to the Clippers, before winning the next four games of that series.

All five San Antonio starters scored in double digits, with Duncan (17 & 9) and Parker (15 & 18 assists) leading the way. Splitter’s 14 points (on 6-of-8 shooting) were huge for the Spurs, matching his 2013 playoff-high in points, as he also had 14 in Game 6 vs the Warriors (Splitter is averaging a modest 6.2 PPG this postseason). Conley and Bayless (off the bench) each had 18 points for Memphis, while Randolph had 15 & 18 and Gasol 12 & 14. However, the five Memphis starters combined to shoot just 19-of-60, or 31.7 percent.

The Grizzlies are now 0-3 SU (1-2 ATS) in Game 1s this postseason but 8-3 SU in all other contests, with a remarkable 11-0 ATS mark! Home teams are currently 44-25 SU (.638) but just 33-36 ATS (47.8%), or minus-6.6 net games. There have been 32 overs, 35 unders and two pushes, while those following the Zig Zag theory have gone 28-28 or minus-2.8 net games. In a unique twist, “Zig-Zaggers” are 10-3 ATS in any Game 2 of a series this postseason (were 11-4 ATS last year in Game 2s), but only 18-25 ATS in all other games. The Spurs/Grizzlies Game 3 is set for Saturday in Memphis.

The East finals open tonight, as the Pacers visit Miami to take on the Heat at 8:35 ET on TNT. If experience counts, it all favors Miami. Wade and Haslem have been to five East finals in nine years with the Miami. For LBJ, it's a fifth trip to the East finals in the past seven years, three straight with Miami, after a pair of trips with Cleveland. For Ray Allen, it's a fourth East finals visit in six years, the first three coming with Boston. For the Pacers (in their first East finals since 2004), this is pretty much uncharted waters. Only one current Pacers player has ever appeared in a conference final game and that is backup big man Ian Mahinmi, who played a grand total of 71 seconds in one game of the 2011 West finals title with the Spurs but he didn't even attempt a shot.

The series price reflects the above, as Miami is about a 7-to-1 favorite to advance to a third consecutive NBA Finals. Miami has won 45 of its last 48 games but while the Heat are 4-1 SU at home this postseason, they are only 2-3 ATS. Of more concern here in Game 1 (Miami is an eight-point choice and the total is 182) is the fact that Miami had seven days off between eliminating the Bucks in round one and hosting the Bulls in Game 1 of the second round, then went out and lost 93-86, as 12-1/2 point favorites. The Heat have had six days off since eliminating the Bulls and one has to wonder if ‘rust’ could be a factor again.

For those looking to play the Pacers, it’s surely noteworthy to mention that while the Pacers are 6-0 SU and ATS this postseason at home (outscoring opponents on average, 101.2-to-87.2 PPG), they are 2-4 SU and ATS on the playoff road, losing on average, 91.7-to-82.8 PPG. Your move! My next playoff journal will be Friday at 2:00 ET, ahead of Game 2 of the Indiana/Miami series.

Good luck...Larry

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