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NBA Playoff Journal -- Memorial Day Edition

   by Larry Ness - 05/27/2013

The Pacers proved they could play with the defending champs in Game 1 (an OT loss) and then shocked the defending champs by winning Game 2 in Miami, 97-93, to ‘steal away’ the home court edge. However, Miami reasserted its dominance last night, in an impressive 18-point victory. In a shockingly high scoring first half (especially to under players who were ‘dead’ early on in this one), the Heat took a 70-56 lead at the break. Miami then beat back a handful of Indiana runs, winning “with room to spare,” 114-96.

All five Miami starters scored in double digits, led by LBJ’s 22, who also played some ‘shut-down’ defense down low for the Heat. Wade added 18 and Bosh 15 but the real surprises came in Haslem and Chalmers combining to score 31 points on 12-of-15 shooting. Haslem had scored just three points in the first two games (on 1-of-7 shooting), while Chalmers had totaled a modest 16 points. Andersen was again a factor, making all four FG attempts in scoring nine points and adding nine rebounds in his 22 minutes (how ‘big’ has this guy been?).

The Heat shot 54.5 percent as a team against an Indian defense which entered the postseason with the league's No. 1 defensive field goal percentage (42.0%), best defensive three-point percentage (32.7%) and the league's second-best scoring defense (90.7 PPG). However, there may still be some concern for Miami. The Heat have to be worried about the lack of production from the trio of Allen, Battier and Cole. That trio was a combined 2-of-16 (12.5 percent) from the floor, including 1-of-9 on threes in Game 1 and nearly duplicated that in Game 2, making a combined 3-of-14, including 1-7 on threes. The trio shot a combined 4-of-13 in Game 3 (4-of-10 on threes) but did score 18 points, the exact same number of points it combined for in Games 1 & 2. We’ll see.

The Pacers got to the free throw line 44 times in Game 3 (Miami made it there just 28 times) but Indiana missed 14 FTs (68.2%), while the Heat connected on 24, for 85.6%. That’s too many missed FTs, especially when your team shoots 39.7 percent from the floor. West had 21 & 10, Hibbert 20 & 17 and Hill 19. However, George, Stephenson and even Hibbert, combined to make just 9-of-32 shots (28.2 percent). That WON’T get it done vs the defending champs. Indiana, like Memphis on Saturday night, lost for the first time this postseason at home, as the Pacers entered last night’s game 6-0 SU & ATS this postseason, outscoring opponents on average, 101.2-to-87.2 PPG.

Then again, Miami is now 5-0 SU & ATS on the playoff road in 2013, outscoring opponents on average, 99.6-to-84.6 PPG. The Heat have now won 47 of their last 51 games, including 23 of 24 on the road. Road success has been the theme of the conference finals to-date, especially when talking pointspreads (is there anything else, noteworthy?). Home teams are now 3-3 SU but a ‘money-burning’ 1-5 ATS in the conference finals with all FIVE games going over the total Those following the Zig Zag theory are 2-1 so far and find themselves 30-29 or minus-1.9 net games in the 2013 postseason. Home teams are 45-28 (.616) overall, but a losing 33-40 ATS, or minus-11.0 net games. Overs have overtaken (pardon the pun) unders, 36-35 with two pushes.

Game 4 of the San Antonio-Memphis series is set for 9:00 ET tonight, on ESPN. The Spurs lead 3-0 and the previous 107 teams to have taken a 3-0 series lead in a best-of-seven NBA playoff series, have all gone on to capture those series. The Grizzlies came out in Game 3 like all backers hoped they would. In an 0-2 ‘hole,’ Game 3 was a “must win” and Memphis took a 29-13 lead at the end of the first quarter. However, by the half, the Spurs had closed to 44-40. The second half was tight all the way and both teams had opportunities to win in regulation. However, for the second straight game, the Spurs and Grizzlies would need an OT period to decide things. And, for a second straight time, the Spurs would come out on top.

Tim Duncan was the key in Game 2’s OT period and he opened Game 3’s extra session by scoring its first five points. Duncan scored seven of his 24 points in the OT period, Parker five of 26 and Splitter had six of his 11 in OT. Those three accounted for all of San Antonio’s OT points, as the Grizzlies scored just seven points, in losing by 11 points. Gasol had 16 & 14 and Randolph 14 & 15 but neither player dominated. The bottom line was, the Spurs shot 50.0 percent and Memphis just 39.2 percent (as well as missing eight of 18 FTs).

Time is running out on San Antonio’s current Big Three, featuring Tim Duncan, Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili (had 19 points in Game 3, after totaling 15 in the 1st two games) along with head coach Gregg Popovich. The franchise is in its 16th straight postseason and has four NBA titles but hasn't played in the Finals since 2007. Finishing off the Grizzlies tonight would be HUGE but let’s not forget that Memphis is 19-2 SU its last 21 at home. Do the Grizzlies have a big effort (or more) left? Memphis is favored by 2 1/2 points and the total is 180.

Good luck...Larry

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