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Playoff Journal - May 28

   by Larry Ness - 05/28/2013

NBA Playoff Journal (Tuesday, May 28)

The Spurs beat the Grizzlies last night 93-86 and San Antonio is off to the NBA Finals for the first time since winning its fourth title back in 2007. The Spurs met the LBJ-led Cavs that year and swept them, 4-0. It’s possible, the Spurs will get the LBJ-led Heat this time around, depending on how the East Finals play out (Heat lead 2-1 with Game 4, tonight). The core of the Spurs remains the same from the 2007 team, featuring Duncan, Ginobili and Parker. However, it’s now Parker, not Duncan, who is San Antonio’s “main man.”

Parker scored a personal 2013 playoff-high 37 points last night, making 15-of-21 from the floor while adding a 6-of-6 night from the free throw line. Duncan added 15 & 8 while Ginobili had just six points (1-of-6 from the floor). Ginobili did not have a good series vs the Grizzlies, as he scored almost as many points in Game 3 (19), as he did in the other three games combined (21). However, the Spurs have a deep group of complimentary players plus Parker completely dominated his PG matchup with Conley, averaging 24.5 PPG and 9.5 APG (shot 53.2%) to Conley’s 15.3 PPG and 5.8 APG (shot 38.3%).

After winning Games 1 and 2 at home, the Spurs went to Memphis where the Grizzlies had won 19 of previous last 20, including 5-0 SU and ATS in the postseason, and shot 50.0 percent in Game 3 and 51.1 percent in Game 4. I guess the Spurs aren’t “too old,” after all. The Grizzlies shot under 40 percent in both home games in this series and neither Randolph (11.0 & 12.0) nor Gasol (14.3 & 10.0) were major factors in any game of this series. With last night’s Memphis loss, home teams fell to 3-4 SU and a woeful 1-6 ATS in the conference finals. Monday’s game went under, the first of seven games to do so this round. Those following the Zig Zag theory lost with the Grizzlies and are now 3-2 in this round.

Home teams are 45-29 SU this postseason (.608) and a very poor 33-41 ATS (44.6%), which is minus-12.1 net games. There have been 36 overs, 36 unders and two pushes (can’t make that up) and “Zig Zaggers” are 30-30 ATS, or minus-3.0 net games. Game 4 of the East Finals goes tonight at 8:30 ET on TNT. The Heat lead the series 2-1 and are favored by 2 1/2 points, with a total of 184 1/2.

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 in Game 3 with an impressive 18-point victory. In a shockingly high scoring first half, 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, as he’s now 15-of-15 from the floor in his last four games?). The Heat shot 54.5 percent as a team against an Indiana 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 still has to be some concern for Miami 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.

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 lost for the first time this postseason at home, as the Pacers entered Sunday’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. That sets the stage for Game 4.

Good luck...Larry

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