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NBA Playoff Journal, April 22

   by Larry Ness - 04/22/2014

It was a night of “bounce-backs” in the 2014 playoffs Monday night. Although the Grizzlies squandered a nine-point fourth-quarter lead (as well as a five-point lead with just 19 seconds remaining!), Memphis survived an OT period last night at Oklahoma City, earning an 111-105 win. Four of five Memphis starters scored in double digits (should we even count Prince as a starter these days?), led by Randolph’s 25 & 6 and Conley’s 19 and 12 assists. Is OKC really an NBA title contender? Durant (36 & 11) and Westbrook (29-7-8) are clearly a dynamic duo but throw in Ibaka (15 & 11) and those three accounted for 76% of OKC’s points in Game 2. In Game 1, the trio scored 73 of OKC’s 100 points (not sure what that percentage was?).

Blake Griffin was roundly criticized for his Game 1 “no-show,” when he played just 19 minutes and fouled out. However, he made amends in Game 2, scoring a playoff career-high 35 points, playing 30 minutes without a single foul. FOUR of LA’s starters scored in double digits (Redick had nine), while the bench had a field day in ‘garbage time,’ as Granger scored 15, Turkoglu 13 and Collision added a double-double (12 & 10). Chris Paul had 12 points and 10 assists, improving his record with the Clippers to 7-12 in the postseason. He was 10-13 at New Orleans, not exactly impressive numbers, are they? The Warriors shot just 4 of 19 on threes, as Curry had 20 of his 24 points in the third quarter while Thompson (7 points) and Lee (11 & 4) were both ineffective with each player logging just 20 minutes.

Home teams are 4-6 SU to open the 2014 postseason, going a money-burning 3-7 ATS. Both games went over last night, leaving over bettors smiling and 7-3 after 10 contests. “Zig-Zaggers” were ‘money’ last night, as both Game 1 losers bounced back with wins and covers in their respective Game 2s. There are three more Game 2s set for tonight, as Atlanta is at Indiana (7:00 ET) and Washington at Chicago (9:30 ET) on TNT’s doubleheader. The NBA network will carry Brooklyn at Toronto at 7:30 ET. In each series, the visiting teams ‘stole’ their respective Game 1s, putting all three home teams in “must win” situations tonight. However, “must win” doesn’t mean “will win” and in each case, the home team will have to win “by a margin” to earn the ATS win.

No team is more desperate than the Pacers. The NBA Playoff Fact Book tells us that it would be historic if either Indiana or Miami turned things around and went on to win the NBA title in 2014.. The Pacers went 12-13 over their last 25 regular season games while the Heat were just 11-14. Only two teams in NBA history finished with a sub .500 record over their last 25 games of the regular season and then went on to win the title (1957-58 Hawks and 1994-95 Rockets). However, on the other side of that coin in this Atlanta /Indiana series we have the following factoid.

The 8th-seeded Hawks went 38-44 in the regular season and since the playoffs expanded to 16 teams in 1983-84, teams that entered the postseason with a sub .500 record are just 2-40 in playoff series. The 1986-87 SuperSonics (.476 win percentage) were the only team to win a series, defeating the Mavericks in the First Round and Rockets in the Conference Semifinals. Indiana comes in as 7 1/2-point favorites (total is 186 1/2). As for the other two games/series, it’s said Washington wanted Chicago and Brooklyn ‘tanked’ to get Toronto. Maybe so and so far so good for those two teams, as each won their respective Game 1s on the road. The Bulls are favored by 5 1/2 points (181 1/2) to even the series at one-all, while the Raptors are favored by 4 1/2 points (190) in their Game 2.

Good luck...Larry

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