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NBA Playoff Journal, April 23

   by Larry Ness - 04/23/2014

Monday night saw both teams down 0-1 even their respective series at one-all, as Memphis won in OT at Oklahoma City and the Clippers routed the Warriors at home. The first two games on Tuesday night followed a similar pattern, as the Pacers rebounded from their shocking Game 1 home loss to the Hawks winning 101-85 plus the Raptors played used strong play down the stretch to edge the Nets 100-95. However, while the Bulls overcame a big early deficit to enter the 4th quarter up 75-50 over the Wizards (Chicago outscored Washington 26-14 in the 3rd), the Wizards rallied late to force OT, then win 101-99 to take a 2-0 series lead (only series so far, not tied at one-all).

Indiana’s 31-13 third quarter was the big difference in the Pacers’ 16-point win last night. George was outstanding (27-10-6) and the Indiana bench totaled 48 points (Scola led the way with 20 & 7). The Hawks shot 50 percent in the first half when they scored 52 points but poor shooting and Indiana’s better defensive play held Atlanta to just 33 second-half points on 29.3 percent shooting. Teague and Millsap combined for 53 points in Atlanta's Game 1 win but had a total of just 33 points last night.

Toronto's DeRozan was a bust in Game 1 (3 of 13 shooting for only 14 points) but he scored 17 points in Toronto’s 36-point fourth quarter last night, finishing with a game-high 30 points. Amir Johnson had just two points and three rebounds in Game 1 but bounced back with 16 & 9 last night, connecting on 8 of 10 shots. How about Toronto center Valanciunus? He had 18 & 17 in his first-ever postseason game on Saturday and followed that by adding 15 & 14 in Game 2. The Nets “got away” with shooting just 4 of 24 on threes in Game 1 but another poor three-point shooting game did them in last night, as the team went 7 of 24 behind the arc, including a combined 2 of 16 by Johnson, Pierce and Williams!

The Wizards jumped out to a 17-point 1st quarter lead at Chicago but by the 4th quarter, actually trailed by as many as 10 points. However, Chicago couldn’t “close the door,” as Washington forced OT and then won, 101-99. Beal had 26 points and Nene added 17 & 7. Augustin had 27 & 7 assists for Chicago with Gibson (22 & 10) and Noah (20 & 12) also having good games but Chicago finds itself in big trouble, heading back to Washington down 0-2.

Home teams went 2-1 SU last night and 1-1-1 ATS (one could have won with Toronto at minus-4 1/2 as I did, but I’ll call it a push for these purposes). That makes home teams 6-7 SU overall, as well as a money-burning 4-8-1 ATS. Over bettors are smiling in the early going, as TWO of three games went over again last night (Atl/Ind just missed staying under the closing number by a half-point), making it nine overs and four unders Y-T-D. ”Zig-Zaggers” were 1-1-1 ATS on Tuesday, after a 2-0 Monday (3-1-1 so far).

Three more Game 2s are on tap tonight, with TNT again airing a doubleheader. The early game is Charlotte at Miami (Heat are 10 1/2-point favorites with a total of 187 1/2) and the late game is Portland at Houston (Rockets are favored by six points with a total of 214 1/2). The NBA Network has Dallas at San Antonio 8:05 ET (Spurs are eight-point favorites with a total of 199 1/2). The Bobcats are 13-4 the game after a SU loss since mid-January but Charlotte has lost 17

Most observers agreed prior to the start of the playoffs that the Houston/Portland series would be the best matchup of the first round and why not? Both teams finished the regular season 54-28 with Houston averaging 107.7 PPG and allowing 103.1, while Portland averaged 106.7 PPG and allowed 102.8. Game 1 met all expectations, as the Blazers won 122-120 in OT, led by Aldridge's 46 & 18 and Lillard’s 31-9-5! Harden (27) and Parsons (24) both scored points for Houston but shot a combined 6 of 25 on threes (24.0%), while Howard contributed 27 & 15 but had his usual free throw issues, going 7 of 19. Game 2 figures to be another excellent one.

As for the Mavs and Spurs, San Antonio held Dallas to just one made FG in the final seven minutes of the 4th quarter of Game 1, ‘escaping’ with a 90-85 win. A 14-0 San Antonio run wiped out an 81-71 Dallas lead. Nowitzki had 11 points on 4-of-14 shooting, his lowest point total in the playoffs in seven years. The San Antonio win was its 10th straight over Dallas. Will anything change in Game 2?

Good luck...Larry

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