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NBA Playoff Journal, April 25

   by Larry Ness - 04/25/2014

Home teams have struggled ATS to open the 2014 playoffs but made a bit of a comeback last night, going 2-1 SU and a PERFECT 3-0 ATS. The Pacers’ road woes continued last night, losing 98-85 in Atlanta. The Hawks turned a one-point half time lead into a 13-point win by winning the third quarter 28-20 and the 4th, 31-27. The Pacers’ Roy Hibbert continues to ‘implode,’ as he’s now averaging a woeful 6.0 PPG in the series (on 7 of 25 shooting) while also grabbing only 4.7 RPG. Hibbert’s poor play has become a staple for Indiana this last month or so but the Pacers CAN’T win if George shoots 3 of 11 and Hill 1 of 11, as they did last night. Teague had 22 points and 10 assists for Atlanta, Korver 20 points (made 4 of 7 three-pointers) and Millsap added a double-double (14 & 14).

The Grizzlies led the Thunder 81-64 with about 7 1/2 minutes to go but got outscored 21-4 the rest of the way, as OKC forced OT. However, Memphis survived 98-95, giving the Grizzlies a 15th straight home win and making them 6-1 in OT games vs the Thunder since the start of the 2010-11 season. PG Conley led the way with 20 points and Randolph added 16 & 10. Off the bench, Allen had 16 and Udrih 12. Durant had 30, as did Westbrook for OKC (Ibaka chipped in 12 & 5) but the rest of the team scored only 23 points. Nine points came from OKC’s reserves, who combined to shoot 4 of 18. Again, is OKC really an NBA title contender?

Blake Griffin was roundly ripped for his Game 1 performance and antics (fouled out while playing just 19 minutes plus had the ‘water cup’ incident) but he’s sure silenced critics since then, scoring a playoff career-high 35 in Game 1 (no fouls in 30 minutes) and then going for 32 last night, as the Clippers escaped with a 98-96 win to gain back the home court edge. Center Jordan had 14 & 22 and is averaging 12.0 PPG, 15.0 RPG and 5.0 BPG in the series (think the Warriors miss Bogut?). The Clippers led by 11 points with 8 1/2 minutes remaining and by eight with 1 1/2 minutes left but needed to survive a three-pointer by Curry in the final seconds. The Warriors made just 6 of 31 three-pointers, as Curry and Thompson combined to make only 5 of 19 (that WON’T cut it for Golden St!).

Thursday’s results leave home teams 9-10 SU this postseason and still a poor 7-11-1 ATS. “Zig-Zaggers” are off to a good start (will it hold?), going 7-3-1 ATS or plus 3.7 net games. Over bettors were fortunate to cash one of three ‘tickets’ last night (needed OKC/Mem to go into OT to win) but are sitting pretty after 19 games, with 13 overs opposed to just six unders. The ESPN family of networks will cover tonight’s three games. ESPN2 has Toronto at Brooklyn while ESPN’s doubleheader starts with Chicago at Washington and follows with Houston at Portland.

It’s safe to say the the Bulls and Rockets, after each team lost BOTH home games to open their respective series, are in “must win” situations tonight. Both visiting teams are three-point underdogs, with the Chicago/Washington total checking in at 182 1/2 and the Houston/Portland total at 214 1/2. The Raptors/Nets series is tied at one-all and the atmosphere figures to be raucous at Barclays Center after all the intensity of the first two games, both ON and OFF the court. The Nets are favored by five points (total is 191 1/2).

I resume my Playoff Journal Monday by 2:00 ET. Have a great weekend.

Good luck...Larry

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