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Playoff Journal, April 29
by Larry Ness - 04/29/2014
NBA Playoff Journal (April 29)
Monday produced more woes for the home teams, which lost all three games. Most should have been able to win on the Mavs (plus-4 .5), so I’ll call it 0-3 SU and 1-2 ATS for the home teams (complete recap of the first round to-date, shortly). The Heat trailed 54-52 at the half last night, as the Bobcats were game, playing without Al Jefferson (left plantar fascia strain). However, the Heat puled away with a 32-17 third quarter and that was all she wrote. Miami has now beaten Charlotte 20 straight times, 19 in a row since LBJ came to South Beach (he averaged 30-.0-8.0-6.0 for the series). The Bobcats have made the postseason just twice in franchise history (10-year span), getting swept each time in the first round.
The East’s No. 1 seed is officially in deep s#@t! Tied at 2-all, the Pacers took a 21-20 lead in Game 5 into the second quarter but got blitzed by the Hawks, who made 13 of 16 shots, including 9 of 11 three-pointers. After outscoring Indiana 41-19, Atlanta led 61-40 at the half and the Pacers were ‘toast.’ Mike Scott scored 17 points for the game (all came in the second quarter), while Mack led all scorers with 20 (like Scott, he also come soff the bench). The 38-44 Hawks lead 3-2 in the series despite playing without their best player (Al Horford was averaging 18.6 & 8.4 before being lost to an injury) and his replacement, Pero Antic, has contributed very little, as he’s averaging 3.4 & 3.4 this series.
Atlanta is now on the verge of becoming the 2nd-worst team in NBA history to win a best-of-seven playoff series (see Monday’s journal for details). The Hawks may not be able to get one more win (will get two cracks at it, Game 6 in Atlanta and a possible Game 7 at Indiana) but it’s hard to ignore the fact that the Pacers have never won a best-of-seven series when trailing 3-2, in team history (10 previous tries). Frank Vogel may not survive if Indiana loses this series and what do the Pacers do about Roy Hibbert’s ‘meltdown?’ He played VERY poorly the last month of the season but he’s taken that to an even lower level in the postseason, averaging just 4.8 PPG and 3.4 RPG this series, while shooting 10 of 32 (3.13%)!
The Spurs and Mavs played a second-straight down-to-the-wire contest last night, but this time around the top-seeded Spurs came out on top. Ginobili has 23, Diaw 17 and Mills 10, giving those three bench players 50 of the team's 93 points (starters scored the other 43). Dirk had 19 for Dallas and has now failed to reach 20 points in ANY of the first four games of this series (only time that’s happened since his first postseason back in 2001). Vince Carter, Dallas’ Game 3 hero, shot just 2 of 9 with eight points plus Devin Harris, after averaging 18.5 PPG in the first two games of this series, has now scored just seven points the last two games, combined.
When all the dust had settled last night, home teams stood at 14-19 SU, giving them a hard-to-believe win percentage of just .424. Home teams are only 11-19-3 ATS or 36.7% (minus-9.9 net games!). Over bettors continue to wake up each morning with a smile on their face, as through 33 games, there have been 22 overs and just 11 unders (a 67% win rate). “Zig-Zaggers” went 1-2 ATS last night (got a half-point cover for the lone win on Dallas) but remain 14-8-2 ATS this postseason (plus-5.2 net games).
Three more series resume Tuesday, although the NBA’s 2:00 ET announcement regarding Donald Sterling’s comments will likely dominate the headlines (stay tuned). Getting back to action on the court, the TNT doubleheader features Washington at Chicago at 8:05 ET (Bulls are favored by four points / total of 183) and Golden St at the LA Clippers (Clippers are favored by six points / total is 209). The NBA Network has Memphis at Oklahoma City (9:05 ET), where the Thunder are favored by seven points (total is 186 1/2).
Memphis/OKC and Gold St/LAC series are tied two-all, and as always, the Game 5 winner will have “history on its side” to go on to win those respective series. I ‘loved’ the Warriors in Game 4 but there is too much outside stuff going on for me to make a play on tonight’s Game 5. As for the Grizzlies and Thunder, after a 14-point win by OKC in Game 1, the last three games have all gone into OT. Washington leads Chicago 3-1 in the “other” game of the night and history tells us that just EIGHT teams have come back to win a best-of-seven series in NBA playoff history, under these circumstances. Washington will have a chance to do something it hasn’t done often, since losing in the 1979 finals to Seattle. It's been mostly “one-and-done” in the playoffs since that time for the Wizards (previously the Bullets), with two exceptions. They knocked off New Jersey 2-0 in the first round in 1982 and took out Chicago 4-2 in 2005 after dropping the first two games. The team’s other 10 playoff appearances (since 1979) have all resulted in first-round exits.