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NBA Playoff Journal, May 2

   by Larry Ness - 05/02/2014

All three teams facing elimination last night survived, setting up three, Game 7s on Saturday. The Pacers (East’s No. 1 seed) forced a Game 7 with some clutch play down the stretch although quite frankly, the Hawks basically “spit out the bit” last night. Teague’s jumper a with 3:15 left in the game gave Atlanta an 84-79 lead but the Hawks unraveled after that. Atlanta’ ONLY basket during the game’s final three minutes came on a Williams’ layup (part of a three-point play) with 12 seconds remaining. However, the game was over by then, as the Pacers would outscore the Hawks 16-4 after trailing 84-79. Did the Hawks miss their “best chance” at putting Indiana away?

The headlines coming out of Oklahoma City prior to Game 6 screamed, “Mr Unreliable,” in reference to the likely league-MVP. Durant and his teammates responded with a 56-41 halftime lead over the Grizzlies, pretty much erasing any chance that a FIFTH straight game in this series would go into OT. The Thunder (the West’s No. 2 seed) never looked back in a 104-84 win, as Durant scored 36 points (critics may point out that he was 0 of 6 on threes?), while Westbrook chipped in 25-9-5. The Grizzlies played an AWFUL offensive game, shooting 37.3% overall, including a dismal 4 of 17 on threes. Starting guards Conley and Lee were 4 of 17 from the floor, totaling only NINE points. Like Atlanta, did Memphis lose its best chance to win this series? Let’s NOT forget though, that both the Hawks and Grizzlies have won TWO of their three road games so far!

The Clippers and Warriors are also headed for a Game 7, as Golden St held on to edge LA, 100-99. The Warriors led 96-89 with just over two minutes left but almost let the game get away. Barnes’ hit an improbable three-pointer with just under two seconds left (cutting it to 100-99) and Curry was fouled immediately. However, the man who has converted 89.6% of his free throws in 336 career regular season games, missed them BOTH! It may have mattered to some, as while the Clippers began the day as a 1 1/2-point choice, they closed (some places) as a one-point dog. Curry led the Warriors with 24 but efforts by Iquodala (15) and Green (14 & 14), were huge,. Note that Iquodala has now averaged 18.3 PPG the last three games, after averaging just 7.7 PPG the first three. Green, inserted in the starting lineup for Game 4, now has back-to-back double-doubles (24 points and 25 rebounds).

Heading into tonight’s three, Game 6 contests, home teams are 19-23 SU, a winning percentage of .452. Home teams are a ‘money-burning’ 14-25-3 ATS (35.9%) or minus-13.5 net games. “Zig-Zaggers,” who have rarely shown a profit for some time now in the NBA postseason, are “stuffing their pockets,” at the moment, as last night’s 3-0 mark made it a second straight “perfect night,” upping their record to a quite amazing 22-9-3 ATS, or plus-12.1 net games (historical perspective will come after all first-round games are complete). Talk about “stuffing one’s pockets,” over bettors continue to “play lucky.” OKC/Memphis barely went over, preventing a 3-0 night for under players. However, there is nothing “lucky” or “unlucky” about the fact that there have been 27 overs and just 15 unders through 42 games. It’s just a F-A-C-T!

ESPN2 gets the first of three possible elimination games for Friday, as the Raptors are in Brooklyn for a Game 6 with the Nets (7:00 ET). Toronto has blown HUGE leads in each of the last two games, only to find a way to win back-to-back contests, giving them a 3-2 series lead. The Nets are favored by 4 1/2 points (total is 192). ESPN takes over the doubleheader business tonight from TNT, starting with San Antonio at Dallas (8:00 ET). Like in the first game, the home team is facing elination, down 3-2. The Spurs are favored by three points (total is 1971 1/2 ) and if San Antonio wins (but doesn’t cover), the Spurs would win the series WITHOUT covering a single game (Mavs are 5-0 ATS in this series, so far). Has that ever happened before? The late game is Houston at Portland (10:30 ET) and unlike the first two matchups, the home team is up 3-2 in this series. The Blazers are favored by four points (total is 213).

My next journal we be available Monday, by 2:00 ET. Have a great weekend.

good luck...Larry

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