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Playoff Journal, May 6

   by Larry Ness - 05/06/2014

Home teams barely won half their games in the opening round (26-24) and went a ‘money-burning’ 19-28-3 ATS. The conference semifinals (second round) began last night and I guess it should come as no surprise that in each case, the visiting team won (it surprised me though, as I had the Pacers). The Wizards jumped out to a 28-15 lead after the first quarter and then held on in the fourth quarter, as Bradley Beal scored 14 of his game-high 25 points in that final stanza. Beal’s backcourt partner Wall shot just 4 of 14 (13 points) but did add nine assists. Washington’s starting frontcourt was excellent, as Ariza had 22 points, Nene 15 & 6 and Gortat 12 & 15.

Roy Hibbert’s “vanishing act” was on full display, as his Game 7 effort vs Atlanta was quickly forgotten. He went scoreless and didn’t pull down a rebound in 18 minutes of action. George had 18-6-5, Hill 18, West 15 & 12 and Stephenson 12. The Pacers were an NBA-best 36-5 SU at home in the regular season but are now 2-3 at home in the playoffs. The Wizards win marks the team’s first second-round victory of any kind since 1982. Washington has now opened the 2014 postseason 4-0 on the road, after the franchise had gone 4-23 on the playoff road the previous 23 years.

Speaking of the team's 4-0 start on the road, how about head coach Randy Wittman? Wittman owns a 191-329 record in parts of eight seasons with Cleveland, Minnesota and Washington, with the 2014 playoffs being his first-ever postseason. So all he does is lead his team to a 4-0 start on the playoff road, joining only two other coaches in NBA history to do so, Pat Riley (1982 Lakers) and Mike Dunleavy (1991 Lakers). Raise your hand if you predicted that one!

In Monday’s second game, the Clippers one-upped the Wizards’ fast start, opening a 39-25 lead after one quarter in OKC against the Thunder. LA then scored 30 points in the second quarter and another 35 in the third, for 104 points, which allowed them to take a 26-point lead into the 4th quarter (those who just raised their hands, also likely called this one as well). Chris Paul nailed a career-high eight, three-pointers, leading the Clippers with 32 points (also 10 assists). Griffin had 23, as LA shot 54.9 percent as a team, including 14 of 29 on threes. Westbrook led OKC with 29 and Durant, just named league MVP on Tuesday, had 25. It marked OKC’s worst home loss since the franchise moved from Seattle, changing from the Supersonics to the Thunder.

Two more games go tonight with home teams now 26-26 SU and 19-30-3 ATS. That’s just 38.8 percent or minus-14.0 net games (almost hard to believe). Maybe equally as surprising is the fact that both games flew over last night, as over bettors just keep going to the cashier’s window, with 34 overs and just 18 unders through 52 games (65.4%). The Nets play in Miami against the Heat in the first game tonight (7:05 ET on TNT) and then it’s the Blazers in San Antonio to take on the Spurs at 9:35 ET (also on TNT). Miami is favored around 5-to-1 to win the series (although the Nets won all FOUR meetings this year) and the Heat are favored by eight points in Game 1 (total is 192). The Spurs are about a 4-to-1 favorite in the series and are favored by seven oppoints in Game 1 (total is 206 1/2).

Good luck...Larry

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