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Playoff Journal, May 15

   by Larry Ness - 05/15/2014

NBA Playoff Journal (May 15)

I missed Wednesday's journal update (cross-contry travel plans) and have four games to recap from Tuesday and Wednesday. There were two blowouts, the Wizards shocking the Pacers 102-79 in a Game 5 at Indiana on Tuesday (setting up tonight's Game 6) and last night, the Spurs easily eliminated the Blazers (after a Game 4 'hiccup' in Portland), 104-82.

However, Tuesday's Clippers/Thunder game was a classic and last night's Brooklyn/Miami game wasn't "half-bad," either. The Clippers trailed the Thunder 82-66 in the early 4th quarter of Game 4 but outscored OKC 35-17 over the game's final nine minutes. The 101-99 win evened the series at two-all. Then, in Game 5, it was the Clippers who coughed up a late lead, when they were on the verge of taking a 3-2 series lead, which would have set up a potential series-clinching Game 6 at home at Staple Center.

LA led by 13 points with just over four minutes to go and by SEVEN points with only 49 seconds remaining. However, everyone knows by now that the Thunder would score that game's final EIGHT points to earn a 105-104 win and grab a 3-2 series lead, LA and in particular, Chris Paul, could probably use some more time to fully recover from one of the ugliest playoff collapses in NBA history, but neither Paul not the Clippers have that luxury (more in a bit).

"King James" lived up to his moniker, matching a career playoff-high with 49 points, making 16 of 24 FGs and 14 of 19 FTs in Game 4, allowing the Heat to take a commanding 3-1 lead over the Nets with a 102-96 on Monday. However, the Nets didn't "roll over" in last night's Game 5 in Miami. In fact, the Nets took a nine-point lead into the 4th quarter of last night's game. Down by eight points with less than five minutes left, the Heat showed why they are the two-time defending champs.

Miami forced Brooklyn into NINE straight missed shots while going on a 12-0 run to take the lead. Allen's three-pointer with 32 seconds remaining was the go-ahead moment and the Heat wouldn't trail again.The Heat are now 9-0 at home in potential series-clinching games in the James-Wade-Bosh era (since 2011 playoffs). It's the sixth trip to the Eastern Conference finals in the past 10 seasons for Miami, which is bidding for a fourth straight trip to the NBA Finals, something only the Lakers and Celtics franchises have accomplished.

Heading into Thursday's two games, home teams are now 38-32 SU (.543) after 70 postseason games but a woeful 27-40-3 ATS (that's 40.3% or minus-17.0 net games). "Zig-Zaggers" have struggled some in this second round but cashed both tickets last night, improving to 32-23-3 ATS for the postseason to-date (plus-6.7 net games). Three of the four games went under the last two days but over bettors are still "sitting pretty" this postseason, with 42 overs and 28 unders (60.0%).

FIVE of the eight first-round series went the full seven games (a record since those series were expanded to the best-of-seven) but at most, the second round will have two series "go the distance." That's the set-up as we check in on Thursday's ESPN doubleheader. It's Indiana/Washington at 8:00ET and then Oklahoma City/LA Clippers at about 10;30 ET.

The top-seeded Pacers are hoping to avoid a second straight seven-game series with a win, while the Wizards are hoping to play the franchise's first Game 7 since the 1978 NBA Finals. The Wizards are favored by 4 1/2 points (total is 180 1/2) but the visiting team is 4-1 SU in this series plus the Pacers are 3-0 SU and ATS when playing as an underdog this postseason.

The Clippers, like the Wizards, are hoping to win at home and be around to play a Game 7 on Sunday, back in OKC. The Clippers are also favored by 4 1/2 points (total is 212) but home court hasn't meant much in this series either, with the road team going 4-1 ATS.

Good luck...Larry

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