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Playoff Journal, May 20

   by Larry Ness - 05/20/2014

NBA Playoff Journal (May 20)

It didn't take long for the Spurs to erase the bad taste in their mouths from a 4-0 regular season series sweep at the hands of the Thunder. Last night's Game 1 win wasn't a cake walk but the Spurs did take a seven-point lead into the 4th quarter and then put away the Thunder by winning the final quarter 33-23, for a 122-105 win.

San Antonio was taken to the limit by Dallas in the 1st round but a 119-96 blowout win in Game 7 of that series, has sure seemed to ignite the Spurs. They easily dispatched of the Blazers in five games, losing only Game 4, when they had taken a 3-0 series lead. Last night's win makes the Spurs 6-1 SU and ATS their last seven this postseason, with the six wins coming by margins of 23, 24, 17, 15, 22 and 17 points.

The Spurs ordinarily own a huge edge in the depth department against the Thunder (in fact, against most teams) but with Serge Ibaka sidelined, the Thunder will most likely need 'monster' series from BOTH Durant and Westbrook to beat the Spurs. OKC's two stars were very good last night but Durant's 28-9-5 and Westbrook's 25-5-7 were not enough to overcome the fact that OKC's remaining three starters totaled just FIVE points. OKC's reserves did outscore San Antonio's 47-43 but it was not nearly enough.

The Spurs shot a blistering 57.5% as a team, including 9 of 17 on threes. Duncan was terrific (27 & 7), Ginobili had 18 off the bench and Parker, seemingly not very limited by a hamstring injury, added 14 points and 12 assists. Leonard continued his excellent postseason with 16 points while Green made 6 of 7 FGs for 16 points plus as always, played great perimeter defense (he held the Thunder to 2-of-16 shooting when defending their players).

Home teams have now opened the conference finals 2-0 SU and ATS with both games sailing over. While high scoring games have been a postseason trend in 2014 (44 overs and 30 unders for a 59.5% win rate favoring over bettors), home teams have struggled since the very beginning. Heading into tonight's Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals, home teams are a modest 40-34 SU (.541) and a 'money-burning' 29-43-3 ATS. That's 40.8% or minus-17.2 net games.

The Heat take on the Pacers tonight at 8:30 ET on ESPN, with Indiana up 1-0 in the series. "Zig-Zaggers" will be on Miami (32-25-3 this postseason or plus-4.5 net games), although the home team has won the last NINE games and 13 of the last 15 in this rivalry! Then again, Miami has won 10 straight playoff games following a SU loss, going back to the 2012 Eastern Conference finals against Boston, going 9-1 ATS. Your move!

Good luck...Larry

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