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NBA Playoff Journal, May 27

   by Larry Ness - 05/27/2014

NBA Playoff Journal (May 27)


The Pacers did finally hold the Heat to under 50 percent from the floor in Game 4 (Miami shot 46.4%) but it was not NEARLY enough. The Heat were the way more aggressive team and it showed in the fact that Miami took 34 free throws (made 30) while Indiana got to the line just 17 times (made 11). The plus-19 point disparity at the charity stripe was more than enough for the Heat to win comfortably, 102-90.


After playing its best game of the 2014 postseason in Game 1 of this Eastern Conference finals (Pacers won 107-96), Indiana has now dropped three straight to Miami and finds itself in a 1-3 'hole.' The Heat are now just one win away from a FOURTH straight trip to the NBA Finals, a feat accomplished by only two other NBA franchises, the Celtics and Lakers.


LBJ had his highest scoring game of the series with 32 points but the real plus for Miami in Game 4 was Chris Bosh, who up until now, had been VERY quiet in this series. Bosh had scored just nine points in each of the first three games (on 12 of 33 shooting, which is 36.4%) but he came up HUGE in Game 4 last night, getting 25 points on 7 of 15 shooting on FGs and 8 of 10 on free throws.


Paul George bounced back from a poor Game 3 with 23 points and West added 20 & 12 but Roy Hibbert did another "disappearing act," playing 22 scoreless minutes (0 of 4 FGs), while grabbing five rebounds. He had averaged 15.7 PPG in the 1st three games of the series but this one was B-A-D! It should also come as no surprise that Lance Stephenson's 'bark' is quite a bit louder than his 'bite,' as the guy who engaged "King James" in a "war of words," scored just nine points on 3 of 7 shooting.


Home teams have struggled his postseason but NOT here in the conference finals. Last night's Miami win makes home teams 6-1 SU and ATS in the two current series. However, since the start of the postseason, home teams are a modest 44-35 SU (.557), while going a 'money-burning' 33-43-3 ATS (that's 43.4% or minus-14.3 net games).


Last night's game went over (again) and over players are cashing at almost a 60 percent rate this postseason, with 46 overs and 33 unders, so far (58.2% favoring the over). "Zig-Zaggers" lost with the Pacers and fell to 34-28-3 Y-T-D. However, that remains a profit of 3.2 net games. Tonight, they'll be on the Spurs when they visit the Thunder in OKC at 9:00 ET on TNT.


We all know the storyline tonight. Serge Ibaka's surprising return to the court in Game 3, made the Thunder look like a completely different team. His presence allowed Collison to return to the bench (a place he never left), while Brooks also replaced Sefolosha (0 for 9 on FGs in the 1st two games) with Jackson, who scored 15 points. Brooks will also likely to continue to make more use of rookie center Steven Adams, who has averaged 8 & 8 the last two games.


The lineup changes allowed Oklahoma City to out-rebound the Spurs 52-36 on Sunday after getting out-rebounded by three in Game 1 and 15 in Game 2. The Thunder also more aggressive and outscored the Spurs 26-15 at the free throw line. As for the Spurs, after shooting 57.5% in Game 1 and 50.0% in Game 1 (while averaging 117.0 PPG), the Spurs connected on only 39.6 percent, while scoring just 97 points. Parker and Green, who combined for 43 points in Game 2, had just 17 in Game 3, shooting a combined 7 of 25 (28.0%).


Do we now have a series? Oklahoma City dominated on Sunday with Ibaka and it sort of reminded us that OKC swept the Spurs 4-0 this regular season, outscoring San Antonio on average by just about 10 PPG (106.0-to-96.8). We begin to find out the 'answer' at 9:00 ET. The Thunder are favored by 2 1/2 points and the total is 207.


Good luck...Larry

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