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Playoff Journal, June 8

   by Larry Ness - 06/08/2014

What happens when an irresistible force meets an unmovable object? That's the question an the eve of Game 2 of the 2014 NBA Finals. The Spurs have won EIGHT straight playoff home games by at least 15 points (an NBA record) going 8-0 ATS (naturally) BUT Miami has won 12 straight following a playoff loss, going 11-1 ATS!

The Spurs are on an unprecedented postseason roll and not even 23 turnovers in Game 1 could stop them. San Antonio looked as if it was in trouble trailing Miami 86-79 with about 9 1/2 minutes to go in Game 1 but helped by soaring temperatures which reached into the 90s due to a power failure in the AC system, the Spurs outscored the Heat 31-9 the rest of the way to win 110-95 and take a 1-0 lead in this year's Finals.

It was indeed a strange setting.The two-time defending champs were in a great position to win Game 1 before LBJ departed with cramps. Of all players, it was James who was most-affected by the conditions, experiencing severe cramping and dehydration issues while missing most of the final 7 1/2 minutes. He told reporters on Friday that he received 2 1/2 bags of intravenous fluids afterward. “For obvious reasons, I was angry, I was disappointed in myself,” James said. “I did everything that I needed to do to prepare for this game, prepare for this moment and to feel like my body failed me, I was angry in the fact that I couldn’t help my team get over the hump.” James departed with 3:59 remaining after he scored a basket to pull the Heat within 94-92 and the Spurs went on a game-ending 16-3 surge after he departed.

It's safe to say that this is an important game. The Heat haven't trailed 2-0 in ANY series in the James-Wade-Bosh era. What's more, NBA playoff history has not been kind to teams which fall behind 0-2 in the NBA Finals. Teams which take a 2-0 lead in the NBA Finals go on to win the series 90.3 percent of the time (28 of 31).

Of the 31 teams to fall behind 0-2, only THREE have come back to win the title. The 1969 Celtics (in Bill Russell's final season) were the first to do it against the Lakers of Baylor, Chamberlain & West. The 1977 Trail Blazers of Bill Walton also accomplished the rare feat (against the Dr J & George McGinnis 76ers) and the 2006 Heat of Wade & Shaq were the most recent to do it (against the Mavs).

Home teams struggled in the first two rounds of this year's playoffs, barely winning 50 percent of their games SU (38-34, .528). They were an AWFUL 27-44-3 ATS or 39.1 percent! However, home teams dominated the conference finals, going 10-2 SU and ATS, plus San Antonio's win and cover in Game 1 of the Finals has home teams on an 11-2 SU and ATS run.

That makes home teams 49-36 (.576) through 85 postseason games but just (although an improving) 38-44-3 ATS (46.3% or minus-10.4 net games). Game 1 went over the total, continuing a pattern that's seen over bettors go 49-36 (57.6%) in the 2014 playoffs. "Zig-Zaggers" are 37-30-3 ATS (plus-4.0 net games) and will 'hang their hats' tonight on the Heat. Tip-off is set for 8:00 ET on ABC with the Spurs favored by four points (total is 199).

Good luck..Larry

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