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Playoff Journal, June 15

   by Larry Ness - 06/15/2014

NBA Playoff Journal (June 15)

The Spurs had 71 points at the half in Game 3 at Miami but in Game 4, it took them a full three quarters to reach 81 points. However, it was good enough for a 24-point lead entering the final period. The Spurs’ 107-86 win last Thursday has seemingly put a ‘stranglehold’ on this year’s NBA Finals. Or has it? No team has ever come back from down 3-1 in NBA Finals history to win but LBJ plans will gather his Miami Heat teammates around him and offer a few final words of wisdom before they try to extend their reign as NBA champions. James says he nr rehearses the speech,but already knows what the gist will be. "It would be in the range of, `Why not us?" James said Saturday. "Why not us? History is broken all the time. And obviously we know we're against the greatest of odds."

The Heat have NOT be able to slow the Spurs down, as San Antonio has shot 54.2 percent from the floor through four games, three times shooting 57 percent of higher in a contest (Games 1, 3 and 4). Parker has DOMINATED Chalmers at the point (Chalmers has averaged 3.6 PPG on 29.2% shooting with just 18 assists and 12 TOs) and Miami’s weakness inside has been exposed by San Antonio’s big men. The Spurs’ balance has overwhelmed the Heat’s “Big 3,” with LBJ’s averages of 27.0-6.6-4.2 hardly making a dent against San Antonio’s multi-layered attack. Wade and Bosh have been no better than average plus Miami’s role players have been basically, non-existent.

“Old stand-bys” Parker (18.5-5,.3 APG), Duncan (15.8-10.5) and Ginobili (13.3-2.8-4.5) have typically been good but the play of Leonard (16.8 PPG, including 49 points in the two wins ay Miami), Green (11.5 plus terrific perimeter defense) and Diaw (6.5-8.5-5.8 plus a series-best plus/minus of plus-60), have been the real “difference makers!” The Spurs are the 32nd team in NBA history to hold a 3-1 lead in the finals. All 31 of the previous teams have won the title. "History is made to be broken, and why not me be a part of it? That would be great," James said. "That would be a great story line, right? But we'll see what happens. I've got to live in the moment, though, before we even get to that point."

The Spurs have taken command of this series with their two impressive wins in Miami and this veteran team WON’T be taking anything for granted. "We've got to act like we're coming into it like it's a road game," Spurs guard Danny Green said. "It's a mentality thing. We have to come up with the same mentality we do on the road and try to protect home court and play with desperation." Tim Duncan added, "They're going to come out and give us their best punch possible. We know that they're back-to-back champs and they've been in this situation before and they have all the confidence in the world that they can win these games. So we have to do just the same. Come out there and say, hey, we're going to take it little by little, quarter by quarter, and see what happens."

The LBJ, Wade and Bosh Heat have never been down 3-1 before, so this is new territory. "We're not so entitled or jaded that we're above having to fight for it, and that's what it is right now," Heat coach Erik Spoelstra said. "It's competition. So we've got to find a way to fight and get this next game, and that's what it's all about." We get to find out tonight at 8:00 ET on ABC. The Spurs are favored by 5 1/2 points and the total is 196 1/2. Home teams are 1-3 SU and ATS in the Finals, after going 10-2 SU and ATS in the conference finals. All told, home teams are 49-39 SU (.557) but a ‘money-burning’ 38-47-3 ATS (that’s just 44.7% and minus-13.7 net games).

There have been two overs and two unders in the Finals, although over players will walk away happy this postseason, heading into tonight’s Game 5 at 50-38 (56.8%). “Zig-Zaggers” will have the Heat, trying to add another win to a modestly profitable 2014 postseason (39-31-3 ATS or plus-4.9 net games).

I’ll return Tuesday with my latest Playoff Journal (if Miami wins), or a Finals recap, if San Antonio triumphs.

Good luck...Larry

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