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NBA Playoff Journal, Tues. April 19

   by Larry Ness - 04/19/2016

Playoff Journal (Tuesday, April 19)

It was a “must win” for the Raptors last night in Toronto and they came through with with a 98-77 win. Indiana’s Paul George (33 points in Game 1) had 28 points but the Pacers fell behind early and while they made a third quarter run, a 4 of 20 night from three-point range (just 41.4% on all FG attempts for the game), stymied their comeback. Jonas Valanciunas led Toronto with 23 & 15 but guards DeRozan and Lowry again struggled from the floor. DeRozan was 5 of 18 (just 10 points), while Lowry was 4 of 13. However, Lowry was 10 of 10 from the FT line, finishing with 18 points and nine assists. The series shifts to Indiana, tied at one-all.

Few would have predicted that the Mavs and Thunder would be tied and one-all, after Dallas shot 29.8 percent and scored just 70 points in Game 1 . However, OKC, which notably failed to close out more than just a few games in the fourth quarter during the regular season, fell into that ‘trap,’ again. Durant missed 26 shots (7 of 33), making it the worst shooting performance in terms of percentage of shots made and shots missed, in a career which has spanned 716 career post and regular season contests! Felton, despite his two missed FTs at the end which almost cost the Mavs, was Dallas’ best player with 21 points and 11 rebounds. Dallas made just 42.7 percent (including 5 of 19 on threes) plus was only 10 of 19 from the free-throw line, yet won, 85-84!

After a brief warm-up in the pre-game shoot around, Curry retuned to the locker room and as expected, watched Game 2 of the Houston/Golden St series from the bench. The Rockets hung around until the fourth quarter but in the end, the Warriors prevailed, 115-106. Livingston started in place of Curry and scored 16 points (also six assists), while Iquodala got extra minutes while adding 18 points. Curry’s “Splash Brother” (Thompson), led the way with 34 points (going 15 of 16 from the FT line), while the ever-present Green almost had a triple-double (12-14-8). Harden bounced back from an awful Game 1 to score 28 points but Howard was again a non-factor, adding 12 & 10. His plus-minus was minus-22, after earning a minus-16 in Game 1 (14 & 11).

Home teams were 2-1 SU and 1-2 ATS, making them 9-2 SU (6-5 ATS) since Saturday. There was a HUGE “late move” on Houston (after Curry was pronounced out) but it would have been hard to lose on the Rockets last night. Two of Monday’s three games stayed under, as “under players” are off to a good start, going 9-3. It’s “Zig Zag” time in all contests beginning with each series’ Game 2s and while it was a 3-0 sweep last night, re-visit my Monday journal which reviews how “Zig-Zaggers” have done since 2000.

It’s a two-game card on Tuesday, with TNT airing a doubleheader. Boston at Atlanta is up first (8:05 ET), with the Hawks up 1-0. Avery Bradley, Boston’s second-leading scorer and its best perimeter defender, is expected to miss the rest of the series. That’s NOT good news for the Celtics, as they’ve lost FIVE straight in Atlanta, where the Hawks have won 11 of their last 13, going back to the end of the regular season. Atlanta is favored by 6 1/2 points. Memphis at San Antonio tips at 10:35 ET, as the Spurs look to take a 2-0 lead. The Grizzlies are a M*A*S*H unit these days, entering with losses in 11 of their last 12 contests plus the Spurs have won 21 of their last 25 meetings with the Grizzlies, including regular and postseason games. San Antonio is favored by 18 points.

Wednesday’s journal by 12 noon ET.

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