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NBA Playoff Journal, Thurs. April 21

   by Larry Ness - 04/21/2016

Playoff Journal (April 21)

The Heat, Cavs and Clippers all took 2-0 leads in their respective series last night, as home teams went 3-0 SU & ATS. Miami put up a franchise playoff-high 123 points in a 32-point Game 1 win, shooting 57.6% (9 of 18 on threes) with Deng’s 31 points and Whiteside’s double-double (21 & 11) leading the way. The Heat shot 57.9% (9 of 16 on threes) in last night’s 115-103 win, with Wade’s 28 points and second straight double-double from Whiteside (17 & 13), leading the way. Miami now owns an 11-game 1st-round winning streak, as well as a 14-2 home record since the All Star break. The Hornets will be glad to return home for the next two games, as they’ve now lost <15 of their last 16 in Miami. However, the prognosis is not good, as Miami has taken a 2-0 series lead for the 14th time in franchise history, having won each of the 13 previous times it has done so.

The Cavs struggled to put the Pistons away in Game 1 (needed to outscore Detroit 30-18 over the game’s final 10:52 to win by FIVE points) but a 27-15 third quarter advantage did the trick in Game 2. All of Detroit’s starters scored in double digits but the Heat shot 50% for the game, while tying an NBA playoff record by making 20 three-pomters (on 38 attempts), on their way to a 107-90 victory. LBJ (27), again got solid support from Irving (22) and Love (16 & 10), plus J.R. Smith chipped in 21. LBJ played in his 180th career postseason game (one more than MJ), as he looks to move to 11-0 all-time in opening round series in his career (his teams are now 42-7 in individual 1st-round games).

The Clippers blew out the Blazers for the second consecutive time in Wednesday’s final game of the night, again led by PG Chris Paul (25 points). Center Jordan scored just three points but had 18 rebounds, plus LA’s bench contributed 43 points. The Blazers lost Game 1 by 20 points and last night’s margin was 21, as Portland connected on just 34.1% (5 of 26 on threes). Lillard and McCollum combined to make only 12 of 39 shots (2 of 13 on threes), after the team’s guard duo went a combined 10 of 28 (4 of 13 on threes) in Game 1.

Wednesday’s 3-0 sweep by home teams make them 14-2 SU and 11-5 ATS to-date in the 2016 postseason. “Under” bettors continue to fill their pockets, as 12 of 16 games have stayed under the total. Those following the Zig-Zag theory opened 3-0 ATS on Monday but are 0-5 the last two nights. It’s a three-game Thursday card, featuring a TNT doubleheader. OKC at Dallas is up first at 7:05 ET, one of just two first round series tied at one-all. Dallas is hardly 100 percent with Dirk, Williams, Barea, lee and Harris all suffering from various ‘ills,’ but after shooting a woeful 29.8% and scoring just 70 points in Game 1, the Mavs somehow won 85-84 at OKC in Game 2. The Thunder entered Game 2 of the series 5-0 against the Mavs this season, averaging 111.6 PPG. However, OKC was held to 84 points. That said, OKC is favored by 8 1/2 points in Game 3 at Dallas.

The late game on TNT (9:35 ET) is Golden St at Houston. Naturally, the big story is Curry’s ankle but the Rockets look like a mess and the Warriors will likely be just fine without him. The Rockets have lost 14 of their last 15 against the Warriors and Golden St is favored by 5 1/2 points on the road. The Raptors and Pacers (like the OKC/Dal series) are tied at one-all, as the series shifts to Indiana (7:35 ET tip). The Pacers’ George is averaging 30.5 PPG but only Ellis (15.0) joins him in double digits. As for Toronto, can the Raptors really win if DeRozan and Lowry can’t find their shooting ‘eyes?’ DeRozan is 10 of 37 and Lowry 7 of 26, after two games. The Raptors are a 1 1/2-point choice.

Friday’s journal available by 12 noon ET.

Good luck...Larry

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