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Playoff Journal, April 27

   by Larry Ness - 04/27/2016

Playoff Journal (April 27)

Tuesday saw both home teams win, as the Raptors and Hawks each took 3-2 leads in their respective series. However, Toronto and Atlanta took very different journeys in their Game 5 victories.The Pacers took a 35-20 first quarter lead in Toronto last night and entered the fourth quarter holding a 90-77 advantage. Paul George scored 37 points through the game's first three quarters but NOTHING went right for the Pacers in last night's final period, as Toronto rallied for a 102-99 win.

Indiana's first points of the final period didn't come until there was 7:41 remaining in the game and George's ONLY two points of the final quarter didn't come until 2:27 left but by then, Toronto had outscored Indiana 21-2! George's basket made it 98-94 and the final margin of victory would be three points. A flurry of Indiana turnovers and a 4 of 18 shooting performance from the Pacers allowed the Raptors to win last night's fourth quarter, 25-9. DeRozan finally had the breakout game the Raptors had been waiting for, scoring 34 points. After failing to get to the free throw line in TWO of the series' first four games, Toronto's leading scorer converted 12 of 13 last night. Biyombo (10 & 16) plus Powell (10 points) provided outstanding play off the bench.

Boston took a 20-15 led at the end of the first quarter last night in Atlanta but the Hawks then blew away the Celtics by outscoring them 32-19 in the second quarter and 42-23 in the third. Atlanta led 89-62 entering the fourth and won 110-83. After scoring a career- high 45 points in a Game 4 loss, Atlanta's Millsap had a modest line of 10-8-6 but he was one of FIVE double digit Atlanta scorers. Scott led all Hawks with 17 points off the bench, as Atlanta reserves totaled 49 points.The Hawks have now won 13 of their last 15 at home and the Celtics have now shot a combined 35.2 percent, including 25.0 percent on threes, in the three games played in Atlanta this series.

Three games are on Wednesday's schedule, with home teams sitting 26-11 SU (.714) and 22-13 ATS (62.9%), while 24 of the 35 games have gone under (68.6%). Those following the Zig Zag theory are 15-12 or plus 1.8 net games. The TNT doubleheader features the Hornets at the Hawks at 8:05 ET (series tied at 2-2) and then the Rockets at the Warriors at 10:35 ET (Golden St leads 3-1). NBA TV has the Blazers at the Clippers at 10:05 ET (series tied 2-2).

The Heat shot right around 58% in Games 1 and 2 at home, scoring 123 and 115 points in opening a 2-0 lead. However, Miami scored just 80 points in Game 3 at Charlotte (on 34.2%), then just 85 points in a Game 4 loss (on 39.5%). However, history is on Miami's side tonight, as the Heat are 13-2 over their last 15 home playoff games. Yes, LBJ was with the Heat for all but TWO of those contests, but the Hornets last won a road playoff game in 2002 (NINE straight losses). Also note that the Hornets have lost 19 of their last 21 visits to Miami (regular and postseason). Miami is favored by six points.

The Warriors take the court tonight looking to close out the Rockets but of course, will be without Steph Curry. However, the Warriors were just fine without him in the second half of Game 4 in Houston, outscoring the Rockets 41-20 in the third quarter, en route to a 121-94 win. Harden is averaging a modest 24.5 PPG (for him) in the series, while shooting just 37.7 percent, including only 28.6 percent on threes. Howard has delivered double-doubles in all four games but could someone averaging 14.5 & 12.3 be any QUIETER? Golden St is favored by 9 1/2 points.

The Clippers not only lost Game 4 in Portland 98-84 (allowing the Blazers to even the series at 2-all) but in the process, Chris Paul and Blake Griffin suffered season-ending injuries. Portland is favored by three points. Can the Clippers re-group and win this series? Either way, the Warriors HAVE to be feeling a little better about Curry's injury situation, knowing that if they get by Houston, they'll meet either a Paul and Griffin-less LA team or Portland in the second round.

Thursday's journal by 12 noon ET.

Good luck...Larry

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