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NBA Playoff Journal, May 3

   by Larry Ness - 05/03/2016

Playoff Journal (May 3)

The top-four seeds all advanced past the opening round in the Eastern Conference for the first time since 2010. The Hawks (4) and Cavs (1) opened their series last night, with Cleveland getting a pretty good scare. There were worries of possible rust facing the Cavs (hadn’t played since 4/24) but Cleveland would have none of that. However, after building an 18-point lead in the second half, Al Horford’s basket at the 8:00-minute mark of the fourth quarter put the Hawks up 80-79. J.R.. Smith’s three-pointer with 4:05 remaining in the game put the Cavs ahead for good and sparked a game-ending 17-5 run. The final was 104-93, the Cavs’ NINTH straight postseason win over the Hawks.

LBJ led Cleveland with 25-7-9, while Irving had 21 and Love 17 & 11. Love shot just 4 of 17 though, plus tweaked his the shoulder. Love’s dislocated left shoulder ended his first postseason last year and he banged his right shoulder in the fourth quarter last night when he pump-faked Bazemore into the air and drew contact while shooting a three-pointer. During a timeout, one of Cleveland's medical personnel worked on Love, who stayed in the game. "I'm fine," said Love, who made two of his free throws. "I can't catch a break with my shoulders." The Hawks were led by Schroeder’s playoff career-high 27 points but the starting backcourt of Teague and Korver, flopped. Teague scored just eight points (2 of 9 FGs) plus Korber attempted just ONE shot (he missed) in 37 minutes (he scored only THREE points in the game).

Game 2 of the Thunder/Spurs series had a little controversy in the game’s final seconds but one HAD to be impressed the way the Thunder rebounded from their 32-point Game 1 loss to even this series with a 98-97 win. Durant and Westbrook combined to shoot just 11 of 34 (32.4%) in Game 1 but combined to make 50 percent in Game 2 (22 of 44). Westbrook had 29-7-10 and Durant 28 points. Adams played VERY well at center (12 & 17), while Kanter came off the bench to add 12 & 8. Aldridge scored 38 points in leading the Spurs to that Game 1 rout and he topped that point total in Game 2, scoring 41 points (15 of 21 FGs). However, Leonard scored just 14 points (down from 25 in Game 1), while the other three starters (Duncan, Parker and Green) combined for only 18 points. Excluding Aldridge, San Antonio’s other four starters made only 14 of 46 (30.4 percent). This same San Antonio team connected on 60.7 percent in Game 1, including 9 of 15 on threes.

TNT airs a doubleheader tonight, as the Heat (3) and Raptors (2) open their series at 8:05 ET and the Blazers and Warriors play Game 2 of theirs at 10:35 ET. Home teams are 3-1 SU and ATS in the early going of the semifinals, with two games games going over and two going under (both of Monday’s games). Home teams are 33-15 SU (.625) and 28-20 ATS (58.3%) in the playoffs to-date, with 33 of the 48 (68.8%) staying under. Miami and Toronto meet in the postseason for the first time, each coming off seven-game series in the opening round. The Raptors are –150 to win the series and are favored by 4 1/2 points in Game 1. The Warriors will be without Curry again in Game 2 but so far, Golden St has had little trouble with Houston and Portland, so far. The Warriors are favored by 10 points in Game 2.

Wednesday’s journal available by 12 noon ET.

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