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Playoff Journal, May 9

   by Larry Ness - 05/09/2016

Playoff Journal (May 9)

All four semifinal series will have completed four games by the end of play on Monday. The Cavs and Warriors, last year’s NBA finalists, both took 2-0 leads in their respective series. The Warriors (likely without Curry again) will look to go up 3-1 on the Blazers tonight at Portland in Game 4 (more on that later), while the Cavs eliminated the Hawks on Sunday, 100-99. Atlanta had no answer for Cleveland’s three-point shooting in the series, as the Cavs knocked down an NBA single-game record of 25 in Game 2 and another 21 from long distance in Game 3. The “Big Three” have been “just that” this postseason, with Irving averaging 24.4 PPG, LBJ 23.5-7.3-8.8 and Love 18.9 & 12.5. The Cavs are making 46.2 percent of their threes en route to an 8-0 SU and 5-3 ATS playoff run (own 12 straight playoff wins over the Hawks).

As noted in previous journals, teams falling into an 0-2 ‘hole ‘ in a best-of-seven series, rarely come back to win. Just 17 of the 263 teams to fall behind 0-2 have come back to win a best-of-seven series in NBA history (that’s 6.5%!), with Cleveland eliminating Atlanta on Sunday. The Spurs jumped out to a 27-17 first-quarter lead at OKC last night but the Thunder used a HUGE fourth quarter to even that series at two-all. The Spurs led 85-79 with a 11:04 left in the game but Durant’s two FTs at the 9:12 mark sparked a 25-10 closing run by the Thunder. In all, the Thunder outscored the Spurs 34-16 in the final period for a 111-97 victory.

Durant matched a playoff high with 41 points and Westbrook added 14-7-15. OKC’s center duo of Adams (16 & 11) and Kanter (11 & 8) played very well, as OKC shot 50.6 percent as a team. The Spurs not only suffered an unlikely 4th quarter collapse but two starters, Duncan and Green, each were scoreless. Parker (22), Leonard (21) and Aldridge (20) all reached 20 points but the Spurs made just TWO of 12 from three-point range (entered the contest making 49.5% on three for the postseason). Home teams are now 8-6 SU and ATS in the second round with seven overs and seven unders, while “Zig-Zaggers” are 5-5. Postseason numbers to-date numbers are 38-20 (.655) and 33-25 ATS (56.9%), with 38 of the 56 games going under (65.6%) and Zig Zag followers at 22-24 ATS (minus-4.4 net games).

TNT covers tonight’s doubleheader of Game 4s, with Toronto at Miami (Raptors lead 2-1) up first at 8:00 ET, followed by Golden St at Portland (Warriors are up 2-1) at 10:30 ET. Hassan Whiteside has a sprained MCL (right knee) and the man who led the NBA in blocks during the regular season at 3.7 per game is listed as doubtful for Game 4. He averaged 14.2 & 11.8 during the regular season and has averaged 12.0 & 10.9 this postseason. He will be missed but so will Toronto’s Jonas Valanciunas, as the Raptors have said he won’t return this series, after spraining his right ankle in Game 3. How important has he been to Toronto? The Raptors are plus-41 points with him on the court and minus-39 points without him. The Heat are favored by 5 1/2 points.

The Warriors say Curry is doubtful for Game 4 and Golden St will need more than just Green and Thompson contributing to win Game 4. Green had 37 and Thompson 35 in Game 3 but no other Warrior took more than EIGHT shots. Lillard is averaging 31.7 PPG in the series for Portland and has made 18 of his 32 three-point attempts (56.3%). Golden St is favored by 4 1/2points.

Tuesday’s journal by 12 noon ET.

Good luck...Larry

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