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Playoff Journal, May 18

   by Larry Ness - 05/18/2016

Playoff Journal (May 18)

The Eastern Conference Finals began last night in Cleveland and the underdog Raptors jumped out to a 7-0 lead, before LBJ scored the Cavs’ first points at 9:52 of the first period. However, the Cavs led 33-28 by the end of the first quarter and after a 33-16 second quarter (Toronto’s first FG didn’t come until 6:28 remaining in that period), the Cavs held a commanding 66-44 halftime. Cleveland cruised in the second half and won 115-84, with the 31-point margin of victory being the largest in Cleveland playoff history.

LBJ had 24-6-4 (made 11 of 13 FG attempts) and the Cavs’ leading playoff scorer Kyrie Irving (24.7 PPG) once again led the way with 27 points (11-of-17 FGs). Love came in averaging 18.9 & 12.5 but had a modest 14 & 4. EIGHT players got minutes off the bench with six scoring a total of 39 points. The Cavs shot 55.4 percent as a team, although a more modest 35.0 percent (7 of 20) on threes, after entering the game having connected on 46.2 percent of threes in their first two series. Toronto shot 42.1 percent from the floor, including just 5 of 24 on threes, as Lowry’s shooting woes re-surfaced. He was 4 of 14 overall, including 0 of 7 on threes. DeRozan had a quiet 18 points as incredibly, Toronto's All Star backcourt duo did not attempt a SINGLE free throw between them, despite DeRozan playing 35 minutes and Lowry 32. In fact, Toronto starters combined to attempt just five FTs!

Home teams are now 45-23 (.662) and 39-29 ATS (57.4%). Last night’s game snuck over the closing total but it’s still 41 of 68 unders (60.3%) so far this postseason. Game 2 of the Western Conference Finals will tip tonight at 9:00 ET on TNT. The Warriors let a 13-point halftime lead get away in Game 1, scoring just 42 points in the second half, including only 14 in the fourth quarter. Both point totals represent season lows for the team. OKC led the NBA in rebounding margin during the regular season at plus-8.4 per game and have increased that to plus-9.5 RPG in the postseason. In Game 1, OKC outrebounded Golden St 52-44.

Those following the Zig Zag theory were 11-7 (61.1%) in the second round, after going 17-19 (47.2%) in the opening round. They are 28-26 or minus-0.6 net games in the 2016 postseason to-date and will be on the Warriors tonight, who are favored by 8 1/2 points.

Thursday’s journal by 12 noon ET.

Good luck...Larry

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