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Playoff Journal, May 31

   by Larry Ness - 05/31/2016

Playoff Journal (May 31)

Golden St’s Harrison Barnes (24) and OKC head coach Billy Donovan (51) celebrated birthdays on Monday. Barnes’ ‘day’ hardly started well as Steve Kerr made a change in his starting lineup, replacing him with Andre Iguodala, while Donovan’s day got off to a good start when the Thunder built a 13-point lead in the first half. However, by game’s end, while Barnes scored a modest five points in 22 minutes off the bench (he did have eight rebounds, though), his Warriors were the team celebrating by the end of the night. As for Donovan, his 51st birthday was a dud, as the Thunder became the 10th team to lose a seven-game playoff series after holding a 3-1 lead in games.

OKC’s ‘meltdown’ in Game 6 came in that game’s final five minutes but last night, it was a 12-point third quarter which did in the Thunder. OKC took a six-point lead into the half (Warriors were held to just 42 points) and 2 1/2 minutes into the third period, the Warriors had yet to score (OKC led 50-42). However, that’s when Golden St took over, as a Curry three-pointer with 9:18 remaining in the quarter led to the Warriors outscoring the Thunder 27-10 the remainder of the period. Golden St took a 71-60 lead into the final period and with Curry, Thompson and Green scoring ALL of its 25 fourth-quarter points, the defending champs came away with a 96-88 win.

Curry made a three-pointer in his 51st straight playoff game and both he (32) and Thompson (30) broke the NBA playoff record for threes in a seven-game series (had been 28, shared by Dennis Scott and Ray Allen). In winning Games 6 and 7, Curry averaged 33.5 PPG while making 13 of 26 threes. His fellow “Splash Brother” averaged 31.0 PPG, while making 17 of 29 from ‘downtown.’ That’s a combined 30 of 55 (54.5 percent) and in stark contrast, Durant (4 of 15) and Westbrook (2 of 11) combined to make only 6 of 26 three-pointers (23.1 percent).

Golden St was 38 of 73 (52.1 percent) as a team on threes in Games 6 & 7, while OKC was only 10 of 50 (20.0 percent). That means the Warriors outscored the Thunder by 84 points from behind the arc in the series’ final two contests in winning Game 6 by seven points and Game 7 by eight. Think the NBA game hasn’t changed? Then consider this tweet by Bill Simmons. “Steph and Klay hit 30 threes combined in the last two games. The 1986 Finals had 17 made threes total!”

Home teams finished the conference finals 10-3 SU and ATS with EIGHT of the 13 games staying under (“Zig-Zaggers” were 5-6 in this round). Checking in on the postseason numbers to-date, home teams are 54-25 SU (.684) and 48-31 ATS (60.8%). Forty-eight of the 79 games have stayed under (60.8%) and those following the Zig-Zag theory are 33-32, which is minus-2.2 net games.

Golden St was the 233rd team in NBA history to fall behind 3-1 in a best-of-seven playoff series and was one of just 30 teams to have rallied from a 3-1 deficit to force a Game 7. Monday’s victory made them only the 10th team to win a Game 7 after falling behind 3-1 (that’s 4.3 percent). EIGHT of the 10 winners did so at home and Golden St’s win last night gives home teams a 101-24 (.808) all-time record in Game 7s. As for the Thunder, 37 previous teams had lost Game 6 at home with a 3-2 series lead and with Monday’s defeat, just 12 of those 37 teams (32.4%) have been able to rebound a win Game 7.

My NBA Finals preview by 12 noon ET on Thursday.

Good luck...Larry

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