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Tuesday, May 2
by Larry Ness - 05/02/2006
The NBA may want to rethink its current seeding process, as last night's results revealed a number of flaws in the current system. The Mavs easily beat the Grizzlies last night (102-76), sweeping a seven-game series for the first time in team history. Meanwhile, the Clippers routed the Nuggets 101-83, giving that franchise its first playoff series win in 30 years.
My free play for Tuesday is on the LA Dodgers over the Az Diamondbacks at 9:40 ET. Early risers caught my Double-15* Afternoon Two-Step in MLB and everyone can still get my 15* Rivalry Classic tonight, on the Yankees/Red Sox game. In the NBA, I've got one of my exclusive LEGEND Plays (2-0 in TY's postseason) and my 20* 1st Rd Western Conf Total of the Year!
However, the bigger picture is this. Memphis played great ball down the stretch (won eight of its last nine) to edge the Clippers ( who went 5-6 in April) and gain the West's fifth seed. For its fine play, Memphis was forced to open with Dallas, which despite owning the West's second-best record (60-22), was the conference's fourth seed because Phoenix (Pacific) and Denver (Northwest) were given the second and third seeds respectively, for winning their divisions.
The Clippers actually got a much easier first round opponent in the Nuggets (who finished the year with 16 fewer regular season wins than the Mavs), plus got the significant benefit of the home court advantage. Now Memphis can't be excused for another pathetic playoff performance and the Clippers surely deserve credit for their excellent play versus the Nuggets but the seeding process, like the BCS, needs some "tweaking."
The loss by Memphis extended its NBA record of most playoff losses without a postseason win to 12 (2-10 ATS). The Grizzlies also set a new NBA record with their 12th consecutive playoff loss, surpassing Denver's 11 straight playoff losses, set from 1988 through 1994. The Mavs can't like the seeding process much either, as they most likely will face the Spurs (No. 1 seed) in the next round.
As for the Clippers, they held Denver to under 40 percent shooting in the series and have now won as many playoff games in this year's postseason (4), as the franchise has since it moved to California in 1978 (had gone 4-9 in games in three previous playoff series). With a little more luck, the Clippers could get the seventh-seeded Lakers in the second round rather than the Suns (No. 2 seed). In fact, they'd be unlucky to not get the Lakers, who lead the Suns 3-1.
The Pistons led the league with 64 wins this year but found themselves trailing by two points entering last night's fourth quarter against the Bucks. Detroit led just 95-93 with 2:29 left but outscored Milwaukee 14-6 the rest of the way and with a 109-99 win, took a 3-1 lead in its first round series. The Pistons are the only one of the top-four seeds to be in control of their series. Miami (E-2) is tied 2-2 with Chicago, as is San Antonio (W-1) with Sacramento and Phoenix (W-2) actually trails LA, 3-1.
There are four games on tonight's playoff menu, including a doubleheader on TNT. The Pacers are at the Nets (7:05 ET) and the Kings are at the Spurs (9:35 ET) in non-televised action. New Jersey is favored by seven points (179) and San Antonio is favored by nine points (186). The first game of the TNT doubleheader is Chicago at Miami (8:05 ET) with the Heat favored by 8 1/2 points (198 1/2).The nightcap is the Lakers at the Suns (10:35 ET) with Phoenix favored by 6 1/2 points (205).
The Pacers/Nets series is tied at 2-all with the Pacers winning both games in which Peja has played, while losing each time he hasn't. While Peja is averaging just 11.0-4.5 in the series, the Pacers clearly need him. For New Jersey, Carter has made 60 percent of his FG attempts in the Nets' two wins and just 37 percent in the team's two losses! Indiana has made 72 turnovers so far (NJ has only 39) but the Nets are just 14-of-59 (23.7%) from the three-point arc.
The Heat averaged 113 PPG and shot 50.3 percent from the floor in taking a 2-0 lead in their series with the Bulls but averaged just 88.5 PPG (41.6%) in losing two games in Chicago. Shaq averaged 24.5-11.5 (11-15 FTs) in Miami but was in foul trouble in both games in Chicago, while averaging just 12.0-6.0 (0-7 FTs!).
Hinrich (22.8-8.8 APG) and Nocioni (22.8-9.5 RPG) have been great for the Bulls, while Gordon (despite a 13-point effort in Game 2) is the team's leading scorer at 24.8 PPG. Chicago is on a 14-4 SU run (14-3-1 ATS), while the Heat have gone just 9-23-1 ATS since the All Star break.
The Kings/Spurs series has seen each team win a close one and a blowout at home. SA averaged 125 PPG on 54.1 percent from the floor in taking a 2-0 lead but in Sacramento, averaged just 88.5 PPG on 45.6 percent. Artest sat out Game 2 (suspension) but averaged 18.0-8.8 in the two home games. However, Bonzi Wells has been the team MVP, averaging 21.0-12.3.
Ginobili, a 15.1 PPG scorer this year for San Antonio, combined to shoot just 4-of-13 (11 points) in the two games at Arco. The Spurs are 36-7 SU at home this year but just 20-23 ATS.
Phil Jackson has never lost a first round series (14-0) and his Lakers have a chance tonight to become just the fifth No. 7 seed to win a series (over a No. 2 seed) since the NBA adopted its 16-team playoff field. The last team to do it was the NY Knicks in 1998 but LA would be the first to do it in a seven-game series. The Lakers have won three straight games since losing the opener, holding the Suns to just 94.3 PPG in their three wins.
Kobe has averaged just 23 PPG (35.4 during the regular season) but the Lakers' balanced play (and defense) has been the difference. Nash has played well for the Suns (22.0-10.2 APG) but Marion's been outplayed by Odom and the Suns' role players, so influential in the team's success this year, have greatly underachieved. While LA's 3-1 lead in this series is a surprise, so is the fact the all four games have gone 'under', in a series featuring the highest posted totals.
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