Wednesday's NBA Action
April 24, 2013
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HOUSTON ROCKETS (45-38) at OKLAHOMA CITY THUNDER (61-22)
Sportsbook.ag Line & Total: Oklahoma City -11.5 & 212.5
After a thorough beatdown on Sunday night, the Rockets will try to climb back into their first-round playoff series in Wednesday's Game 2 versus the mighty Thunder.
The Rockets are now 2-5 SU (1-6 ATS) in their past seven games, but none of those losses were as painful as the 120-91 shellacking they absorbed in Game 1. All five of Oklahoma City's starters posted a rating of greater than +20, and none needed to log even 35 minutes in the blowout victory. The Thunder have now won 11 of their past 14 games (9-5 ATS), and have beaten Houston three out of four times this season, winning those games by 22, 30 and 29 points. The Rockets have struggled all season on the road, producing a 16-26 SU record (17-24-1 ATS, 42%) while allowing 104.3 PPG to host teams. The Thunder have scored a hefty 108.8 PPG at home this season, tallying a 35-7 SU record (28-14 ATS, 67%) at Chesapeake Energy Arena. Although Houston is 9-5 SU (7- 7 ATS) with 2 days' rest this season, Oklahoma City is a perfect 8-0 SU (5-3 ATS) in this same scenario.
Houston's offense was outstanding all season with 106.0 PPG (2nd in NBA) on 46.1% FG and 36.6% three-pointers (both 9th-best in league), knocking down 10.6 threes per game (2nd in NBA). But in Game 1, the club shot 36% from the floor, including just 8-of-36 threes (22%), with nearly as many turnovers (15) as assists (17). Defensively, this Rockets team really struggles to stop opponents, allowing 102.5 PPG (3rd-worst in league) in the regular season. SG James Harden was the only Game 1 starter in double-figures with 20 points, but he made just 6-of-19 FG (1-of-6 threes) and posted a horrific minus-28 rating in his 34 minutes on the court. PF Greg Smith was even worse in this category with a minus-34 rating in just 17 minutes. Harden did have six rebounds though, and he should be able to bounce back against his former team, whom he averaged 29.3 PPG (44% FG) and 4.0 RPG in three meetings during the regular season. SF Chandler Parsons usually stuffs the stat sheet, entering this series with 23.5 PPG on 58% FG (4-of-11 threes) with 5.0 APG and 4.0 RPG in the final two games in the regular season. But he finished Game 1 with a pedestrian nine points, three rebounds, zero assists and minus-18 rating in 25 minutes. PG Jeremy Lin was awful in his postseason debut on Sunday, posting four points (1-of-7 FG, 0-for-4 threes), four assists, four turnovers and a minus-23 rating. Lin's confidence should have been pretty high after stringing together a strong month of April with 17.3 PPG (44% FG, 36% threes), 6.9 APG and a 2.70 Ast/TO ratio. C Omer Asik averaged a double-double versus Oklahoma City (10.0 PPG and 10.0 RPG) during the regular season, but fell just short of those marks on Sunday with nine points and seven rebounds in his 27 minutes. Although two players came off the bench to score double-figures on an identical 4-of-10 shooting -- PG Patrick Beverley (11 points, four assists) and SG Carlos Delfino (10 points) -- the duo combined for a minus-31 rating.
Like Houston, Oklahoma City possesses an outstanding offense, scoring 105.7 PPG (3rd in NBA) on a remarkable shooting accuracy of 48.1% FG (3rd in league) and 37.7% threes (also 3rd in NBA) during the regular season. The team shattered those marks in Game 1 with 120 points on 53% FG and 42% threes (10-for-24). The Thunder dished out more than twice as many assists (28) as turnovers (13) while also stepping up defensively with nine steals and nine blocked shots. They also won the rebounding battle, 46-39, and outscored the Rockets 50-46 in terms of points in the paint. SF Kevin Durant had his typical strong performance of 24 points (7-of-15 FG, 9-of-9 FT), six rebounds, four assists, two blocks, two steals and an unbelievable +34 rating. This effort wasn't a huge surprise though, considering he had his way against Houston in the regular season with 26.3 PPG (47% FG), 7.0 RPG and 5.7 APG. PG Russell Westbrook had been even better in the regular-season series with 23.3 PPG, 8.3 APG and 7.7 RPG, and he posted a near triple-double in Game 1 with 19 points, 10 assists and eight rebounds, leading to a +29 rating. PF Serge Ibaka was also highly efficient (+26 rating), pitching in 17 points (7-of-11 FG), seven rebounds and three blocks in his 27 minutes. He was also outstanding versus the Rockets in the regular season with 16.0 PPG (65% FG), 8.7 RPG and 4.0 blocks per contest. SG Kevin Martin (14.0 PPG) has been dealing with a minor back injury, which could have been a major factor in his 5-of-15 shooting night. However, Martin did not shoot very well against Houston during the regular season (41.5% FG), but still scored 17.0 PPG in the three meetings. Three other backcourt players all had solid games for the Thunder with nine points apiece, as SG Thabo Sefolosha recorded a +21 rating, PG Reggie Jackson had four assists and PG Derek Fisher drained 3-of-4 threes.
ATLANTA HAWKS (44-39) at INDIANA PACERS (50-32)
Sportsbook.ag Line & Total: Indiana -7 & 187
The Hawks will need to rally together and come back with a better performance in Wednesday's Game 2 after losing by 17 points to the Pacers in Sunday's series opener.
Indiana led 34-26 after the first quarter and the Hawks couldn’t make it any closer after that. The Pacers dominated the game from start to finish and it was in large part due to their excellent rebounding. They out-rebounded the Hawks 48-32 despite shooting just 44.9% from the field compared to Atlanta’s 50.0% FG. So far this season, the Pacers are 2-1 ATS at home versus the Hawks with their only non-cover being a six-point victory. They have owned Atlanta at home and this will continue to be the case as long as SF Paul George, coming off a triple-double in Game 1, and the rest of the Pacers continue to outwork their opponents.
Atlanta came out in Game 1 with a very poor effort, failing to do the little things necessary to win a game. The Hawks were destroyed on the glass, but that is something the team has dealt with all season, posting a poor minus-2.8 RPG margin (5th-worst in NBA). The best player on the floor for Atlanta in Game 1 was PG Jeff Teague, who finished with 21 points (7-of-14 FG) and seven assists. If the Hawks are going to win, however, they will need their big guys to play much better. SF Josh Smith was just 7-15 from the field on Sunday with 15 points, eight rebounds, four turnovers and a minus-21 rating. He will need to be more aggressive in attacking the rim as well as defending it, as Smith had zero blocks despite his 1.8 BPG during the regular season. C Al Horford will also need to make a bigger impact on the game as he saw just 28 minutes of playing time due to foul trouble early, as well as a lack of effectiveness. Horford was 7-for-12 from the field with 14 points and six rebounds, but turned the ball over three times and posted a minus-15 rating. His shooting wasn’t a problem, but he didn’t seem as engaged mentally as he has been in the past, pulling down zero offensive rebounds.
The hero of Game 1 was clearly SF Paul George, who played the best game of his career on national television. George, who was struggling coming into the playoffs, finished the game with 23 points, 12 assists and 11 rebounds. George shot poorly from the field (3-of-13), but was able to make 17-of-18 free throws. He was getting to the rim at will and drew fouls pretty much every time he wanted to. C Roy Hibbert was also a big factor in this contest as the Hawks don’t have anybody with the size to match up with him. Hibbert contributed 16 points (7-of-17 FG), eight rebounds and two blocks. SG Lance Stephenson played 41 minutes in Game 1, scoring 13 points on 5-of-9 shooting from the field. Stephenson did a little bit of everything, finishing with five rebounds, four assists, three steals and a game-high, +23 rating. Two other starters also played well, as PF David West scored 13 points with nine rebounds, while PG George Hill pumped in 18 points (7-of-10 FG) with a +19 rating.
LOS ANGELES LAKERS (45-38) at SAN ANTONIO SPURS (59-24)
Sportsbook.ag Line & Total: San Antonio -8.5 & 186.5
After a poor offensive showing in Game 1, the Lakers try to get their offense going when they attempt to even their first-round series in San Antonio on Wednesday night.
Los Angeles entered the playoffs on a hot streak, scoring 105.0 PPG on 46.1% FG during a five-game win streak to end the regular season. But its offense was completely shut down in Sunday's Game 1 when it tallied just 79 points on 41% FG and 3-of-15 threes. In five games without Kobe Bryant this season, the Lakers have scored only 91.6 PPG, well below the 101.9 PPG they average overall. The Spurs also struggled to shoot the basketball, making 37.6% FG and 7-of-22 threes. But they dominated in fast-break points (17 to 2), and committed just half (nine) the amount of turnovers the Lakers had on Sunday (18). L.A. is now 16-26 SU and 15-27 ATS (36%) on the road, and despite being a veteran club, is just 10-9 SU (8-10-1 ATS) with at least two days of rest this season. That's a big difference from San Antonio, which is 15-2 SU (10-7 ATS) with this much time off in between games. But the Spurs, who are 36-6 SU (86%) at AT&T Center, are just 2-7 ATS in their past nine home games, and 27-29-2 ATS (48%) following an SU win this season.
The Lakers' lack of offense was troubling in Game 1, considering during the regular season, they scored 102.2 PPG (6th in NBA) on 45.8% FG (10th in league) despite a subpar 35.5% threes (19th in NBA). The defense did play better than it usually does this season, where it allowed 101.0 PPG (9th-worst in NBA) on 45.3% FG (14th in league) and 35.7% threes (also 14th in NBA). C Dwight Howard and PF Pau Gasol have been carrying this team on their large shoulders, and Sunday was no different as Howard went for 20 points (8-of-12 FG), 15 rebounds and two blocks, but did commit four turnovers and five fouls in his 41 minutes. Gasol logged 43 minutes of action, scoring 16 points (7-of-16 FG) with 16 boards, six assists and two steals, but also six turnovers. While Gasol has 14.0 RPG in three games versus San Antonio this season, he has struggled offensively (11.0 PPG on 30% FG). Howard has been strong though, with 19.7 PPG and 15.7 RPG in three games versus the Spurs. SF Metta World Peace has still not regained his form after being out with a torn meniscus. He made just 35% FG for 7.0 PPG in 21.2 MPG in the final five games of the regular season, and started the postseason with five points (2-of-9 FG) and six rebounds in 32 minutes. The club did get a boost with SG Steve Nash back on the court after having missed eight straight games with a hamstring injury. The future Hall of Famer scored 16 points (6-of-15 FG), but dished out only three assists in his 29 minutes. PG Steve Blake pitched in 12 points (5-of-13 FG), but had just three assists, three turnovers, five fouls and a dismal minus-14 rating. His defense was strong though, producing four steals and two blocks. L.A.'s bench was horrible in Game 1, as the foursome of PF Antawn Jamison, SF Earl Clark, PG Darius Morris and SG Jodie Meeks combined for 10 points (2-of-8 FG) and a minus-44 rating over 56 minutes.
San Antonio is usually a great offensive team, scoring 103.0 PPG (4th in NBA) on 48.1% FG (2nd in league) and 37.6% threes (4th in NBA) during the regular season. The club also led the NBA in assists (25.1 APG) and ranked second in Ast/TO ratio (1.78), and ball protection was a big part of their 12-point win on Sunday, as the Spurs tallied 20 assists and only nine turnovers. Defensively, they were also pretty strong in the regular season, giving up only 96.6 PPG (11th in NBA) on 44.2% FG (8th in league) and 35.3% threes (12th in NBA). Their 8.5 steals per game ranked 6th-best in the league, and they produced a hefty 12 steals in the Game 1 victory. The team continues to be led by PG Tony Parker and PF Tim Duncan. Parker has been bothered with neck and ankle injuries this month, but appeared to be healthy on Sunday when he scored 18 points (8-of-21 FG) with eight assists, three steals and a +12 rating. Duncan produced a double-double of 17 points and 10 rebounds, while also adding three steals and a strong +11 rating. Duncan has a well-rounded stat line of 16.5 PPG, 9.0 RPG, 3.5 APG and 2.8 BPG in four meetings with the Lakers this season. SG Manu Ginobili has had a poor season, due mostly to injuries, but he was outstanding in Game 1 with 18 points (6-of-13 FG, 3-of-5 threes) and a game-high +19 rating in just 19 minutes. PF Matt Bonner also played well off the bench with 10 points, five rebounds and a +18 rating in 29 minutes. This reserve duo helped make up for a lackluster starting trio of C Tiago Splitter, SF Kawhi Leonard and SG Danny Green, which combined for 16 points on 5-of-18 shooting (28%). Leonard did help his team down low though, with 11 boards and two blocks.
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