Four teams faced postseason elimination last night and three of the clubs stayed alive. As expected, Indiana dropped Orlando and Chicago's victory (77-69) over Philadelphia wasn't that surprising either, considering it was playing at home and favored (-5) as well. Atlanta did everything it could to lose, but Boston couldn't capitalize and the pair will now play a Game 6 tomorrow from TD Garden.
Denver was the lone underdog (+6) to win outright (+250) last night as it held off the Lakers 102-99 at Staples Center in what was the most entertaining game of this year's playoffs. The performances by Denver's Andre Miller (24 points, 8 assists) and JaVale McGee (21 points, 14 rebounds) was just enough to get past the Lakers and Kobe Bryant, who poured in 43 points and a late-game barrage that gave everybody a glimpse of how great he is.
If you believe the three teams (Bulls, Hawks, Nuggets) can survive another day and possibly win a decisive Game 7, then look at the adjusted series prices. Chicago (+245) and Atlanta (+420) would be playing at home, while Denver (+425) would have to beat the Lakers in a potential Game 7 from Los Angeles.
Sportsbook.ag has put up odds on potential matchups for this year's NBA Finals and to no surprise Miami is listed in all three of the top choices and the return is decent too. Below are the top 10 choices according to the odds.
|Heat vs. Spurs
|Heat vs. Thunder
|Heat vs. Lakers
|Celtics vs. Spurs
|Celtics vs. Thunder
|Heat vs. Clippers
|Pacers vs. Spurs
|Celtics vs. Lakers
|Pacers vs. Thunder
|Heat vs. Grizzlies
New York at Miami (TNT, 7:05 p.m. ET)
The Heat had every opportunity to notch a first-round sweep on Sunday but they came up short as New York earned an 89-87 victory in Game 4. The Knicks got a huge effort from Carmelo Anthony, who scored 12 of his 41 points in the fourth quarter and Amare Stoudemire also stepped up in the win after missing Game 3 with a hand injury, adding 20 points and 10 rebounds.
Miami still holds a commanding 3-1 lead and as the series heads back to South Beach, oddsmakers opened the Heat as 11-point favorites for Game 5 and the line has held steady.
The number appears to be fair, considering Miami beat New York by 33, 10 and 17 points in the first three games. Plus, the Knicks have been plagued by the injury bug in this series, especially in the backcourt. After losing Iman Shumpert to a knee injury in Game 1, the club lost Baron Davis to a knee injury on Sunday. There was hope that Jeremy Lin could return Wednesday but head coach Mike Woodson ruled him out for the series after the latest medical evaluation, which means Mike Bibby will get the start in Game 5.
If you’re looking for a reason to back New York for the cover on Wednesday, you could point to its defense. After watching the Heat put up 100 and 104 at home, the club was held to 87 points in each of the two games played at Madison Square Garden.
Plus, Miami appears to be lacking late-game chemistry and their coaching decisions have been a little confusing. For starters, LeBron James wasn’t checking Anthony in the final minutes and the final shot was given to Dwyane Wade after LeBron carried them the entire day with 27 points. Plus, gamblers should note that Wade was 4-of-11 from the free throw line in the two-point loss.
Since the number is healthy and the Knicks are short-handed, the ‘over/under’ could be the better look for Wednesday. Total players have watched the ‘under’ go 3-1 through the first four games and the number for Game 5 is hovering between 182 and 183 points. Game 2 was the only contest (104-94) that went ‘over’ and that was aided by good shooting performances from both the Knicks (49.4%) and Heat (52.1%).
In the seven meetings this season, New York has never busted the century mark on Miami and only eclipsed 90 on one occasion, which came in the aforementioned second game of this series. Miami has been a clear-cut ‘under’ team all season (42-26) and that includes a current 16-4 run in its last 20 games.
In case you’re wondering, the NBA is the only sports league, NHL and MLB being the others, remaining that has never seen a team win a series after facing a 0-3 deficit. If you believe the Knicks can win three more against the Heat, then perhaps you should look at the adjusted series price. The offshore outfit 5Dimes.com has New York listed as an 80/1 longshot (Bet $100 to win $8,000) to win the series.
If necessary, Game 6 will be played on Friday at Madison Square Garden.
L.A. Clippers at Memphis (TNT, 9:35 p.m. ET)
Even though most of the opening round series have been duds, this best-of-seven battle has been very competitive despite the Clippers’ 3-1 edge over the Grizzlies. Every game has been decided by single digits and the three wins by Los Angeles were by a combined six points, which includes Monday’s 101-97 overtime victory in Game 4.
On Monday, the Grizzlies rallied from a five-point deficit in the fourth quarter to force the extra session but the Clippers outscored them 14-10 in overtime for the win. Los Angeles closed as a two-point favorite and fortunately for ‘over’ bettors, the added five minutes helped cash their tickets.
The ‘over’ has gone 3-1 in this series but playing the total can be frustrating just because of the missed free throws by the Clippers. In Game 4, Los Angeles finished 28-of-40 from the stripe, which was an improvement from the 13-of-30 performance in Game 3.
Despite the ‘over’ run in this series, the total is still hovering around the same neighborhood of 183 points. During the regular season, the ‘under’ went 3-0 and all of the totals were listed at 186 and up.
While the total has switched gears in the playoffs from the ‘under’ to the ‘over,’ the same cannot be said for the side. The home team has won six of the seven encounters and the lone loss came in Game 1 of this series when the Clippers rallied from a 27-point deficit to steal the first installment (99-98).
Memphis did rebound from that collapse in Game 2 as it earned a seven-point (105-98) win over Los Angeles. The Grizzlies might’ve pushed for some players but most shops closed them as 6 ½-point favorites, which is close to the Game 5 opener of six.
The Grizz are minus-290 (Bet $290 to win $100) on the money-line for Game 5, while you can get 5/2 odds (Bet $100 to win $250) on the Clippers to close out the series.
Instead of laying a healthy price on Wednesday’s money-line with Memphis or toying with the point-spread on Game 5, the adjusted series price could be the better investment. The Grizzlies are listed at a plus-295 (Bet $100 to win $295) price. Winning three straight against any team isn’t an easy task but two of the games would be played at FedEx Forum.
If necessary, Game 6 will be played on Friday from the Staples Center.
Chris David can be reached at email@example.com