The Eastern Conference playoffs are a toss-up right now, while the Western Conference seems like a collision course for Oklahoma City and San Antonio to meet in the Finals. The Spurs cruised to their 15th straight victory in the Game 1 rout of the Clippers, as the two teams hook up on Thursday for the second contest in the conference semifinals. We'll start in Indianapolis with a series that has taken an interesting turn following a choppy ending to Game 2.
Heat at Pacers - 7:05 PM EST (ESPN)
The absence of Chris Bosh due to an abdominal injury sure took a toll on Miami's offensive flow as the Heat were tripped up by the Pacers in Game 2. Indiana pulled out a 78-75 victory to even the series up at a game apiece, while cashing as 6 ½-point road underdogs. The big concerns past replacing Bosh's production are whether or not this team can count on LeBron James and Dwyane Wade down the stretch.
It sounds ridiculous to think a three-time MVP and a Finals MVP can't recover with Bosh on the shelf, but James and Wade missed key shots in the final minutes of the Game 2 defeat. James failed to convert on four free throws in the final quarter, while Wade's layup attempt came up short to tie the game with 16 seconds remaining. The key for Indiana was a 28-14 third quarter run to erase a five-point halftime deficit. Four of five Pacers' starters finished in double-figures, led by David West, who scored 16 points and pulled down 10 rebounds.
Miami's outside shooting is downright abysmal through two games, as the Heat has knocked down a grand total of one three-pointer in 22 attempts. The Pacers took advantage of Bosh's injury on the boards by outrebounding the Heat, 50-40 in Game 2, including double-digit rebound efforts from West, Roy Hibbert, and Paul George. The 'under' of 186 easily cashed, while the Heat are 8-1-1 to the 'under' without Bosh in the lineup this season.
Erik Spoelstra's club is 5-2 to the 'under' in the postseason, as the Heat has allowed 89 points or less five times. Indiana split a pair of regular season meetings with Miami at Bankers' Life Fieldhouse by exactly the same 105-90 count both ways. The home victory by the Pacers on March 26 came as 3 ½-point underdogs as Indiana shot 46% from the floor and outrebounded the Heat, 49-33.
The Pacers opened up as a one-point favorite, but the line has swung in Miami's favor as the number is creeping up to 1 ½ and even two at several shops as of this morning. The odds have significantly dropped from a series standpoint as the Heat were -900 at the beginning of this round, but now Miami can be bet at -300 to advance to the conference finals.
From a player prop standpoint, Sportsbook listed the over/under on James' points at 29 ½ (shaded to the 'over' at -125), while Wade's combined points and assists is listed also at 29 ½ (shaded to the 'over' at -135).
Clippers at Spurs - 9:35 PM (ESPN)
San Antonio continues to roll after routing Los Angeles in Tuesday's Game 1 of the conference semifinals, 108-92 as 11-point favorites. The Spurs go for their 16th consecutive victory since April 12, as Gregg Popovich's club owns a 13-1-1 ATS record in this stretch. The Clippers are listed as heavy underdogs once again in Game 2, but things won't ease up on Thursday for the fifth seed in the West.
Things were tied up after one quarter in the opener, but the Spurs jumped out to an eight-point halftime lead thanks to a 28-20 second quarter spurt. In a game which the two star point guards in Chris Paul and Tony Parker combined for 13 points on 4-for-22 shooting, San Antonio received 31 points from the unheralded duo of Danny Green and Kawhi Leonard. The reliable pair of Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili put up 48 points, while the Spurs drilled 13 treys in the victory.
The Clippers have struggled from the line all season, but the frontcourt of Blake Griffin and DeAndre Jordan attempted just four free throws, while the entire team went to the line 13 times. The Spurs improved to 18-1 SU and 11-7-1 ATS the last 19 home meetings against the Clippers dating back to 2002, as the 'over' is now 9-1 the previous 10 matchups at the AT&T Center.
Since losing outright to the Lakers as 10 ½-point favorites on April 11, the Spurs are a perfect 8-0 SU/ATS the last eight home contests, while sailing over the 100-point mark each time. The Clippers profited on the road off a loss this season, posting a 10-6 SU/ATS record, as Vinny Del Negro's club is 11-2 to the 'over' the last 13 games in this situation.
San Antonio is obviously a huge favorite to win this series, but that number skyrocketed to -4000 following the Game 1 rout. After Paul struggled to score in the opener, Sportsbook listed his total points in Game 2 at 19 ½ (-110 both ways). On the Spurs' side of intriguing player props for tonight, Duncan's total points and rebounds is set at 26 (shaded to the 'over' at -125).
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