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Wednesday Playoff Tips

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The first home team finally fell last night as the Nuggets were run by the Warriors at the Pepsi Center. Three road clubs look to break through tonight and even up their series as the Rockets, Hawks, and Lakers all look to rebound from double-digit defeats. We'll start in Oklahoma City with the defending Western Conference champions seeking another blowout.

Rockets at Thunder (-11, 212) - 7:05 PM EST

Three seasons ago, Oklahoma City qualified for the playoffs as the eighth seed before getting eliminated by the Lakers. Now, the Thunder is the team to beat in the Western Conference as OKC looks for a 2-0 edge in the first round after a 120-91 rout of Houston to cash as 10 ½-point favorites. OKC jumped out to a 13-2 edge, but the Rockets rallied back to tie things up at 38-38 apiece halfway through the second quarter. However, the Thunder started the runaway with a 22-9 run over the final six minutes of the half to open up a 13-point edge and would never look back.

James Harden scored a team-high 20 points on 6-of-19 shooting against his former team, but the Rockets received just 13 points from Jeremy Lin and Chandler Parsons combined. The Thunder had its way against the Rockets from the floor, knocking down 53% of their shots, including 10 three-pointers. Past Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook putting up a total of 43 points, six other members of the Thunder scored at least eight points in the rout.

Oklahoma City has now taken three of four meetings from Houston this season by at least 20 points, but finished 'under' the total for the first time. The Rockets own a dreadful 2-5 SU and 1-6 ATS record the last seven games, while compiling a 1-4 ATS record the previous five opportunities as a road underdog. The Thunder has put together an incredible 12-2 ATS mark the last 14 games as a double-digit home favorite, while not losing once at home when laying that amount of points this season.

Hawks at Pacers (-7, 187) - 7:35 PM EST

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Atlanta faltered down the stretch to avoid Brooklyn (and potentially Miami in the second round), dropping the Hawks to the sixth seed. Maybe the Hawks want to re-think that strategy after getting chased by the Pacers in the series opener, 107-90 as seven-point road underdogs. Atlanta shot 50% from the floor, but Indiana countered that by down knocking down 30-of-34 from the free throw line.

Paul George compiled his first career triple-double for the Pacers with 23 points, 11 rebounds, and 12 assists, while being the benefactor of plenty of fouls by the Hawks by hitting 17-of-18 foul shots. All five Pacers' starters put up double-figures, but the contributions off the bench from Tyler Hansbrough (9 points) and Gerald Green (11 points) helped finish off the victory. Josh Smith sprained his ankle in the second half of Sunday's loss, but the Hawks' forward is expected to play tonight.

The home team has won nine of the last 10 meetings in the series, including a 5-0 SU and 3-2 ATS record this season. The 'over' has hit in four straight matchups between the Hawks and Pacers, while Indiana is riding a 7-2 stretch to the 'over' the last nine games overall. Even though Indiana was on cruise control to wrap up the regular season, Sunday's cover was just the second in the last nine games. Atlanta hasn't much better lately with a 2-8 ATS record the past 10 trips to the court, but six of those ATS losses came in the role of a favorite.

Lakers at Spurs (-8 ½, 187) - 9:35 PM EST

Los Angeles thought the hardest part of the season was making the playoffs after starting 17-25. The Lakers found a way to put together an impressive run to qualify for the postseason, but playing without leading scorer Kobe Bryant is a whole new task after getting limited to 79 points in the series opening loss at San Antonio.

The Spurs cruised to a 91-79 victory to take a 1-0 series advantage over Los Angeles, while grabbing their first cover in eight games. San Antonio didn't shoot particularly well from the floor (37%), but received solid contributions off the bench from Manu Ginobili (18 points) and Matt Bonner (10 points). The Lakers' reserves provided basically no help with just 10 points total, but Pau Gasol and Dwight Howard did combine for 31 rebounds in the Los Angeles frontcourt.

With or without Bryant, the Lakers struggled all season in the role of a road underdog, owning a 5-15 ATS record when receiving points on the highway. The 79-point output in Game 1 was the fewest scored on the road this season for the Lakers and the second-fewest overall (77 points vs. Indiana in late November). San Antonio improved to 4-15 ATS the last 19 games, but that's a tough record to take at face value due to the Spurs relegated themselves to the second seed in the West.

You can reach Kevin Rogers via e-mail at rogers@vegasinsider.com

Kevin Rogers can be followed on Twitter at virogers.

  
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