Monday's Playoff Tips
April 29, 2013
By Kevin Rogers
The Heat and Spurs have already advanced to the second round with sweeps, as the Bulls and Thunder are looking to join that class tonight with victories. Chicago heads to Brooklyn after its epic triple-overtime triumph on Saturday, while Oklahoma City battles Houston at the Toyota Center. We'll begin in Atlanta as the Pacers look to rebound from a horrible performance in Game 3.
Pacers at Hawks (-1 ½, 186) - 7:35 PM EST - NBATV
This series hasn't been very competitive even though Atlanta has a chance to even things up at 2-2 with a home win tonight. The Hawks routed the Pacers from start to finish on Saturday night, 90-69 to cash easily as two-point favorites. Indiana shot a dreadful 27% from the field, while putting up just 30 points in the first half. Atlanta actually shot its worst percentage from the floor in the series (42%), but Al Horford stepped up with a 26-point, 16-rebound effort to give the Hawks their 12th straight home victory over the Pacers.
Now, Indiana needs to find a way to win in Atlanta for the first time since 2007, while its starting backcourt of George Hill and Lance Stephenson combined to shoot 2-of-15 for seven points in Game 3. In six of the last seven visits to Philips Arena, the Pacers have been limited to 93 points or below. Since Frank Vogel took over as head coach in 2011, Indiana has won just three of eight road postseason games, with two of those victories coming against Orlando in the opening round last season.
The Hawks snapped a seven-game ATS skid at home with Saturday's blowout, while posting a 7-2 mark to the 'under' the last nine contests at Philips Arena. Since Game 2 of the first round in 2010, Atlanta owns an incredible 13-2 record to the 'under' at home, with the two 'overs' hitting against Chicago in 2011 on totals of 178.
Bulls at Nets (-5 ½, 180) - 7:05 PM EST - TNT
Even though this is the early tip-off tonight, we had to give them some more to time to breathe after Saturday's incredible comeback by Chicago. Even though it took three overtimes, the Bulls rallied from a late 14-point deficit thanks to Nate Robinson's one-man show, scoring 29 points in the final 17 minutes to win 142-134. Chicago may have buried Brooklyn with a 3-1 series edge, but the Nets can send the series back to the United Center with a victory tonight.
Back to Saturday's classic, as the game cashed the 'over' for the first time since Game 1, but don't be misled by the final score. Things were tied at 111-111 at the end of regulation, the first time since 2010 these two teams each eclipsed the 100-point mark in a meeting. Both clubs shot well on Saturday, but the Nets doomed themselves with a 29-of-45 performance from the charity stripe.
The Bulls cashed as 2 ½-point favorites on Saturday, but no team has covered in consecutive games in this series. Does that mean an automatic look at Brooklyn tonight? The Nets own a modest 4-0 ATS record the last four games off an ATS loss, while winning each of their last three home games off a defeat by an average of eight points. Since the All-Star break, the Bulls are a coin-toss proposition as a road 'dog, posting an 8-8 ATS mark.
Thunder (-1 ½, 206) at Rockets - 9:35 PM EST - TNT
Oklahoma City's chance at repeating as Western Conference champions took a major hit with Russell Westbrook's knee injury, which sidelines the All-Star guard for the remainder of the postseason. However, the Thunder is one win away from advancing to the second round after holding off the Rockets on Saturday, 104-101 to take a commanding 3-0 series advantage.
The victory didn't come without drama, as OKC squandered a 26-point edge, but Kevin Durant stepped up by scoring 41 points, including a divine intervention three-pointer to put the Thunder up for good in the final minute. The game finished shy of the 206 ½-point total, even though the two teams combined for 115 points in the opening half. The Rockets received solid performances off the bench from Francisco Garcia and Carlos Delfino, who combined to knock down seven three-pointers, but Houston shot just 12-of-37 from long-distance.
Jeremy Lin is listed as questionable with a chest injury that limited the Rockets' guard to two points in 18 minutes of Game 3. All three games of this series have finished 'under' the total, but Game 1 and Game 3 each ended three points shy of an 'over.' This is only the third time the Thunder has been listed as a road favorite in the playoffs, winning against the Lakers and Mavericks last postseason. The Rockets are 11-2 to the 'under' the last 13 home contests, with the two 'overs' coming against defenseless Sacramento and Orlando.
You can reach Kevin Rogers via e-mail at email@example.com
Kevin Rogers can be followed on Twitter at virogers.
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