Wednesday Playoff Tips
April 30, 2013
By Kevin Rogers
The three home teams taking the court on Wednesday night own a combined 6-0 SU and 5-1 ATS record in games playing in their backyard in the NBA playoffs. The Knicks and Thunder can each advance to the second round with a victory, while the Pacers try to get on track after dropping a pair of games at Atlanta. We'll begin in the Big Apple with New York looking to finish off Boston after the Celtics survived another day with a Game 4 triumph.
Celtics at Knicks (-8, 180) - 7:05 PM EST - TNT
New York dominated Boston through the first three games, but couldn't pull off the sweep in Sunday's overtime defeat at TD Garden. The Celtics squandered a 20-point cushion, as the Knicks forced overtime with a 49-30 second half run. However, Jason Terry stepped up in the extra session by knocking down several key jumpers, including a three-pointer on a fast break to give Boston the lead for good to avoid the sweep.
Carmelo Anthony dominated the Celtics through the first three victories for New York, as the NBA scoring champion scored 36 points on 35 shots from the floor in the 97-90 loss. The Celtics managed a cover as 1 ½-point home 'dogs, while the game finished 'over' the total of 181 ½, the first game that didn't go 'under' in the entire series. The two Celtics that stepped up to dodge an early exit were Paul Pierce and Jeff Green, who combined to score 55 points, while Boston's defense held New York to just 34% shooting from the floor.
The Knicks will receive some scoring punch from J.R. Smith in Game 5, who returns after serving his one-game suspension for elbowing Terry in Game 3. New York is riding a 12-game winning streak at Madison Square Garden, dating back to early March (10-2 ATS). The only way for the Celtics to survive and move the series back to Boston is consistency in both halves. Doc Rivers' club has gone through 25, 23, 31, and 30 point halves in this series, including second half 'unders' in both games played at Madison Square Garden.
Hawks at Pacers (-7, 188) - 8:05 PM EST - NBATV
The forgotten series in the Eastern Conference is the lone one that is tied at two games apiece. The home team is a perfect 4-0 SU/ATS so far after the Hawks grabbed a pair of double-digit victories at Philips Arena to put the series back at square one. The Atlanta defense rose to the challenge after allowing an average of 110 points per game in the first two losses by limiting Indiana to a combined 160 points in the last two wins.
For the exception of a clunker in the third quarter (3-of-21 from the floor), the Hawks held control for the majority of Monday's 102-91 triumph to even the series at 2-2. The game was on the verge of going 'under' the total of 187 ½, but a late 10-point outburst on four consecutive possessions shattered any hopes of the second 'under' in the series. Josh Smith paced the Hawks with a game-high 29 points, while Kyle Korver drilled five three-pointers off the bench to give Atlanta its 12th consecutive home victory over Indiana.
Now the Pacers have to search for the offense that led them to a pair of blowouts in the first two games of this series. The only constant for Indiana is Paul George, who hasn't scored less than 16 points in any of the four games so far. However, George Hill averaged 20 points per game in the first two wins, but the point guard scored a combined 15 points in the two losses. Frank Vogel's squad owns an 8-3 SU and 7-4 ATS record at home off a defeat, while the Hawks are 4-7 ATS the last 11 games as a road.
Rockets at Thunder (-8 ½, 208) - 9:35 PM EST - TNT
Houston couldn't close out a victory in Games 2 and 3 of this series, but finally broke through the win column in Game 4. Serge Ibaka's missed layup at the buzzer cemented Houston's first victory in its first round series with Oklahoma City, 105-103 as 1 ½-point home underdogs. The two teams combined for just 33 points in the final quarter, barely hitting the 'over' of 206 ½, while the 'over' cashed for the first time in the series.
Kevin Durant shot an efficient 12-of-16 from the floor, as the NBA's second-leading scorer put up a game-high 38 points in his second game without fellow All-Star Russell Westbrook. Former Thunder teammate James Harden converted just four of 12 shots from the field, while turning the ball over 10 times in spite of the win. Chandler Parsons picked up the slack by scoring a playoff career-high 27 points, lifting the Rockets to their first postseason triumph since 2009.
The Thunder has won 12 of the last 13 games off a road loss dating back to Christmas, while posting a 10-3 ATS record. Scott Brooks' team owns a 7-1 ledger to the 'under' at home the last eight home contests, while holding six opponents to 95 points or less. The Rockets are 2-5 ATS the past seven opportunities as a road underdog, while their last road win against an above .500 team coming at Golden State on March 8.
You can reach Kevin Rogers via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
Kevin Rogers can be followed on Twitter at virogers.
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