Heat, Spurs look for 2-0 leads
April 22, 2014
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Charlotte (43-40) at Miami (55-28)
Eastern Conference First Round Game 2 - Miami leads series 1-0
Tip-off: Wednesday, 7:05 p.m. ET
Sportsbook.ag Line: Miami -10, Total: 186
The double-digit underdog Bobcats look to even up their first-round series with the Heat in Wednesday's Game 2 in South Beach.
Charlotte hung in Sunday's series opener for the first half and led 34-28 midway through the second quarter, but after that it was all Miami, which ended the game on a 71-54 run to win 99-88 as a 10.5-point home favorite. The Heat have now defeated the Bobcats in 17 straight meetings (11-5-1 ATS) between these teams, with the past 11 coming by an average of 15.9 PPG. Over the past three seasons, Miami is 9-3 ATS overall, including 5-2 ATS when hosting in this series.
Center Al Jefferson (foot) has missed practice in the two off-days in between games, but will play for Charlotte in Game 2. The Bobcats have responded to losses well this season, going 26-12-1 ATS (68%) after an SU defeat, and are also up against a team that is a dismal 9-22 ATS (29%) in home games after a cover as a double-digit favorite since 1996. But the Heat are a strong 32-17 ATS (65%) after failing to cover three of their previous four games ATS over the past two seasons, and they know how important it is to keep their home-court advantage with a win on Wednesday, so Charlotte should not expect any type of letdown from this experienced group.
The Bobcats played a solid first half of basketball on Sunday, but they ultimately couldn’t get over the injury to C Al Jefferson (21.8 PPG, 10.8 RPG) that left him hobbling for the rest of the game. Jefferson had 18 points and 10 rebounds in the loss, but his plantar fasciitis was acting up and had him struggling to play defense and run up the court. Kemba Walker (17.7 PPG, 6.1 APG, 4.2 RPG) had 20 points and six assists in the game, but will need to play a little smarter in Game 2 if Charlotte is going to even up the series. Walker had six turnovers, and taking care of the ball against Miami is a must.
One player who made plays when the Bobcats needed him was SG Gary Neal (10.5 PPG). Neal is a guy with tons of playoff experience from his time with San Antonio, and he came off the bench to give Charlotte 17 points (7-of-16 FG) and three rebounds in 28 minutes. They will need his shooting throughout the series to avoid being swept. PF Josh McRoberts (8.5 PPG, 4.8 RPG, 4.3 APG) played a nice Game 1 offensively with 15 points (6-of-9 FG, 3-of-5 threes), seven rebounds and four assists. If he is knocking down his shots and helping to win the rebounding battle (44-38) and points in paint (38-34) like in Game 1, the Bobcats will be very competitive in these games.
The Heat looked sluggish in the first half of Game 1, but were absolutely dominant in the second half. SF LeBron James (27.1 PPG, 6.9 RPG, 6.4 APG) finished with 27 points and nine rebounds, and was too much physically for the Bobcats forwards. James should continue to dominate this series while opening up the floor for his teammates to succeed as well, but he needs to be a better distributor after recording just one assist and three turnovers on Sunday.
SG Dwyane Wade (19.0 PPG, 4.7 APG, 4.5 RPG) looked like his old self, finishing with 23 points (10-of-16 FG) and five assists. He was putting on a clinic from inside the three-point line and Charlotte had no answer. One player who really stepped it up for the Heat was reserve SF James Jones (4.9 PPG). Jones wasn’t in the rotation for the entire season, but he is making the most of his playing time now. In 14 minutes of action, Jones finished with 12 points (4-of-6 FG, 2-of-3 threes) and three rebounds.
Another Miami player that had a huge game off the bench was PF Chris Andersen (6.6 PPG, 5.3 PPG), who scored eight points with 10 rebounds as part of a game-high +28 rating in his 22 minutes. PF Chris Bosh (16.2 PPG, 6.6 RPG) had 13 points (4-of-13 FG) and four rebounds in 34 minutes in Game 1. Bosh, however, was rather inefficient and will need to be more aggressive going forward. Miami has no chance of completing its three-peat if Bosh is not playing like the All-Star he is.
Dallas (49-34) at San Antonio (63-20)
Western Conference First Round Game 2 - San Antonio leads series 1-0
Tip-off: Wednesday, 8:05 p.m. ET
Sportsbook.ag Line:San Antonio -8, Total: 198
Last season’s Western Conference champions continue their trek back to the NBA Finals when they host the Mavericks in Game 2 of the first round on Wednesday.
Game 1 was close throughout as San Antonio defeated Dallas by a score of 90-85 while failing to cover the nine-point spread. The Spurs were down by as much as 10 points in the final quarter but then forced the Mavs to miss 12 straight shots to complete their comeback. Dallas did do well keeping San Antonio from defeating them from the three-point line though, holding them to a meager 3-for-17 from long range after allowing them to hit 16-of-34 in their previous meeting, which San Antonio won 109-100 on the road. The Mavericks also struggled getting to the foul line, making just 9-of-13 shots from the charity stripe.
They are 23-19 SU on the road this season, while going an impressive 28-14 ATS (67%, 2nd in NBA). Meanwhile, their opponent has been one of the best home teams this season, posting a 33-9 SU record at AT&T Center with a 20-22 ATS mark. These two clubs have squared off 13 times over the past three seasons with the Spurs being a dominant 11-2 SU (9-4 ATS) while winning all five of the contests SU (3-2 ATS) this season. But Dallas is a tough team to beat twice in a row, going 23-10 SU and 21-12 ATS (64%) when following a loss this season. However, San Antonio is 45-24 ATS (65%) when playing only its second game in five days over the past three seasons. The only possible injury to watch for in this contest is that of Tim Duncan’s knee, which has left him as probable.
SG Manu Ginobili's wife gave birth to their third child on Monday, but the star reserve is still expected to play on Wednesday.
The Mavericks have depended on PF Dirk Nowitzki for his entire career, and he shot just 4-for-14 in the first game of this series, finishing with 11 points, eight boards and two blocks. That was a far cry from what he's done overall in his postseason career (129 games), where he has averaged 25.8 PPG (46% FG) and 10.2 RPG. But his 20.9 PPG (45% FG) that he has scored against San Antonio over 61 career games (56 starts) is actually his third-lowest average against any team in the league.
SG Monta Ellis had one assist in just two games during the regular season and put that many up on Sunday afternoon, leading to a game-worst rating of minus-23. He also shot just 4-for-14 in the game to score 11 points, and has scored 19.7 PPG (44% FG) to go along with 4.0 APG over his 26 career games (22 starts) when facing the Spurs.
PG Devin Harris was the team’s leading scorer and passer in the first contest with 19 points (8-of-16 FG, 3-of-7 threes) and five assists, which was a big improvement over his usual playoff performances, as he has put up just 9.3 PPG (45% FG) in his 49 career postseason games (31 starts). During the regular season, Ellis faced San Antonio just twice, averaging 8.0 PPG while going 4-for-17 from the field.
The Mavs also got nice contributions from three other reserves, PF Brandan Wright (11 points, 3 assists, 2 steals), SG Vince Carter (10 points, 5 rebounds) and SF Jae Crowder (6 points, 4 rebounds, +16 rating in just 12 minutes)
The Spurs run one of the most efficient and non-selfish offenses in the NBA this season and they proved that once again on Sunday when they completely dominated points in the paint by a 56-32 margin, and had three players with at least 17 in the game. PF Tim Duncan dominated with 27 points (12-of-20 FG), seven rebounds and game-high +24 rating in his 212th career postseason game. In that time, he has averaged 21.9 PPG (50% FG), 11.9 RPG and 2.4 BPG while doing very well in his four games against Dallas in the regular season as well (18.5 PPG, 12.5 RPG).
PG Tony Parker played 30+ minutes for the first time since March 31, as he was on the floor for 34 minutes in Game 1 and poured in 21 points (9-of-16 FG), six assists, four rebounds and a +20 rating. The postseason has always been a time when Parker shines brightest, putting up 19.1 PPG (46% FG) with 5.3 APG over his 174 career playoff games. He’s also done very well over 46 career regular-season games (17.9 PPG, 4.9 APG) against the Mavericks and will once again play a vital role in how far the Spurs go this season.
SG Manu Ginobili finishes off San Antonio’s big three, and he hit only 4-of-10 shots (3-of-7 threes) in Game 1 while making all six of his free-throw attempts to finish with 17 points and six boards, but he also committed four of his team's 10 turnovers. With 158 career playoff games (52 starts), Ginobili is the least experienced of the three, but he has averaged 15.6 PPG (44% FG), 4.4 RPG and 3.9 APG over that time.
The Spurs got little else from their bench on Sunday though, as the other five reserves combined for just six points on 3-of-16 FG and a minus-45 rating combined. SF Kawhi Leonard (11 points, 10 boards) and C Tiago Splitter (8 points, 11 boards, 2 steals) were also big reasons why the team owned the paint in Game 1.
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