Thursday's Playoff Tips
April 30, 2014
By Brian Edwards
**Pacers at Hawks**
-- The top-seeded team in the Eastern Conference finds itself on the brink of elimination Thursday night at Philips Arena. Indiana (58-29 straight up, 40-46-1 against the spread) fell behind 3-2 to Atlanta in its best-of-seven series by losing at home to the Hawks for the third time in 22 days.
-- Atlanta (41-46 SU, 41-45-1 ATS) led by 30 at one point in Monday's 107-97 win as a seven-point underdog. The Hawks hooked up money-line backers with a sweet payout in the +260 range. The Game 5 triumph was sparked by an incredible second-quarter shooting display from Mike Scott, who came off the bench and buried four treys in a 76-second stretch. Scott drained five 3-balls in the second quarter alone and scored all 17 of his points in the stanza. Shelvin Mack had 13 points in the second quarter and went on to score a team-best 20 points to go with five assists, two steals and just one turnover. Paul Millsap added 18 points and eight rebounds, while DeMare Carroll and Jeff Teague chipped in with 15 and 12 points, respectively.
-- In the Game 5 defeat, Paul George produced a game-high 26 points, 12 rebounds, six assists and six steals. However, Roy Hibbert didn't score or pull down a rebound and was whistled for four fouls in only 12 minutes of playing time. You have to wonder if Frank Vogel, whose job is clearly on the line here, will put the Georgetown product back on the court the rest of the series. David West, Lance Stephenson and George Hill finished with 16 points apiece in Game 5.
-- Sportsbook.ag has updated the series price and now has the Hawks as -175 favorites. The Pacers are +155 on the comeback (risk $100 to win $185).
-- As of early Wednesday night, most betting shops had the Pacers listed as one-point favorites with a total of 187.
-- The 'over' is 46-40-1 overall for the Hawks this year, but the 'under' has cashed in five consecutive head-to-head meetings between these rivals in games played at Atlanta.
-- The 'under' is 3-2 in this series, cashing in Games 2, 3, and 4.
-- The 'under' is 47-37-3 overall for the Pacers this season, but the 'over' is 21-20-3 in their road assignments.
-- On the verge of this potential upset, you would think the city of Atlanta would be embracing the Hawks? Well, at least the local media, right? Wrong. As I just went to the sports page at AJC.com at 4:45 p.m. Eastern, there were six top stories posted atop the page. Two were on the Falcons and the NFL Draft, one was on the Braves, there was one apiece for UGA and Georgia Tech football recruiting and another about Nick Saban and other college coaches playing golf?! Really???
-- The Hawks remain 75/1 longshots to win the NBA title at both Sportsbook.ag and 5Dimes. Correction: Atlanta remains at 75/1 at 5Dimes, but Sportsbook.ag has moved it from 75/1 to 50/1 in the last few hours (at some point Wednesday afternoon).
-- Tip-off is scheduled for 7:05 p.m. Eastern on NBA TV, which is channel 216 on DirecTV and 156 on DISH Network.
**Thunder at Grizzlies**
-- For the first time in NBA history, a postseason series has had four straight overtime games. In Tuesday's Game 5 at Oklahoma City, the Thunder and Grizzlies needed an extra session to determine a winner once again. Memphis (53-34 SU, 39-44-4 ATS) became that team thanks to stellar defense, mostly from Tony Allen on Kevin Durant, and the hot 3-point shooting of Mike Miller, who splashed the nets with a pair of attempts from deep early in OT. Miller would finish with a team-high 21 points, six rebounds, three assists, three steals and zero turnovers, leading his team to a 100-99 triumph as a 6.5-point underdog. The Grizz hooked up money-line supporters with a +250 return. Zach Randolph had a double-double with 20 points and 10 rebounds, while Allen finished with seven points, nine boards, three steals, two assists and defensive plays galore that don't show up in the box score.
-- Like Indiana, Oklahoma City (61-26 SU, 44-40-3 ATS) has surrendered homecourt advantage twice in this series already. On the one hand, you have Russell Westbrook making the type of incredible play he die at crunch time, stripping Mike Conley Jr. for a run-out lay-up to force OT in the waning seconds of regulation. From another point of view, you have Westbrook taking 31 shots, an astounding amount for a point guard, especially compared to the 24 taken by the NBA's leading scorer, and making only 10. And once again here we are in the postseason, with Westbrook taking more shots than Durant, and you have to feel like if Memphis wins Game 6, the OKC organization has to make one of two moves -- get rid of Scott Brooks for a coach that'll correct what seems to be an easy fix in terms of who gets more shots, or jettison Westbrook, a PG who is a high-volume shooter, out of town to put better pieces around the franchise player. That might seem dramatic, especially since Westbrook was injured in the postseason last year, but hasn't this been a point of discussion for nearly five years? These are certainly fair questions, ones that'll only be eradicated by an OKC win in Memphis on Thursday night.
-- As of early Wednesday night, most books had OKC favored by 2.5 with a total of 185. Gamblers can back the Grizzlies on the money line for a +125 return (risk $100 to win $125). For first-half bets, the Thunder is a 1.5-point 'chalk' with a 92.5-point tally.
-- The updated series price at Sportsbook.ag: Memphis -150, OKC +130. As for odds to win the NBA title, the Thunder is sporting a 10/1 number, while the Grizz remain at attractive 25/1 odds. Go figure (considering the variance in the series price and the future numbers).
-- The 'over' is 45-42 overall for OKC this season, 22-21 in its road assignments.
-- The 'under' is 45-42 overall for Memphis, but the 'over' has hit at a lucrative 25-18 clip in its home games.
-- TNT will have the broadcast from FedEx Forum at 8:05 p.m. Eastern.
**Clippers at Warriors**
-- As of early Wednesday night, most spots had Los Angeles (60-27 SU, 48-38-1 ATS) listed as a 1.5-point favorite with a total of 209. The total for first-half wagers was 105.5.
-- Prior to Tuesday's Game 5 at home against Golden State, which was arguably the biggest game in the history of this moribund franchise, Doc Rivers's Clippers team had to deal with an ocean of turmoil for 72 straight hours. First on Saturday as it prepped for Sunday's Game 4 at Golden State with a 2-1 series lead, reports surfaced of an audio tape released by TMZ that had the team's owner making racist remarks and otherwise presenting himself as a complete bigot. Not just a bigot towards any black man in general. No, towards the city of L.A.'s biggest basketball star ever, Magic Johnson. Then with pressure to either boycott or make some sort of statement in the midst of what the team hoped would be a run to the finals, it suffered a blowout loss in Game 4 at Golden State An "off day" was next and it was spent answering questions and facing scrutiny over what (if anything) the team would do if Donald Sterling wasn't harshly punished on Tuesday by the NBA and new Commissioner Adam Silver. Finally, just hours before the crucial Game 5, Silver came down hard on Sterling, banning him for life and suddenly allowing this legit contender to get back to focusing on basketball. The Clips did just that, beating the Warriors by a 113-103 count as seven-point home favorites.
-- The 216 combined points in Game 5 jumped 'over' the 208-point total in large part thanks to Mark Jackson's propensity to employ a hack-a-Jordan strategy ahead of the two-minute mark. The Warriors repeatedly fouled DeAndre Jordan, stopping the clock and forcing him to the free-throw line in the fourth quarter. Bettors on the 'over' had to be thrilled because those on the 'under' were looking real good beforehand.
-- Jordan was the catalyst for L.A. in the winning Game 5 effort at Staples Center. The Texas A&M product tallied 25 points, 18 boards and four blocked shots. Chris Paul added 20 points, seven assists, six boards and five steals, while Jamal Crawford pitched in 19 points. Despite battling foul trouble, Blake Griffin had 18 points, seven rebounds and four assists.
-- Golden State (53-34 SU, 44-40-3 ATS) played from behind for nearly all of Game 5, but it took a one-point advantage at 70-69 with 1:49 left in the third quarter after Steph Curry pulled up on a fast break to launch a 3-pointer from the top of the key. The shot appeared to be ill-advised on first glance, but at this point should anyone ever question Curry's shot selection? The attempt got all nets and appeared to give the Warriors momentum. Alas, it wouldn't last as Paul, Griffin and Jordan were too much for a team lacking its best interior defender in Andrew Bogut.
-- The updated series price at Sportsbook.ag is the Clippers as the -700 'chalk,' while the Warriors are available for a monster +500 return (risk $100 to win $500).
-- L.A. is an atrocious 1-6 ATS in its last seven games at Golden State
-- The 'over' has cashed at a 4-1 clip in this series so far.
-- The 'over' is 48-38-1 overall for the Clippers, 24-19 in their road assignments.
-- The 'under' is 48-37-2 overall for the Warriors, 23-17-2 in their home games this year.
-- Tip-off is scheduled for 10:35 p.m. Eastern on TNT.
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