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Friday's Playoff Tips

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The favorites dominated again on Thursday night in the NBA playoffs with the Heat and Spurs both picking up blowout home wins to gain 2-0 series advantages. So far in the second round, favorites own a 6-2 straight-up and 5-3 record against the spread, as the venue shifts for all four series this weekend. The Pacers travel to D.C. looking for consecutive wins for the second time in the playoffs, while the Thunder ventures west to take on the Clippers.

Pacers at Wizards (-4, 184) – 8:05 PM EST – ESPN

Game 3 - Series tied at 1-1

Washington has cashed tickets in all five opportunities in the underdog role this postseason, as the Wizards return home following an 86-82 defeat in Game 2 as five-point ‘dogs. Even though the Wizards were able to steal Game 1, Washington managed to score just 37 points in the second half of Game 2, while the team took several ill-advised three-pointers down the stretch. The big key for the Wizards in Friday’s Game 3 is slowing down the suddenly dominating Roy Hibbert, who is responsible for getting the Pacers back in the series.

The Pacers’ All-Star center faded away in the first round series against the Hawks, putting up a pair of scoreless efforts in Games 5 and 6, while not registering a point in the opener of the conference semifinals. However, Hibbert woke up from his postseason slumber by scoring 28 points on 10-of-13 shooting from the floor, while pulling down a team-high nine rebounds. Hibbert had to pick up the slack for teammates Paul George and David West, who combined to score to just 20 points on 8-of-21 shooting.

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The Wizards come back to the Verizon Center where they have split a pair of games in the playoffs against the Bulls, while Randy Wittman’s team wasn’t extremely strong at home during the regular season. VegasInsider.com’s Chris David documents Washington’s struggles on their homecourt, “I’ve been very impressive with the Wizards in the playoffs, especially on the road. Including the first two games in this series, they’re now 5-0 against the number as visitors. While that record is great, I’m hesitant to back them at home because quite frankly they haven’t played well in D.C. this season. Did you know they had the worst home record (22-19) amongst all 16 playoff teams? Even worse, the Wizards were 16-23-2 ATS (41%). The line is short for Game 3, but it’s hard for me to give up points when the first two games in this series have been decided by six and four points.”

Meanwhile, Indiana owns a 1-3 SU/ATS record off a win this postseason, but the Pacers have won and covered two of three road contests, which includes a 1-0 SU/ATS record as a road underdog. The Wizards are an incredible 10-1 ATS the last 11 games dating back to the regular season, while Washington has cashed the ‘over’ in seven of the past nine contests, in spite of hitting the ‘under’ in Game 2 against Indiana.

Thunder at Clippers (-4, 214 ½) – 10:35 PM EST – ESPN

Game 3 – Series tied at 1-1

Two of the top three seeds in the Western Conference have put together a pair of high-scoring games in the conference semifinals, but both contests were decided by double-digits. After the Clippers ripped up the Thunder in the series opener, 122-105, Oklahoma City rebounded with a vengeance in Game 2 with a 112-101 triumph as five-point favorites to even the series at one game apiece.

Kevin Durant was presented with his first Most Valuable Player Award prior to Game 2, as the league’s scoring champion led the way for the Thunder with a 32-point, 12-rebound effort. Amazingly, that wasn’t the best line on his own team, as Russell Westbrook compiled a triple-double with 31 points, 10 rebounds, and 10 assists, his third triple-double in the postseason. Westbrook outdueled All-Star guard Chris Paul, who was limited to 17 points in Game 2 after drilling 8-of-9 three-pointers in the series opening victory.

The Clippers haven’t covered back-to-back games in the postseason, putting together a 3-6 ATS record through nine playoff games. Los Angeles heads back to Staples Center with a 3-1 SU and 2-2 ATS mark, while laying at least seven points in all four games against Golden State. Following Paul’s letdown effort in Game 2, David mentions that the success of the Clippers revolves around the star guard, “It’s obvious that the blueprint for stopping the Clippers is shutting down Paul or put simply, getting him on the bench. In the Clips’ four playoff losses, he’s picked up five fouls in each setback. In the five postseason victories, he’s been whistled for four or less.”

David continues with several interesting trends regarding both squads, “Based on the recent tendencies, most would expect CP3 and L.A. to bounce back on Friday since they haven’t lost back-to-back games in this year’s playoffs. However, it’s hard to ignore the fact that Oklahoma City has gone 6-5 SU and 7-4 ATS as an underdog this season and that includes a 6-1 run both SU and ATS in the last seven games in this role.”

The Thunder is receiving points for the first time in the postseason after being listed as a favorite in all three road games in the opening series against the Grizzlies. In fact, the last time OKC was listed as an underdog came at Staples Center on April 9 as the Thunder outlasted the Clippers, 107-101 as 3 ½-point ‘dogs. Westbrook and Durant combined to score 57 points on just 20-of-50 shooting, while the Clips were limited to 42% shooting from the floor.

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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