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Thursday's Playoff Tips

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The Heat and Spurs both advanced to the conference finals with victories last night, as two more teams have opportunities to move forward tonight. Miami and San Antonio both took care of business on its home court, but Indiana and Oklahoma City need a road win to advance tonight. On the against the spread front, the underdogs keep cashing with the Nets taking home the money as seven-point underdogs in the two-point defeat to the Heat, while the Blazers were blown out by the Spurs. Currently, underdogs own a 12-8 ATS record in the conference semifinals, improving to 43-26-1 ATS in the playoffs.

Pacers at Wizards (-4 ½, 180 ½) – 8:00 PM EST – ESPN

In one of the weirder series to figure out in these playoffs, Indiana tries to close out Washington at the Verizon Center tonight after getting routed by the Wizards in Game 5. Washington stayed alive with a 102-79 destruction of Indiana on Tuesday to cash outright as 5 ½-point underdogs, marking the fourth time in five games of this series that the road ‘dog has won. The roller-coaster Pacers looked completely flat from the tip, scoring just 38 first half points, while getting outrebounded by the Wizards, 62-23, the third-largest rebounding disparity in playoff history.

After Roy Hibbert dominated the middle for the Pacers in Game 2, Washington big man Marcin Gortat scored a playoff career-high 31 points on an efficient 13-of-15 shooting, while pulling down 16 rebounds. On the flip side, Hibbert reverted back to his playoff self by putting up just four points on 2-of-7 shooting, the fifth time in the last 10 games in which the Indiana center has scored four points or less. Another key for the Wizards in Game 5 was the emergence of John Wall, who has struggled scoring at times in the playoffs. The former top pick scored a playoff career-best 27 points, matching his point total from the losses in Game 3 and Game 4 at home.

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Playing at home for the Wizards has looked like a disappearing act for Randy Wittman’s team, who compiled point totals of 63 in Game 3 and 92 in Game 4. The game in which they scored 92 points actually went ‘over’ the total of 187, as Washington threw away a 19-point lead in a 95-92 defeat, while owning a 1-3 SU/ATS record at the Verizon Center in the playoffs.

VegasInsider.com’s Chris David provides an easy way to figure out this matchup, “This series has been very simple to handicap, just grab the points with the road team. It’s 5-0 ATS after five games and you really have no reason to go against that trend on Thursday. Washington was a mediocre team in the regular season (22-19) and that carry-over has produced a 1-3 record in the postseason. As bad as Indiana looked in Game 5, it hasn’t dropped back-to-back games in the playoffs. I wouldn’t be surprised to see Washington extend the series but based on these trends, I’m leaning to the road underdog in this spot.”

The Pacers have covered all three games in the postseason as an underdog, while hitting the ‘under’ in four of five playoff contests away from Bankers Life Fieldhouse.

Thunder at Clippers (-5, 212) – 10:30 PM EST – ESPN

Oklahoma City and Los Angeles are reenacting the end of “Rocky II” throughout this series with each team going back and forth and falling to the mat. However, the Thunder looks like the team that will get up last, heading to Staples Center tonight trying to move on to the Western Conference Finals with a win over the Clippers.

The Clippers rallied from a 22-point deficit to stun the Thunder in Game 4, but the Thunder turned the tables on Los Angeles in Game 5 by erasing a seven-point deficit in the final 45 seconds to pull off a shocking 105-104 victory to take a 3-2 series lead. Russell Westbrook continued a strong playoff effort with 38 points, including three free throws after getting fouled late by Chris Paul. The Thunder overcame a poor shooting night from MVP Kevin Durant (6-of-22), while OKC didn’t cover as 5 ½-point favorites, marking the third straight cover by the underdog in this series.

David says there is no definite side to back after the final minute meltdowns in Games 4 and 5, “After watching both teams have monumental collapses in the last two games, I’m a little gun shy to back either squad in Game 6. However, I do believe the adjusted series price is too inflated. Most shops have the Clippers listed as a 3/1 choice to rally from a 3-2 deficit and advance. Rather than give 4 ½ points in Game 6, I’ll take those odds and hope for the straight up win. If L.A. does force a Game 7, you can let it ride with the visitor or get out and play Oklahoma City on the money-line, which should be -220 or -240, give or take a few cents. Either way, you’ll have options available if the Clips force Game 7 and if you’re very creative, you can wait on the hedge and place some Live Betting wagers come Saturday as the game begins.”

The Clippers have covered just two of six playoff games at Staples Center, while going 5-1 to the ‘over’ at home. Doc Rivers’ team is just 2-5 ATS in the last seven games off a road loss, which includes a 118-112 defeat to the Thunder in Game 3 of this series.

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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