NBA Odds: Friday, May 9, 2014 Opening Line Report and Handicapping
by Alan Matthews - 5/8/2014
Here's why Western Conference basketball is so much better than in the East right now. Take a look at those lines for both Game 3s on Friday night. Identical for the home teams. Ok, fine. Then look at the totals. A 30-point difference! I'm sorry, but watching games in the 80s-90s simply doesn't compare to those in the 100s-110s. It also wouldn't shock me if the Pacers-Wizards went "under" and Thunder-Clippers went "over." Everything is cyclical, so the East will be back in a few years, but right now the overall basketball quality isn't close, and it's not simply because of defense.
Game 3: Pacers at Wizards (-3.5, 184)
Stop me if you've heard this before: I'm going to talk first about Roy Hibbert when it comes to the Pacers. As historically bad as he was in Indiana's Game 1 loss, he was almost equally good in the Pacers' 86-82 Game 2 victory to even their series with Washington at 1-1. Who could have seen 28 points (season high and on excellent 10-of-13 shooting) and nine rebounds coming? The Pacers outscored the Wizards by 16 points with Hibbert on the court. In the previous eight games in the playoffs, the Pacers were outscored by 28 points with Hibbert on the floor.
Maybe he needed to be scolded, but in a positive-type way, by teammates as he was after the series opener. This was the type of thing that Indiana had missed when it traded Danny Granger -- he would have been the guy to take charge and get in Hibbert's face. Finally David West did it. In another weird move, the Pacers officially cut Andrew Bynum before the game. That had so much symbolism, mainly that Indiana was closing ranks as a team and no outsiders were welcome. Plus, technically Bynum played center like Hibbert. I am fascinated to see how Hibbert plays Friday night. It's a homecoming for him as he played high school ball in D.C. and attended Georgetown.
Here's my worry if I'm a Pacers fan: as good as Hibbert was, the Wizards still led by three points with five minutes left. That was with John Wall having a terrible game, shooting 2-for-13 from the field for six points. He won't play that badly again, especially at home. Trevor Ariza also only had six. We also know Hibbert is not scoring to score anywhere near 28 again. Maybe half that if lucky. Plus, Lance Stephenson hasn't been good thus far, shooting 7-for-25 overall. He is being vastly outplayed by Bradley Beal. Finally, Indiana's very inconsistent bench had only 12 points in Game 2. That could happen again. The Evan Turner acquisition looks laughable now.
All in all, Washington has to be feeling good about things. The Wizards won their lone home against the Pacers this season, 91-78 in late March. They never trailed in the game.
Key trends: The Pacers are 6-22 ATS in their past 28 following a win. The Wizards are 8-1 ATS in their past nine after an ATS loss. The over is 5-2-1 in Indiana's past eight after a win. The over is 6-2 in Washington's past eight after an ATS loss.
Updated Sportsbook.ag series line: Wizards -130, Pacers +110
Early lean: Washington wasn't a great home team this season and its one loss in the Bulls series was there. Take the points.
Game 3: Thunder at Clippers (-3.5, 214)
I mentioned in the preview of Game 2 between these teams that Oklahoma City might get an emotional boost from Kevin Durant winning the MVP -- and that was before I saw his pretty amazing and touching speech on Tuesday. It carried over. The Thunder exploded for 37 first-quarter points, with Durant scoring 17. That could have been it, but kudos to L.A. for not being swallowed by the tide. Still, the Thunder won 112-101 to even the series at 1-1. Durant had 32 points, 12 rebounds and was an assist shy of a triple-double. Russell Westbrook had 31 points, 10 rebounds and 10 assists (that last assist was a gift from the official scorer) for his third triple-double of this postseason. By the way, there have never been teammates with triple-doubles in the same playoff game. That rather shocks me. Jordan and Pippen? Abdul-Jabbar and Magic? LeBron and Wade? Wow.
That Durant and Westbrook were terrific is nothing new. I do think there are a few concerning things for the Thunder, however. The bench was very quiet again. Reggie Jackson was limited to just four points for the second straight game and has been a non-factor. Also, the Thunder aren't going to get 22 combined points most nights from Thabo Sefolosha and Kendrick Perkins. The latter averaged 3.4 this season and the former 6.3. Also: Chris Paul is much less likely to be in foul trouble at home. It's just common sense that home players get favorable calls. After a dominant Game 1 performance, Paul got two quick fouls Wednesday and finished with 17.
If I'm a Clippers fan, my primary worry is that my club has been crushed on the boards in both games, and DeAndre Jordan has been very quiet. Jordan averaged 12.1 points and 15.1 rebounds in dominating smallish Golden State -- those numbers would have been higher if not for a lousy game following the Donald Sterling news breaking. The Thunder have big bodies to deal with Jordan, and he's averaging 7.0 points and 6.5 rebounds.
OKC and the Clippers split two games in L.A. this year. The last meeting was huge for a playoff tiebreaker, a 107-101 Thunder win on April 9.
Key trends: OKC has covered one of its past five road games. The Clippers have covered five straight after a loss of more than 10 points. The over is 4-0 in the Thunder's past four after a win. The over is 6-0 in the Clippers' past six at home.
Updated Sportsbook.ag series line: Thunder -125, Clippers +105
Paul and Blake Griffin bounce back from subpar Game 2s. Clippers cover.
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