NBA Odds: Friday, May 2, 2014 Opening Line Report and Handicapping
by Alan Matthews - 5/1/2014
As good as these NBA playoffs have been thus far, and it has probably been the greatest first round since the series expanded to seven games, it would only be fitting if all three teams down 3-2 in their series won Friday night to set up an epic Sunday of three Game 7s. Here's a look at each Friday matchup.
Game 6: Raptors at Nets (-5, 191)
The Brooklyn Nets are likely going to look very different next season if they lose a third straight game on Friday night to Toronto to end their season. I would consider it doubtful that Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett re-sign with the team if it goes out in the first round. I almost wonder if the Nets are looking past Toronto and toward a much-wanted matchup with the Heat in the second round. It sure looked like the case in Game 5 as the Raptors blew out to a 26-point lead and held on for dear life (Brooklyn did tie it at one point). The Toronto backcourt was again the difference. Kyle Lowry was the best player on the floor with 36 points and six assists, while DeMar DeRozan had 20 points, six rebounds and five assists.
Those two are simply better than the Nets' duo of Deron Williams and Joe Johnson. The latter was good in Game 5 with 30 points and a team-high plus-22 rating, but Williams was held to 13 and was minus-9. Pierce and Garnett were non-factors. In fact, the Nets were outscored by 31 points in Pierce's 24 minutes. Lowry is averaging five more points per game in this series than Williams and shooting four percent better. Lowry is going to get paid this offseason. The irony is the Nets were reportedly close to trading for him this season. Bet they wish they had now.
Key trends: Toronto is 1-5-1 ATS in its past seven after a win. The Nets are 0-5 ATS in their past five home games. The "over" is 7-1 in Toronto's past eight after a win. The "under" is 6-0 in Brooklyn's past six after scoring 100 points or more in the previous game.
Updated Sportsbook.ag series line: Raptors -300, Nets +250
Early lean: While the Raptors are younger and look hungrier, that the Nets nearly completed a monster comeback should give them some momentum into Game 6. That and a return home should be enough. Nets cover. I'm guessing the Heat are rooting for a Game 7.
Game 6: Spurs at Mavericks (+3.5, 199.5)
I didn't realize that reserve big man DeJuan Blair was such an important player for the Mavericks. Dirk Nowitzki said Dallas missed the suspended Blair in the Mavs' 109-103 Game 5 loss in San Antonio. The Spurs never trailed in the game, jumping out to a 20-point lead at one point. Blair, who had 12 points and 11 rebounds in Game 4, will be back for Game 6.
The Mavericks really blew a golden opportunity here with Tony Parker playing on a bum ankle. He didn't show it, scoring 23 points with five assists. To pull the upset, I thought the Dallas point guard duo of Jose Calderon and Devin Harris had to take advantage of a possibly gimpy Parker. They were a combined 6-for-20 from the field for 16 points. The only good news was that Nowitzki had by far his best game of the series with 26 points and 15 rebounds. Dallas went small often, partly because starting center Samuel Dalembert tweaked his ankle in the game and played only 26 minutes. So the Spurs dominated down low. Tiago Splitter had 17 points and 12 rebounds and San Antonio outscored the Mavericks by 26 points in the paint. For the first time in this series, it looked like the Spurs figured out that Dallas defense and the crisp passing was there. San Antonio finished with 24 assists.
Key trends: San Antonio is 1-5 ATS in its past six road games. The Mavericks are 2-5 ATS in their past seven at home. The under is 7-1 in San Antonio's past eight after scoring 100 points or more in its previous game. The under is 4-0 in Dallas' past four after allowing 100 points or more in its previous game.
Updated Sportsbook.ag series line: Spurs -1200, Mavericks +700
Early lean: Dallas had its chance. Spurs finish things off and cover for the first time in their past eight games.
Game 6: Rockets at Trail Blazers (-3.5, 213)
One of the biggest upsets so far in these playoffs was that Wednesday's Game 5 between Houston and Portland didn't go over the total -- it's the first time this season a game between the two hasn't. Houston played its best game of the series with a 108-98 victory, and I think it is the best value series line bet of the three series dogs playing Friday. Criticize Dwight Howard all you want, but the guy has been excellent in this series. He had 22 points and 14 rebounds on Wednesday and has reached at least those totals in every game. The biggest key in Game 5 was the play of Jeremy Lin off the bench, especially with James Harden struggling again (5-for-15). Lin had 21 points and four assists in 31 minutes. He rarely plays more minutes than starter Patrick Beverley, but he was bothered by the flu and didn't do much in 21 minutes.
Damian Lillard had a big game with Beverley laboring and Lin, a terrible defensive player, on the court often as Lillard finished with 26 points. However, LaMarcus Aldridge was only 3-for-12 from the field for eight points (second-fewest in a game all season). The Rockets used both Howard and Omer Asik on him. Aldridge attempted only 13 shots, 10 fewer than his previous low in this series. The Blazers were scoreless in the 3:38 of the game, missing their final seven attempts.
Key trends: The Rockets are 4-9 ATS in their past 13 road games. Portland is 1-6 ATS in its past seven at home. The over is 6-1 in Houston's past seven road games. The over is 4-0 in Portland's past four at home. Houston has covered seven of its past nine in Portland.
Updated Sportsbook.ag series line: Blazers -300, Rockets +250
Eight teams have won a series after trailing 3-1. Houston is one of them, in 1994-95 on the way to the title. While it's doubtful Lin is that good again,
Beverley should be close to full health. Harden has to wake up at some point. And I think the Rockets have figured out a way to slow Aldridge a bit. Take
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