NBA Odds: Saturday, April 26, 2014 Opening Line Report and Handicapping
by Alan Matthews - 4/25/2014
What more do the Atlanta Hawks and Memphis Grizzlies have to do? They both have 2-1 series leads over their heavily-favored opponents, and both the Hawks and Grizzlies won at home in Game 3. Yet both are dogs again for Game 4. Here is a look at all four NBA playoff games Saturday.
Game 4: Pacers at Hawks (+2, 186.5)
A report came out from ESPN before Game 2 of this series that Indiana's Frank Vogel was coaching for his job. I think that's absolutely true now and the biggest decision of his career is what to do with Roy Hibbert. He has been not just bad but literally a detriment to the team in this series and really for weeks. How can a 7-foot-4 all-star go 2-for-9 from the field and manage two rebounds in 19 minutes as Hibbert did in the Game 3 98-85 loss against Atlanta? The Pacers were minus-8 with him on the floor. Vogel didn't play Hibbert for the final 17:30 of Game 3 because it just didn't look like the guy cared. The coach hasn't said as of this writing whether Hibbert will start Game 4. This is a crossroads for Hibbert's career and Vogel's. Start Hibbert and he struggles and the Pacers lose, and the team's confidence is gone. So is Vogel. Don't start him and the Pacers play well and win and suddenly Hibbert's psyche is wrecked. The Pacers probably would have to trade him this offseason.
Game 3 wasn't all Hibbert's fault. Paul George played like a superstar in Game 2 but was back to average in Game 3 by shooting 3-for-11 from the field. He was a team-worst minus-16, and Jeff Teague didn't have any problems in this one with George guarding him. Teague finished with 22 points and 10 assists. The Pacers must upgrade at point guard this offseason as well. George Hill was 1-for-11 in Game 3. Remember how that Evan Turner trade was supposed to fortify the Indiana bench? He was 1-for-4 for four points. Atlanta has won 15 of its past 17 at home vs. Indiana.
Key trends: The Hawks are 8-1 ATS in their past nine after a win of at least 10 points. Indiana is 2-9 ATS in its past 11 after a loss of at least 10 points. The "under" is 5-0 in Atlanta's past five at home.
Updated Sportsbook.ag series line: Pacers -140, Hawks +120
Early lean: Is it a good or bad thing for the Pacers that these teams play again about 36 hours after Game 2 ended? Hard to say. I'm giving Indiana one more chance here: give the points and take the under.
Game 3: Spurs at Mavericks (+3.5, 202.5)
I didn't pick Dallas to win Game 2 in San Antonio but did think the Mavs would cover. They did more than that, rolling to a shockingly easy 113-92 victory to even this series and end a 10-game losing streak to the Spurs. It was the largest road win ever by a No. 8 over a No. 1. It was also the Mavs' first playoff win since taking the 2011 NBA Finals. Frankly, Dallas could easily have a 2-0 series lead as it outplayed San Antonio for much of the opener. The Mavericks forced 24 turnovers in Game 2 and it led to a season-high 33 points off turnovers for Dallas.
Defensively, Dallas is essentially daring anyone to beat it other than the Big 3. Especially on the perimeter. Manu Ginobili has been solid from long range, but the rest of the Spurs are 5-for-25 from behind the arc. Coach Rick Carlisle is often sticking small forward Shawn Marion on Tony Parker, which leaves Monta Ellis guarding Kawhi Leonard, but Leonard hasn't really taken advantage of that huge size advantage. The Mavericks have to be thrilled with the split considering Dirk Nowitzki hasn't done much yet. He's averaging only 13.5 points and is 11-for-33 from the field.
Key trends: The Spurs are 3-7 ATS in their past 10 after a loss. Dallas is 0-5 ATS in its past five at home. It has failed to cover seven straight overall after a win of at least 10 points. The over is 5-1 in the past six meetings in Dallas.
Updated Sportsbook.ag series line: Spurs -420, Mavericks +330
Early lean: I'm not buying this upset possibility yet and the Spurs are quite familiar with winning in Dallas. Give the points and go over.
Game 3: Heat at Bobcats (+5.5, 188)
I realize the Heat aren't looking past the Bobcats, but how good do things look right now for them to win a third straight title? The Pacers are in trouble. So are the Thunder. The Spurs might be. That trio was considered the three primary challengers for Miami.
Kudos for the Bobcats for playing hard, and I'm sure that continues Saturday with the franchise's first home playoff game in four years. Maybe Michael Jordan will even show up! But Bobcats center Al Jefferson is playing on one foot now. He apparently injured his left plantar fascia strain even worse early in Game 2, possibly tearing it. Jefferson can't make it worse by playing, but it's very, very painful. If this were the regular season he'd probably be out at least 4-6 weeks. Jefferson finished with 18 points and 13 rebounds in Game 2 but was only 9-for-23 from the field. The Bobcats will have starting forward Josh McRoberts for this one in a minor upset. He put a big foul on LeBron James late in Game 2, not really going for the ball at all and clubbing LeBron in the neck. The NBA didn't suspend him but upgraded the personal foul to a Flagrant 2 and fined him. The foul infuriated LeBron, so look for a big game. Also look for the Heat to perhaps put in a scrub player near the end of this one if it's a blowout in their favor and get a little payback.
Key trends: The Heat are 1-6 ATS in their past seven road games against teams with a winning home record. The Bobcats are 6-0 ATS in their past six playing on two days of rest. The over is 5-0 in the past five meetings.
Updated Sportsbook.ag series line: Heat -15000, +4000
Early lean: James will play possessed and the Heat cover. Hard to ignore that over trend, so lean there.
Game 4: Thunder at Grizzlies (+2.5, 189)
Memphis really has to stop blowing late leads and committing fouls on 3-point shots in the final minute against OKC, but otherwise the Grizzlies have to be feeling great with a 2-1 lead. I think they should be series favorites at this point. Tony Allen is one of the most irritating players in the NBA if you are going against him, but the guy is terrific defensively. He's giving Kevin Durant fits. The NBA scoring champ had 30 points in Game 3 but was 10-for-27 overall and 0-for-8 from long range. He made just one shot out of 13 tries outside of 10 feet. That's incredible. Westbrook wasn't any better, shooting 9-for-26 in Game 3. Once again, no Thunder player outside of those two and Serge Ibaka did anything. Reggie Jackson was a very valuable reserve this season but has been invisible in this series. The Thunder bench was outscored 34-9 in Game 3.
The Grizzlies simply know how to play this team and in fact have won 15 of the past 29 matchups (including playoffs) in the series overall. And Memphis has one of the best home-court advantages in the NBA, having not lost there since Feb. 5.
Key trends: The Thunder are 1-7 ATS in their past eight road games against teams with a winning home record. The over is 4-0 in Memphis' past four at home.
Updated Sportsbook.ag series line: Thunder -150, Grizzlies +130
I'll take Memphis as a home dog anytime I can get it.
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