NBA Odds: Saturday, May 3, 2014 Opening Line Report and Handicapping
by Alan Matthews - 5/2/2014
It's by far the best day of NBA basketball this season on Saturday with three Game 7s. This has never happened in the NBA on one day. All three home teams Saturday were able to pull out road wins in Game 6 as slight favorites to force a winner-take-all. Here's a look at each matchup.
Hawks at Pacers (-6, 186)
I get these stories out as early as possible, so as of this writing there is no news on whether Indiana star Paul George might be suspended for this game (right at deadline for this article news came out that George will NOT be suspended). With 19 seconds left in the first half of Indiana's 95-88 win in Atlanta on Thursday, the Pacers' George Hill and Hawks' Mike Scott got in a minor scrum and got technical fouls. The problem for George is that he clearly got up off the bench and took a step or two onto the court. It wasn't some big aggressive move to get involved, but by the letter of the law he could be suspended for stepping onto the court during a fight. Here is the actual wording of the rule: "During an altercation, all players not participating in the game must remain in the immediate vicinity of their bench. Violators will be suspended, without pay, for a minimum of one game and fined up to $50,000."
I tend to doubt George does get suspended (maybe if this was a Game 2 or something), but the line would certainly drop if he is. Suns fans might remember the NBA suspending Phoenix star Amare Stoudemire (and Boris Diaw) for a similar incident following the end of Game 4 of the 2007 Western Conference semifinals against San Antonio. That was probably the Suns' best chance to win a title, but they lost Game 5 at home without Stoudemire and then dropped Game 6 in San Antonio to lose the series. Incidentally, Pacers coach Frank Vogel did start Roy Hibbert in Game 6, and he amazingly went scoreless again in 12 minutes with four fouls. Hibbert is only the second player in NBA history to post consecutive scoreless playoff games after making the all-star team that same season. The other guy was the Warriors' Jim King, whom I never heard of. Hibbert will start again, but it's clear that's only so as to not ruin him mentally.
Key trends: The Hawks are 5-0 ATS in their past five after a loss. They are 6-1 ATS in their past seven road games. Indiana is 1-9 in its past 10 after an ATS win. The "over" is 5-1 in the Pacers' past six home games.
Updated Sportsbook.ag line to win conference: Pacers +750, Hawks +5000
Early lean : Go with the Pacers here.
Grizzlies at Thunder (-8, 185)
I used to be a newspaper guy, so I found it amusing that a headline in the Oklahoman made so much news this week when it called Kevin Durant "Mr. Unreliable." The sports editor of the paper apologized -- sports editors at papers that size have nothing to do with headline writing; they leave around 6-7 p.m. -- but I guarantee you deep down the paper loved the publicity. Durant said he didn't have a problem with it, but it sure seemed to spark him in Game 6 as the scoring champ had his best game of the series against Memphis with 36 points and 10 rebounds in the Thunder's 104-84 blowout. It was the first time a game in this series didn't go to OT since the opener. Obviously, Durant's aggressiveness is a great sign for the Thunder going forward, but one warning sign still remaining is that Durant was 0-for-6 from long range. He has been nothing short of awful from there in this series.
The major weakness of the Grizzlies is perimeter scoring, and that was why they lost Game 6. Mike Conley was just 2-for-10 overall and Courtney Lee 2-for-7. Neither hit a 3-pointer, and Memphis was 3-for-14 from long range. Of more concern is an injury suffered by Conley. He suffered a right hamstring strain in the third quarter and wasn't the same after. Conley said he's playing, but he could be seen limping into the locker room after the game. His backup is Beno Udrih, which would be a major downgrade. He is averaging 7.2 points in 16.3 minutes in this series.
Key trends: The Grizzlies have covered just two of their past nine after an ATS loss. OKC is 3-7 ATS in its past 10 following a win of more than 10 points. The over is 4-1 in the Thunder's past five after a win.
Updated Sportsbook.ag line to win conference: Thunder +220, Grizzlies +2000
Early lean: I do think the Thunder win, especially with that Conley injury, but I'm shocked this line is so big with how even this series has been. Take the points.
Warriors at Clippers (-7, 209.5)
There's a big injury in this series as well, and it probably kills any chance the Warriors have of winning Game 7. Golden State center Jermaine O'Neal was
hurt in the second quarter of the Warriors' 100-99 Game 6 win with what is being called a sprained knee for now. He didn't return, and it looked pretty bad
as O'Neal could put no weight on the knee. He will have an MRI on Friday. O'Neal called it a dirty play when Clippers reserve Glen Davis, a former teammate
O'Neal's, barreled into him. O'Neal had a great quote of Game 7: "Anything short of God coming back and rapture -- anything short of that, I will play." I'm sure he will try, unless there are torn ligaments. O'Neal isn't putting up big numbers, averaging 7.0 points and 4.0 rebounds in 13 minutes per game in this series, but he's really the only big guy the Warriors have left with Andrew Bogut out. That means more of guys like Marreese Speights and maybe Hilton Armstrong. That's not a good thing. And if David Lee or Draymond Green gets into foul trouble, the Warriors are really up the creek.
Another reason to like the Clippers in this one is that Chris Paul and Blake Griffin aren't as likely to be in foul trouble at home. They were on Thursday. Griffin fouled out with only 17 points, and Paul was frankly not very good with just nine points on 3-for-10 from the field in 34 minutes. To be fair, he is dealing with hamstring and thumb injuries.
Key trends: The Warriors are 5-2 ATS in their past seven after an ATS win. The Clippers are 4-1 ATS in their past five home games. The over is 7-0 in the Warriors' past seven following an ATS win. The over is 4-0 in the Clippers' past four after a loss.
Updated Sportsbook.ag line to win conference: Clippers +440, Warriors +2000
Have to love the "over," and I believe the Clippers win this by double digits, ending Mark Jackson's tenure as Warriors coach.
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