NBA Odds: Thursday, May 15, 2014 Opening Line Report and Handicapping
by Alan Matthews - 5/14/2014
I was half right in the Game 5s between Indiana-Washington and Oklahoma City-LA Clippers. I expected the Pacers-Wizards game to be an easy cover -- just not for Washington. As for Thunder-Clippers, which had one of the craziest playoff endings ever, I predicted an OKC victory but believed it would go down to the wire and took the points. Now both road teams face must wins on Thursday to force a Game 7 back at the higher-seeded club.
Game 6: Pacers at Wizards (-4.5, 180.5)
Thank goodness for the nightcap game Tuesday because the Indiana-Washington matchup was a total snoozer. The Wizards dominated from the get-go for the most part in a 102-79 win and have to be kicking themselves for blowing Game 4 or they would be headed home with a chance to clinch in this one. The Pacers aren't a good offensive team and still haven't scored 100 points in this series. It's now pretty clear that if the Wizards get to triple digits they will win.
Marcin "the Polish Hammer" Gortat totally dominated Roy Hibbert in Game 5, finishing with 31 points (on 13-for-15 shooting), 16 rebounds and a game-best plus-35 rating. He had six total points and 13 combined rebounds in the previous two games. No Wizard had 30 points and 15 rebounds in a playoff game since 1987 (Moses Malone). John Wall also broke out with 27 points, five assists and five rebounds. He had not played well in this series before that. Hibbert, meanwhile, reverted back to Silent Roy with just four points and two rebounds in 25 minutes. Frankly, no Pacer played well. They were outrebounded an incredible 62-23, the biggest rebounding margin in any playoff game in 43 years. Clearly the Wizards played with desperation, and Indiana played like a team with two games it could lose.
There's obviously no way that Gortat goes ballistic like that again in Game 6. As awful as Indiana has looked at times in these playoffs, it still hasn't lost back-to-back games. And the Pacers seem more focused on the road, going 4-1 compared to 3-4 at home (they lost six times at home all season). Washington, meanwhile, is only 1-3 at home in the playoffs and 5-1 on the road.
Key trends: Indiana is 4-0 ATS in its past four road games. It is 5-1 ATS in its past six after a loss. Washington is 8-1 ATS in its past nine after a win. The "under" is 4-0 in the Pacers' past four following a loss. The "over" is 5-1 in Washington's past six after scoring 100 points or more in its previous game. The underdog has covered six straight between these two.
Updated Sportsbook.ag series line: Pacers -380, Wizards +300
Early lean: I believe the Pacers were simply exhausted after their big rally in Game 4 and in which their starters all played huge minutes. Paul George, especially, looked on empty as he wasn't much of a factor in Game 5. He will be Thursday, as will Hibbert (something like 12 points, nine rebounds, three blocks). Pacers cover and probably win, so I'd lean them at +175 on the moneyline.
Game 6: Thunder at Clippers (-4.5, 212)
I don't think there's argument that Chris Paul is one of Top-10 players in the NBA. He might be first-team All-NBA again this season. He has been the past two years. Paul is probably the best pure point guard in the NBA -- i.e. Russell Westbrook is more of a scoring point guard. All that said, I'm not sure I've seen a star the status of Paul blow such an important game before as he did at the end of Tuesday's night's Game 5.
The Clippers had no right losing 105-104, after leading by 13 with about four minutes left, but I suppose you could make the argument that Oklahoma City had no right losing Sunday's Game 4. I literally turned the TV off Tuesday when the Clippers were up 104-97 on a Paul shot with 49 seconds left. Figured it was over. Then the craziness happened. Doc Rivers wanted his guys to foul Durant before he could attempt a 3-pointer as the Clips had a foul to give; they didn't, and Durant, who had struggled much of the game, drained it. OK, Clips still up four with the ball, but Jamal Crawford missed a layup and Durant came right back down and made his own. Still, Clippers up two with the ball and around 15 seconds left. Then Paul happened. He coughed up the ball to Westbrook on the press -- I'm not sure what Paul was trying do in all honesty. Perhaps pass it. Regardless, with possession the Thunder's Reggie Jackson went driving into the lane but was clearly fouled by L.A.'s Matt Barnes. The ball also clearly went off Jackson's hand out of bounds. No foul was called and it was ruled Thunder possession, with no replay overturn. All L.A. needed was a stop, but Paul then fouled Westbrook on a missed 3-pointer with six seconds left. Westbrook hit all three to give the Thunder the lead.
You knew the ball was going to be in Paul's hands when the Clippers inbounded on the OKC side of the court, but the Thunder made a great switch on defense, and Paul seemed bothered by Serge Ibaka being his primary defender. He turned the ball over, and that was that. Rivers went ballistic after the game, ripping the refs for that Jackson play and subsequent failure to overturn. He will be fined. But it's what a good coach does; deflect the attention from his team.
From an on-court standpoint, the Clippers did little wrong in Game 5 until the final three minutes or so. DeAndre Jordan was a non-factor with zero points and four rebounds in 20 minutes while fouling out. He must stay out of trouble in that regard. Paul played very well otherwise with 17 points, 14 assists and four steals. J.J. Redick bounced back from two subpar games with 17 points and a team-high plus-17 rating in 25 minutes. The Thunder are incredibly lucky to win with Durant shooting 6-for-22 -- Westbrook kept this game alive with his 38 points. OKC got the benefit of the calls much of the night, attempting 36 foul shots to the Clippers' 20. That is hugely unlikely to happen in L.A.
Key trends: The Thunder are 3-0-1 ATS in their past four road games. The Clippers are 1-5 ATS in their past six after allowing 100 points or more in their previous game. The "over" is 5-1 in OKC's past six after a win. The over is 7-1 in the Clippers' past eight at home. The Thunder have covered five of their past six at L.A.
Updated Sportsbook.ag series line: Thunder -400, Clippers +320
Clippers cover to force Game 7. This reminds me of Game 6 of the Warriors series when Paul wasn't good with nine points and four turnovers in a loss. He
rebounded the next game with 22 points and 14 assists in the victory. He's going to have a huge game Thursday.
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