NBA Odds: Thursday, May 8, 2014 Opening Line Report and Handicapping
by Alan Matthews - 5/7/2014
The opening games of the Brooklyn-Miami and Portland-San Antonio series were pretty bland, especially after all the fantastic finishes in Round 1. Neither game was much in doubt, and now both the Heat and Spurs look to hold serve Thursday before the series switch venues. A Miami-San Antonio NBA Finals matchup has already jumped from +180 to +110 on Sportsbook.ag.
Game 2: Nets at Heat (-8, 192)
Miami has proved against the likes of Boston and Chicago in the past that regular-season results mean nothing in the playoffs, and the Heat sure did that with Tuesday's 107-86 win over the Nets. I do believe you sort of could see that coming. It was important for the Heat to put Brooklyn in its place after being swept during the season, plus the Nets were playing about 48 hours after a draining seven-game series while Miami was very fresh. Brooklyn looked tired after trailing by only three at the half, but the Heat had a 24-9 run in the third.
We already know the Heat are the title favorites, so what good signs were there for the Nets in Game 1? Well, Joe Johnson and Deron Williams were both an excellent 7-for-11 from the field. And late-season pickup Marcus Thornton had 11 points in 21 minutes off the bench. That's about it for positives. The Heat have no right outrebounding the Nets but did. The Heat have no right shooting 56.8 percent from the field but did. And they shouldn't be getting 19 points from Ray Allen at this point in his career but did. Coach Erik Spoelstra started Shane Battier after barely using him in the Bobcats series, sending Udonis Haslem to the bench. The smaller lineup worked well in spreading the Nets thin. Battier had eight points and was plus-12 in 26 minutes while Haslem barely played.
The Nets must, must get more frontcourt production. They should have a major advantage over the center-less Heat -- Chris Bosh isn't a center -- but Brooklyn's Kevin Garnett, Andray Blatche and Mason Plumlee combined for six points, 11 rebounds and four turnovers. Garnett was scoreless for the first time in his playoff career. Miami outscored the Nets 52-28 in the paint. The good news for Nets backers is that likely won't happen again. The bad: LeBron James and Dwayne Wade didn't need to put up big numbers and went to the free-throw line just twice combined. That's also very unlikely to happen again. Expect the Nets to get way more physical in Game 2.
Key trends: The Nets are 8-1 ATS in their past nine after a loss of more than 10 points. Brooklyn is 2-5 ATS in its past seven following an ATS loss. Miami is 5-1 ATS in its past six after scoring 100 points or more in its previous game. The "under" is 5-1 in the past six meetings in Miami.
Updated Sportsbook.ag series line: Heat -1100, Nets +700
Early lean: Miami takes a 2-0 lead but the Nets cover.
Game 2: Trail Blazers at Spurs (-7, 207)
Portland playing as bad as it did in the Game 1 116-92 loss surprised me more than the Nets getting routed. I don't think the Blazers can win the series against San Antonio, but they were riding high off an epic Game 6 win to finish off Houston and had a few extra days to rest up, while the Spurs also were playing about 48 hours after finishing a draining seven-game series. Frankly, Portland just looked happy to be there -- that's playoff inexperience for you. The Spurs never led by less than 20 in the second half, and younger, quicker Portland had just three points in transition. The Blazers made 37.8 percent of their shots, including 0-for-8 from long range the first three quarters.
While LaMarcus Aldridge (32 points, 14 rebounds) won his matchup with Tim Duncan (12 points, 11 rebounds), Tony Parker (33 points, nine assist, team-high plus-27) took it to Damian Lillard. (17 points, three assists, six turnovers, minus-16). Parker's 54 points accounted for when including assists (some on 3-pointers) was his highest total of the season. One thing the Blazers did in the second half was stick the much bigger Wesley Matthews on Parker, and it seemed to work a bit. Look for more of that, although it's hard to totally hide Lillard on a shooting guard like Danny Green or Manu Ginobili because he gives up so much in height (and Lillard just isn't a good defender yet).
It won't matter what the Blazers do defensively if Matthews (eight points) and Nic Batum (seven) don't add more offense. The Spurs are daring those guys to beat them. The San Antonio bench was inconsistent against Dallas after leading the NBA in scoring the year, and it was great in Game 1 with 50 points, led by Ginobili's 19. The Blazers' bench, last in scoring this season, had just 18. That's really what this series comes down to. Portland might have two of the three best players in the series in Aldridge and Lillard, but from 1-10, it's a mismatch depth-wise.
Key trends: Portland is 1-4 ATS in its past five after a loss. Blazers are 0-4 ATS in their past four after allowing 100 points or more in their previous game. San Antonio is 1-4 ATS in its past five after a win. The under is 5-1 in Portland's past six after a win. The "over" is 4-0 in San Antonio's past four at home.
Updated Sportsbook.ag series line: Spurs -700, Blazers +500
Early lean: Love the over in Game 2 better than the side as the Blazers will shoot better. I slightly lean taking the points but Spurs will win.
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