NBA Odds: Tuesday, May 6, 2014 Opening Line Report and Handicapping
by Alan Matthews - 5/5/2014
The second round of the NBA playoffs is going to have to be quite something to have a chance of matching what was truly an epic first round. The two NBA title favorites, Miami and San Antonio, open their conference semifinals on Tuesday night. A Heat-Spurs rematch in the NBA Finals is a +180 favorite at Sportsbook.ag, followed by Heat-Thunder (+280) and Heat-Clippers (+450). No other exact matchup is below +1000.
Game 1: Nets at Heat (-7, 191.5)
I'm sure that most teams' NBA head coaches don't care what the spread on a game is -- unless they are pulling a Pete Rose and betting on their own team. That said, it wouldn't shock me to have Jason Kidd post the odds for this game and series in the locker room on Tuesday. Kidd can play the "no respect" card for the Nets as they are the biggest dogs of the four conference semifinals despite the fact they swept the Heat this season. No other team has swept Miami four regular-season games in a season since LeBron James and Chris Bosh joined the Heat. I don't put a lot of stock in that. Every game could have gone the other way, and the Heat only had Dwayne Wade for two of them. There is the rust vs. rest factor here since Miami has been off since sweeping Charlotte last Monday. Brooklyn was pushed to the absolute limit in edging Toronto 104-103 in Game 7 on Sunday.
So how did the Nets beat Miami? They generally slowed the game down -- obviously the Heat are much more athletic overall. Miami averaged only 8.5 fast-break points against Brooklyn, way below its season average, and nearly 5.5 fewer possessions per game than against all other teams. Frankly, LeBron-led teams have always had trouble dealing with both Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett, which is 100 percent the reason they were acquired by Brooklyn. Pierce, who had the series-saving block of Kyle Lowry's shot in the final seconds Sunday, averaged 21.3 points this year against Miami, his most against any team. Garnett averaged just 9.0 points in the two games he played, but he knows how to get under the skin of LeBron and Bosh.
The only chance I give the Nets in this game and series is if Joe Johnson can outplay Wade and Deron Williams dominates the point guard matchup with Mario Chalmers. Johnson was the best Nets player against the Raptors, averaging 21.9 points on 52.3 percent shooting. That week-plus off can only help Wade's knees, and he looked very good against the Bobcats. It will be interesting to see whether Kidd starts Shaun Livingston or Alan Anderson, who got the nod over Livingston the final two games of the Toronto series. The Nets should have the bench edge.
Key trends: The Nets are 4-0 ATS in the past four meetings. The "under" is 5-0 in the past five in Miami. The "over" is 6-1 in Miami's past seven playing on three or more days of rest. The under is 7-0 in Brooklyn's past seven after scoring 100 points or more in their previous game.
Sportsbook.ag series line: Heat -525, Nets +400; over/under 5.5 games in series (over -185 favorite).
Early lean: Miami wins this series in six and Game 1, but it won't cover.
Game 1: Trail Blazers at Spurs (-6.5, 205.5)
This series is new guard (Damian Lillard and LaMarcus Aldridge) against the old guard (Tony Parker, Tim Duncan), and those two Blazers stars are going to have to outplay their counterparts for Portland to pull the upset. Lillard and Aldridge were tremendous against Houston. Aldridge had those two 40-point-plus games to open the series, and Lillard stamped himself a true superstar with that unbelievable 3-pointer at the buzzer to win the series in Game 6. If he misses that, I think the Rockets win Game 7 back at home; they led the majority of minutes in the series overall (about 65 percent). Portland won a playoff series for the first time since 2000, ending the longest drought in the NBA.
The San Antonio defense is better than Houston's, so I don't know that Lillard and Aldridge will go off quite as much. The Spurs also have a much better bench -- it led the NBA in scoring this season while the Blazers' was last -- than Portland does and they obviously have the playoff experience factor. Portland won the first two meetings this season, at home and on the road, but the Spurs won the last two. Lillard averaged 25.0 points, 6.3 assists and 5.3 rebounds. Aldridge missed one game, a loss, and averaged 21.3 points and 8.0 rebounds. Ginobili surprisingly led the Spurs in scoring against Portland at 17.3 ppg. Duncan missed one game and averaged 15.7 points and 9.3 rebounds. Parker averaged only 12.7 points on 35.6 percent shooting in three games.
Key trends: Portland is 6-1 ATS in its past seven road games. The Spurs are 1-8 ATS in their past nine. The over is 6-1 in the Blazers' past seven after a win. The over is 5-1 in San Antonio's past six. The underdog is 5-1 ATAS in the past six meetings.
Sportsbook.ag series line: Spurs -360, Blazers +280; over/under 5.5 games in series (over -285 favorite).
San Antonio in seven and it will cover a high-scoring Game 1.
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