NBA Odds: Wednesday, May 14, 2014 Opening Line Report and Handicapping
by Alan Matthews - 5/13/2014
I'm not going to bury the lead here. I fully expect Eastern Conference favorite Miami and Western Conference favorite San Antonio finish off their conference semifinals foes at home on Wednesday night and advance. This is one of those times I hope I'm wrong because I'd like every series to go seven games just as a basketball fan, but I don't see that happening here. Maybe Clippers-Thunder will go seven, but that's likely it.
Game 5: Nets at Heat (-7, 188.5)
I'm not a huge LeBron James fan in all honesty. I think he's a whiner. I'm more of a Kevin Durant guy, especially after his NBA MVP speech. That said, there's really no question who the better player is. The only reason James didn't win MVP this season was a bit of LeBron fatigue by voters. It's why Michael Jordan didn't win about eight MVP Awards. While Durant has been criticized for being too passive at times in these playoffs and often ceding the final shot of a game to Russell Westbrook, LeBron completely took control of Miami's 102-96 victory in Brooklyn on Monday night with a career-high-playoff-tying 49 points. It was actually funny to see his reaction when James missed a late free throw for 50 -- you could see he was peeved. Actually, James didn't hit the key shot in the game. He passed out of a crowded situation, and the ball would eventually end up in Chris Bosh's hand for a corner tiebreaking 3-pointer with 57 seconds left. No other Heat player had more than 15 points. Miami shot 52.9 percent from the field mainly because James was 16-for-24. The Heat have won 10 straight playoff games following a loss.
Really the only chance the Nets have is if they are hitting 3-pointers. They did in Game 3 but were 5-for-22 in Game 4. Mirza Teletovic, who had been 11 of 19 from long range in the series, was 0-for-3. Joe Johnson took two really bad shots in the final minute while guarded by James, who had five fouls. Johnson finished with a quiet 18 points on 5-for-15 from the field. The Nets had just one field goal in the final 4:24. Only eight teams in NBA history have rallied to win a series down 3-1. Miami is 6-0 in the past four years in Game 5s when it leads 3-1.Coach Jason Kidd needs to pull Paul Pierce off of James because Pierce simply can't guard him anymore. Use more of Andrei Kirilenko or Shaun Livingston on LeBron.
Key trends: Brooklyn is 2-5 ATS in its past seven after allowing 100 points or more in its previous game. The Heat are 4-0 ATS in their past four when scoring 100 points or more in their previous game. The "over" is 4-1 in the Nets' past five road games. The over is 4-1 in the Heat's past five overall. The "under" is 6-1 in the past seven meetings in Miami.
Updated Sportsbook.ag series line: Heat -10000, Nets +2500
Early lean: I think the Heat win regardless. Whether they cover might depend on if the Pacers beat the Wizards on Tuesday. If that happens, Miami knows Indiana is up next and already has an extra day of rest. Thus, the Heat will be very motivated to end this. Should Indiana lose I could see some of the motivation slipping away the Nets at least cover.
Game 5: Trail Blazers at Spurs (-8, 208.5)
You could sort of see Portland's 103-92 victory in Game 4 coming as the Blazers were always unlikely to get swept, and with the Spurs up 3-0 and heading home after, their energy level clearly was down. Even Tim Duncan said this afterward: "You don't always get to sweep every series." The Spurs really didn't care much. Portland led at halftime for the first time in the series and then outscored San Antonio 35-20 in the third to pull away. It was the first game in which Damian Lillard (25 points, plus-17 rating) outplayed Tony Parker (14 points, minus-17 rating). For the most part, Nicolas Batum guarded Parker, not Lillard. The Blazers played a second straight game without sixth man Mo Williams (groin injury), and he's questionable at best for this one. Portland's bench had been terrible this series, but Will Barton took advantage of plenty of playing time in Game 4 with 17 points. Thomas Robinson also was good off the bench (nine points, five rebounds, several hustle plays).
On the bright side for the Spurs, they should have plenty in the tank for this one because no one played more than 27 minutes. Gregg Popovich threw in the towel at the end of the third quarter. No team has rallied from a 3-0 series deficit to win in the NBA, although Portland did recover from a 3-0 hole against Dallas in 2003 only to lose Game 7. San Antonio has never been pushed to a sixth game when taking a 3-0 series lead. The top concern going forward for the Spurs is that Manu Ginobili is struggling in a big way, much like he did in last year's playoffs. He was just 1-for-6 from the field in Game 4, his second game this series with only two points. He's shooting 26.3 percent overall. The Spurs don't need him to beat the Blazers. They do against the Thunder/Clippers/Heat.
Key trends : Portland is 1-7 ATS in its past eight games. The Spurs are 1-7 ATS after allowing 100 points or more in their previous game. The over is 6-1 in Portland's past seven on the road. It is 7-1 in the Blazers' past eight after a win. The over is 5-0 in San Antonio's past five at home.
Updated Sportsbook.ag series line: Spurs -10000, Blazers +2500
This series really hasn't been close. Portland had led only twice for less than a minute combined entering Game 4. San Antonio led by an average of 22
points at halftime. Whatever effort was missing Monday will be there Wednesday. Spurs cover.
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