Interesting news out of Indiana after the Pacers were eliminated by Toronto over the weekend. Pacers coach Frank Vogel is very highly regarded around the NBA, but his contract expires and there's been no talk with the team about an extension. That seems a little odd. He would immediately jump to the front of the line for a few jobs, especially with Luke Walton off the market after accepting the Lakers gig. The Knicks and Rockets almost surely would like to talk with Vogel. He grew up in South Jersey an admirer of Knicks team president Phil Jackson, although Vogel doesn't run Jackson's triangle offense. Vogel also was an advance scout for Jackson's Lakers in 2005-06. He could still take over as coach and the Knicks could move Kurt Rambis back to an assistant's role as a pseudo-offensive coordinator to run the triangle.
Game 1: No. 3 Heat at No. 2 Raptors (-4.5, 191)
The Eastern Conference was all chalk in the first round, with No. 1 Cleveland and No. 4 Atlanta advancing on the other side of the bracket and starting their series on Monday night. Miami beat visiting Charlotte in Game 7 on Sunday, 106-73. It was Miami's fourth straight Game 7 victory and 10th straight postseason win when scoring at least 100 points. It was the fifth-largest margin of victory in a Game 7 all-time. The record is 40. Under coach Erik Spoelstra, the Heat are now 15-4 in postseason series, 8-4 when facing elimination games and 15-5 in games when they have a chance to oust an opponent. Luol Deng averaged 19.0 points against Charlotte, nearly seven points more than his season average. Hassan Whiteside had 24 blocks in the series, the most ever for a Miami player in a seven-game series. Dwyane Wade is nine points shy from Elgin Baylor (3,623) for 16th place on the NBA's all-time playoff scoring list and 28 short of Scottie Pippen for 15th.
Toronto won a Game 7 for the first time in franchise history and advanced to the conference semifinals for only the second time -- the 15-year drought was the longest active drought between series wins -- with an 89-84 home victory over Indiana on Sunday. DeMar DeRozan had 30 points and Jonas Valanciunas had 15 rebounds and 10 points. But the Raptors aren't beating the Heat if Kyle Lowry doesn't get going. He shot 31.6 percent from the field in the series and averaged 13.5 points. He shot 42.7 during the season and averaged 21.2 points. The Raptors are playing the Heat for the first time ever in the playoffs. Toronto won the season series 3-1.
Series line: Raptors -165, Heat +145
Key trends: The Heat are 4-0 against the spread in their past four Tuesday games. The Raptors are 4-9 ATS in their past 13 after a win. The "over/under" has gone under in five straight Heat games. It is 7-1 in Toronto's past eight overall.
Early lean: The Heat won at least one game on the road in 17 consecutive playoff series, the longest streak in NBA history. I like them here. Go under.
Game 2: No. 5 Trail Blazers at No. 1 Warriors (-10, 213.5)
If Portland has any shot at winning this series, and I don't really think it does, then the Blazers probably have to steal this game because Steph Curry seems to think he will be able to return from his knee injury in Game 3 on Saturday. What's with the three days off in between games? Although if the Warriors are up 2-0, I probably wouldn't play Curry yet. Golden State took Game 1 on Sunday, 118-106. Klay Thompson stepped up and had 37 points, hitting 7-for-14 from 3-point range. He became the first player in NBA history to make at least seven 3s in three straight playoff games. Thompson is averaging 27.0 points in seven games without Curry this season. In the past three games, Thompson is 21-of-36 on 3-pointers. Draymond Green had a triple-double of 23 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists.
Thompson also was great defensively as the Blazers shot 2-for-16 when Thompson was the primary defender, including 2-of-13 from Damian Lillard. He finished with 30 points to lead the Blazers but needed 26 shots to do it. Lillard, who was playing through a chest cold, didn't get much help with C.J. McCollum hitting 5-for-17 from the field for 12 points. Mason Plumlee had one point in 25 minutes. The undersized Blazers were outrebounded 55-40, with the Warriors grabbing 16 offensive boards. I suppose if you want to look on the bright side if a Blazers fan, they outscored the Warriors 55-53 in the second half, including 33-25 in the fourth quarter.
Series line: Warriors -3000, Trail Blazers +1200
Key trends: The Blazers are 0-6 ATS in their past six after scoring at least 100 points in the previous game. The Warriors have covered six straight at home. The over is 10-4 in Portland's past 14 road games. The over is 7-0 in Golden State's past seven vs. teams with a winning record. The over is 13-3 in the past 16 meetings.
Early lean: Warriors and over.
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Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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