Apparently, Knicks boss Phil Jackson is in no hurry to hire his next full-time coach as he's off vacationing while all these other teams are interviewing (Rockets, Grizzlies, Pacers) or hiring guys (Kings hired former Grizzlies coach Dave Joerger). Bovada has a special prop on the next Knicks coach, and it's not exactly a banner list. Kurt Rambis, who ended the season as the assistant coach and is tight with Jackson, is the -200 favorite. Most believe that if Jackson insists on keeping the triangle offense, Rambis will get the gig. Former Pacers coach Frank Vogel is +200, followed by ex-Cavs coach David Blatt (+500) and former Knicks player and Warriors coach Mark Jackson (+600). No one else wants Rambis, so maybe that's why Phil Jackson is taking his sweet time. I do think it will be him.
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Game 5: No. 3 Heat at No. 2 Raptors (-4.5, 189)
This series lost a bit of luster when each team lost its big man to injury. And it's not expected that Miami's Hassan Whiteside or Toronto's Jonas Valanciunas will return in the series. I guess that evens things out. For sure Valanciunas won't return this series, so that makes me wonder if he'd be ready for the start of the Eastern Conference Finals against Cleveland if the Raptors get there. He had been Toronto's best player the first three games vs. Miami, averaging 18.3 points on 64.9 percent shooting and 12.7 rebounds. Toronto started Bismack Biyombo in Monday's Game 4 in Miami and the Heat won the third overtime game of this series, 94-87. The Raptors really blew that one as they had a nine-point lead but then were gassed in OT and scored just four points. Miami led for only 13 seconds in the fourth quarter but never trailed in overtime. Once again, Toronto's All-Star backcourt struggled mightily. DeMar DeRozan was 4-for-17 for nine points and Kyle Lowry 2-for-11 for 10. At this point, those guys misfiring isn't a surprise any longer but clearly a trend. Both are battling injuries. Biyombo filled in nicely with 13 points and 13 rebounds and was plus-11.
Dwyane Wade largely carried the Heat with a game-high 30 points in Game 4, two nights after scoring 38 in a 95-91 Game 3 loss. It marked the first time Wade finished with consecutive 30-point games in the playoffs since he recorded three 30-point games in a row during the 2010 postseason. Wade had the tying layup with 12 seconds in regulation on Monday. He shot 13-for-24 and the rest of his teammates shot 23-for-56. Miami won this game despite shooting 1-for-15 from 3-point range. Amare Stoudemire started for Whiteside and had six points and three rebounds in 12 minutes. Guys like Josh McRoberts and Udonis Haslem also got more minutes (or any). The Heat didn't use any of their reserve centers in overtime, however. Plus, rookie Justise Winslow played 31 minutes after not seeing the floor in Game 3. This has not been a pretty series at all. Just one team has reached triple digits: the Heat in their Game 1 win.
Key trends: The Heat are 4-1 against the spread in its past five after a win. The Raptors are 0-4 ATS in their past four at home. The "over/under" has gone under in eight of Miami's past nine. The under is 10-2 in Toronto's past 12.
Early lean: Heat and under.
Game 5: No. 5 Trail Blazers at No. 1 Warriors (-12, 216.5)
How ridiculous is Steph Curry? On the day the news broke that he was going to be named NBA MVP for a second straight season, Curry went from doubtful to return from his knee injury for Monday's Game 4 in Portland to questionable to playing off the bench. He was a bit rusty early -- missed his first nine 3-pointers -- but went nuts in overtime with 17 points in the Warriors' 132-125 OT win for a 3-1 lead. Those 17 points were an NBA record for an OT, playoffs or regular season. The previous mark was 16 by Gilbert Arenas in a 2006 regular-season game. Curry had 27 of his 40 total points after the third quarter and became only the second player in the past 30 years to pour in 40 off the bench in a playoff game. The other was Nick Van Exel in 2003. Curry didn't just single-handedly outscore Portland in OT, he also outscored the Heat and Raptors combined in their OT. Entering the game, Warriors coach Steve Kerr said Curry would be on a 25-minute limit. But that went out the window when Shaun Livingston was ejected for arguing a call late in the first half. Draymond Green had another strong game with 21 points, nine rebounds, seven blocks, five assists and four steals. Klay Thompson had 23 points. The Warriors are 11-0, counting the playoffs, in games after a loss this season.
I think the Blazers just threw their best punch and that this series ends on Wednesday. Damian Lillard did all he could in Game 4 with 36 points and 10 assists for Portland but missed a potential winner in regulation. C.J. McCollum had 24 points, while Mason Plumlee added 12 points and 15 rebounds. The Blazers, who led Game 4 16-2 at one point, actually could be the ones leading this series 3-1. "Do I think they're done?" Green said post-game Monday, repeating back a question about the Blazers. "Of course they're done."
Key trends: The Blazers are 0-8 ATS in their past eight after scoring at least 100 points in their previous game. The Warriors are 7-0 ATS in their past seven at home. The over is 9-1 in each team's past 10 vs. clubs with a winning record. The over is 9-1 in the past 10 meetings.
Early lean: The Warriors will want this over to rest up for the Spurs-Thunder winner. Give the points -- as long as Curry is fine to play again -- and go over.
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Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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