The first round of the NBA Playoffs continues on Wednesday as the Oklahoma City Thunder travel to Texas to take on the Dallas Mavericks. The game is scheduled for a 9:30 pm start time and it will be televised live on TNT. Currently the odds have Dallas favored by 3.5 points with the total sitting at 194.5 points for the contest.
Free Analysis: Game one of the series went to the Thunder with the help of a “lucky” bounce from a Kevin Durant game winner and the sequel provided another close finish as the Thunder won by 102-99 to take a 2-0 series lead. Although his team is scoring 100.5 PPG on 47% FG in this series, SF Kevin Durant has not been shooting well at all. He’s averaging 25.5 PPG, but on a woeful 34.1% FG clip, including 3-of-12 threes. Durant has also been careless with the basketball, committing nine turnovers to just five assists. PG Russell Westbrook’s offense has been stellar (28.5 PPG on 52% FG), but his 1:1 ratio of seven assists and seven turnovers needs to improve. SG James Harden has shown no ill effects from the concussion suffered after being elbowed by Metta World Peace, scoring 17.0 PPG (43% threes) with 4.0 APG and 2.0 SPG in the series. PF Serge Ibaka and C Kendrick Perkins have done a nice job on the defensive end with a combined eight blocks and 12.0 RPG in the series. Oklahoma City has now beaten the Mavericks in five of six meetings this season, but the final victory margins have all been close: 1, 2, 3, 4 and 9 points. Oklahoma City has been even tougher when well-rested this season, going 8-2 (7-3 ATS) with at least two off-days in between games. The Mavs have also played well with two days of rest going 4-2 (SU and ATS) and limiting these six opponents to 93.8 PPG. Dallas hurt itself with poor three-point accuracy in Game 2 (5-for-23), but hasn’t really been a great long-range shooting team all year at 33.9%. However, the Mavericks are 23-10 SU (16-16-1 ATS) at home this season and the Thunder have had no answer for Dirk Nowitzki, who has 28.0 PPG on 49% FG in the series. Nowitzki also torched OKC last year with 32.2 PPG on 56% FG in the Western Conference Finals. But the Mavs need a consistent second scorer. SG Jason Terry shot lights-out in Game 1 (20 points, 8-of-10 FG), but tallied just 13 points on 5-of-12 FG (2-of-6 threes) in the Game 2 defeat. SF Shawn Marion is the only other Dallas player averaging double-figure scoring in this series with 16.0 PPG and 8.0 RPG. Veterans SG Vince Carter and PG Jason Kidd need to find their offense quickly. Carter is shooting 30% FG in the series and Kidd is even worse at 22%.
Free Pick: Dallas really played well in their two games at Oklahoma City, but still came up short in both games. They are the defending champs and are not going to give up their title without a fight, so I expect them to get a solid win tonight. Despite how well they played in the first two, the fact remains that they are down 2-0 and will need to win game three or they will have to come back from a 3-0 deficit, a feat that has never been achieved in NBA history. The mavs play great defense at home (92.8 ppg) and when they are off two days rest they have allowed just 93.8 ppg, while the Thunder have allowed 97.6 ppg on the road. Dallas has shown that they can score with this team, but at home they will come up with a few more stops than the Thunder and that will allow them to win by 6 or so here.
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Betting Strategies: Handicapping NBA PlayoffsHost Marco D'Angelo and Pregame Pro Vegas Runner discuss their strategies about betting the NBA Playoffs and being successful.