Home teams remained perfect this week (at least SU), as the Heat eliminated the 76ers in five games with a 97-91 win, the Spurs stayed ‘alive’ with a 110-103 overtime win against the Grizzlies and the Thunder eliminated the Nuggets (also in five games) with a 100-97 win on Wednesday night. However, favorites continued to struggle ATS as the Heat and Thunder failed to cover while the Spurs’ OT win gave some a win on San Antonio and others a closing ‘push.’ The beat goes on. Going back to the 1991 postseason, we’ve averaged right around 77 games each postseason with teams winning SU but failing to win ATS on average, only about 14 times per postseason (right about 18 percent of the time). However, in the 2011 postseason which has seen just 39 games contested through last night, we’ve now seen 13 teams win but not cover (Heat and Thunder joined that group last night), compared to that average of just 14 such instances over each of the last 20 entire postseasons!
Home teams went 32-13 SU for the entire first round last season, including a money-making 29-16 ATS. However, that’s hardly been the case in 2011. All nine home teams have won SU since Monday and have gone 5-2-2 ATS. Home teams are now 30-9 SU in the 2011 playoffs, although they are still a losing proposition ATS, coming in at 15-21-3. Home favorites this postseason are 9-18-2 ATS while home dogs are a solid 6-3-1 ATS. That leaves all favorites a ‘money-burning’ 12-24-3 ATS. All eight games went under the total over the weekend and two of the three stayed under Monday night. However, two of three games have gone over each of the last two nights. Still, under bettors are a solid 24-15 record after 39 games this postseason (61.5 percent). Those following the Zig-Zag Theory went 3-0 on Tuesday but 0-2-1 (although many won with the Spurs) on Wednesday. The Y-T-D mark in the postseason is now 12-16-3 (minus-5.6 net games). Thursday’s plays would again be on all three home teams, Atlanta, New Orleans and Portland.
Wednesday recap: After “The Decision,” the Heat were talking about winning five, six or even seven titles with their new “Big 3” of LBJ, Wade and Bosh. We know this for sure, the Heat are better than the 41-41 76ers, eliminating Philly last night with a 97-91 victory for the team’s first playoff series win since the 2006 NBA Finals. Oklahoma City also advanced to the second round last night. The Thunder actually trailed by nine points (91-82) with 3:30 left in the game but would outscore Denver 18-6 the rest of the way to ‘steal’ the win. Kevin Durant matched his playoff career high with 41 points and scored 14 of Oklahoma City’s final 18 points, including its last nine. While the Thunder advanced to the second round for the first time since the franchise relocated from Seattle to Oklahoma City, the Nuggets failed to make it out of the first round for the seventh time in eight straight postseason appearances.
The “Game of the Night” was Memphis/San Antonio, as undrafted rookie Gary Neal ‘rescued’ the Spurs with a spectacular (improbable!) three-pointer as time expired in regulation. That sent the game into OT and the Spurs would win 110-103, covering the 6 1/2 for some and ‘pushing’ for others. The Spurs continued to have trouble with Randolph (26 & 11) and Gasol (11 & 17) inside but San Antonio’s backcourt really came through. Ginobili had 33, Parker 24, Hill 12 and Neal seven, including his miraculous three-pointer. Only eight teams in NBA history have ever come back from a 3-1 deficit to win a best-of-seven series and the Spurs still need two more wins. As for the Grizzlies, they remain one win away from becoming just the fourth No. 8 seed to beat a No. 1 seed in 56 all-time series. Game 6 is Friday night in Memphis and the early numbers says Memphis minus-2 1/2 and a total of 189 1/2.
Thursday’s games: The Magic, like the Spurs, are trying to become join that group of eight teams in NBA playoff history who have come from a 3-1 deficit and win a best-of-seven series. Tonight’s game tips from Atlanta at 7:35 ET on the NBA Network. Dwight Howard was averaging 32.3 PPG and 17.5 RPG on 66.7 percent shooting for the Magic but the rest of the team was shooting a collective 33.5 percent from the floor, including 21.9 percent on threes through four games of this series. Howard would take just four shots (make one) while scoring eight points and pulling down eight rebounds in game 5 but the Magic won, 101-76. Jason Richardson led the starters with 17 points but it was Orlando's bench, which scored 49 points (after totaling only 69 through the first four games) that was the difference. Atlanta made just 25-of-69 shots in Game 5 (36.2 percent), easily its worst shooting game of the series. The Hawks had been 8-0 ATS vs the Magic this year (regular and postseason). Can the Hawks close it out? Orlando is the two-point favorite and the total is 178.
The TNT doubleheader begins at 8:05 ET in New Orleans, where the two-time defending champs are favored by 5 1/2 points over the Hornets (total is 183). The Hornets have beaten the Lakers in Game 1 when Paul has 33 points, seven rebounds and 14 assists and in Game 4 when he had 27 points, 13 rebounds and 15 assists. However, in Games 2 ,3 and 5 (with Paul averaging “only” 20.7-4.0-9.7), the Lakers have won by nine, 14 and 16 points. The Lakers restored their dominance inside during Game 5, outrebounding the Hornets 42-25, which included a 15-3 advantage in offensive rebounds. That led to a 22-2 advantage in second-chance points. The Lakers also outscored the Hornets 42-30 in the paint. All the talk about LA’s “size and length” is serious stuff.
The second half of the TNT doubleheader features the Mavs in Portland at 10:35 ET to take on the Blazers. Dallas leads this series 3-2 and it is the only series (of the eight) in which the home team has won each game. The Blazers are 46-18 all-time in Portland vs the Mavs in the regular season and 8-1 in playoff games. The Mavs are hardly known as ‘playoff warriors’ and in particular, note the team’s recent failures on the road in the postseason. Since the start of the 2006 NBA Finals, which the Mavs famously lost in six games to the Heat after taking a 2-0 series lead, Dallas has gone just 2-18 SU on the road in the postseason. However, did I mention that Portland is favored by four points here (total is 182) and that Dallas is a perfect 5-0 ATS in this series.