Submitted by Jim Hurley on Thursday, May 1, 2014 at 7:00 AM
It’s been a sustained train wreck that may have started back in late January…run through the All-Star Break…then officially grinded to a halt in the first round of the NBA Playoffs. The season may be hours away from ending for Indiana Pacers…the #1 seed in the Eastern Conference. They trail the Atlanta Hawks three games to two with Game Six in Atlanta tonight. A seventh game, if forced by the Pacers, would be in Indianapolis…where the Pacers have struggled in recent weeks anyway.
There are so many amazing stories right now in the NBA Playoffs. Indiana is lucky Donald Sterling’s girlfriend came along! Falling from 33-7 through the first 40 games to being a team unable to play consistently competitive ball against the lowly Atlanta Hawks has to be the greatest non-injury related collapse ever. There’s not even anything you can compare it too.
*These kinds of collapses are usually triggered by an injury to a star player
*These kinds of collapses happen much lower down on the totem pole (never to #1 seeds)
*First round upsets are usually triggered by great shooting or great defense from a #8 seed
Indiana didn’t suffer any major injuries. Indiana spent the last quarter of the season playing at the level of the Milwaukee Bucks in terms of margin differential…but they were so high up on the totem pole initially that the slump didn’t drag them down at all. Indiana didn’t run into a buzzsaw in the first round, even if Atlanta is shooting pretty well from long range.
THE SERIES SO FAR
Game One: Atlanta (+7.5) beat Indiana 101-93
Game Two: Indiana (-7.5) beat Atlanta 101-85
Game Three: Atlanta (+2) beat Indiana 98-85
Game Four: Indiana (-2.5) beat Atlanta 91-88
Game Five: Atlanta (+7) beat Indiana 107-97
Hey, at least it wasn’t a sweep! And, there’s no guarantee that Indiana’s season will end tonight. They did pull the pieces together enough to win on this floor in Game Four. There seem to be competing influences within the team…some who want to win…some who haven’t cared for several weeks.
SERIES STRENGTHS FOR ATLANTA
Making tons of treys: 11-10-12-11-15 per game
Adequate inside defense, against admittedly dysfunctional Pacers offense
Getting to the free throw line (31 more attempts thus far)
Atlanta is launching about 30 treys per game…so that volume isn’t quite as great as it looks. But, the effective field goal percentage still works out to better than what Indiana has been able to do. Atlanta is basically playing like Houston…either long range bombs or attacks of the basket which draw fouls. Houston would be a great team in the East because they’re better at those things than Atlanta is! Gimmicks can work in the glorified D-League (excluding the legitimately great Miami Heat).
SERIES STRENGTHS FOR INDIANA
Rebounding (20 more thus far)
The bench sometimes scores in bunches
Haven’t strangled each other yet
Indiana still owns the boards, even if they’re not doing it as dramatically as they used to. A #1 seed is supposed to have a lot of strengths in an opening round series against a #8. Indiana literally has nothing else going for them. The offense looks is hysterical on some possessions. Their inside defense comes and goes depending on their mood. The bad team from the last quarter of the season is doing what you’d expect vs. a below .500 team like Atlanta. Capable of hanging around, but not capable of taking command.
Game Six Vegas Line: Indiana by 1, total of 187.5
The line opened Indiana -2, consistent with the earlier games in Atlanta. Early smart money on the dog brought the line lower. Sharps seem to think that the Pacers are finished. The public may hit them on game day as a “must win” team with their backs to the wall. But, the public is paying close enough attention to think long and hard about that approach.
JIM HURLEY has been working with his sources to get a read on Indiana’s mindset. If they’ve thrown in the towel, then Atlanta should be a medium-sized favorite. If Indiana is ready for one-last stand, then they’ll offer value in a game they can win. This came could easily be part of Thursday’s GAME SIX PARLAY that you can purchase right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions about basketball or baseball service, call us in the office at 1-888-777-4155. Don’t forget to ask about this year’s TRIPLE CROWN that begins this Saturday with THE KENTUCKY DERBY. Nobody does horse racing like JIM HURLEY!
Back with you Friday for what will likely be a preview of Game Six of Toronto/Brooklyn. Saturday and Sunday will be for Game Sevens if any series goes the distance. Next week, Round Two begins. If it’s anything like Round One…keep those seat belts fastened!
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