Submitted by Jim Hurley on Sunday, May 20, 2012 at 10:54 PM
We have a pivotal fifth game Monday Night in the Boston-Philadelphia series that’s knotted up at two games apiece, and perhaps the series finale in Oklahoma City-LA Lakers as the exhausted series underdogs try to find a way to win when playing their fourth game in six days.
Could Philadelphia pull off a shocker tonight and go on to knock out Boston. Can you imagine a Conference Finals without the Lakers and Celtics happening for the second year in a row?! And, what will tonight mean for the future of this Lakers group. Has Andrew Bynum had enough hero-ball from Kobe Bryant…meaning he’s ready to move on to a team that will let him be their superstar? Can Mike Brown keep his job as head coach given how poorly the Lakers have played late in close games?
So many questions…let’s see what the numbers say…
BOSTON vs. PHILADELPHIA
Game Five Vegas Line: Boston by 5.5, total of 174
Series tied 2-2
The market has moved a bit toward Boston, as this is their highest home price in this series so far (barely). Clearly oddsmakers and early bettors are expecting a bounce-back off the Game Four loss. Remember that the first two games in this series were decided by one point…so the line you’re seeing is pretty far off the established norm through two games on this court. That’s respect for Boston. Oddsmakers aren’t sure what to do with the total. Two games went Over easily so far, and even Game Four snuck Over at the very end when it looked like a dead nuts Under most of the night. The sequence so far is 183-163-198-175. Will the teams follow that pattern? Or, will the defenses really clamp down hard now with so much at stake tonight?
GAME FOUR SUMMARY
PHILADELPHIA 92, BOSTON 83
Field Goal Pct: Boston 42%, Philadelphia 48%
Three-Pointers: Boston 7/23, Philadelphia 5/11
Free Throws: Boston 16/19, Philadelphia 26/36
Rebounds: Boston 38, Philadelphia 52
Turnovers: Boston 17, Philadelphia 11
Vegas Line: Philadelphia by 2, total of 174
A lot of basketball has been played elsewhere since this one Friday Night. It’s easy to forget what a dramatic comeback the Sixers pulled off here…in advance of other dramatic comebacks from San Antonio and Oklahoma City. You get the sense that Boston has a lot of confidence in this series…and that confidence turns into overconfidence at very bad times. The Celtics ARE the better team on paper. All that’s gotten them is one big win, one ridiculous collapse, and a couple of coin flips. When Boston takes its foot off the gas, they get squashed in the hustle stats. Note how Philadelphia won free throws huge (helped partly by some friendly officiating), rebounds, and turnovers. Boston figured the Sixers were going to give up….the Sixers kept battling like warriors and earned their victory with a great fourth quarter.
JIM HURLEY is looking forward to at least two more games in this series, and possibly three. He believes the texture of the schedule is going to play a big role in shaping pointspread results from this point forward. We have to say we can’t remember the nature of the schedule playing THIS big a role in the playoffs for many years. Sometimes it’s about playing a lot of games in a short amount of time. Sometimes it’s about having a couple of days to rest just when you need it.
OKLAHOMA CITY vs. LA LAKERS
Game Five Vegas Line: Oklahoma City by 8, total of 192
Oklahoma City leads 3-1
More respect here for the host as well in terms of what’s been happening earlier in the series. In fact, you can’t really justify a line of OKC by 8 based on what we’ve seen on the floor. Yes, the Thunder won the series opener big when the Lakers were exhausted after a Game Seven vs. Denver. Otherwise it’s been three nailbiters…three nailbiters the Lakers believe they should have won!
Why are the Thunder so high? The Lakers are exhausted again. This will be the fourth game in six days in this series after the weekend back-to-back. LA’s big four of Kobe-Bynum-Gasol-Artest played between 39-43 minutes Saturday Night in Game Four. You saw how tired they looked while blowing their 13-point lead. Nobody could guard Russell Westbrook. Nobody could make a shot. The legs were gone. When the Lakers had no legs in Game One, they lost by 29 points.
Clearly, assessing LA’s ability to come back after just one day off will be key to handicapping what the market believes will be the series finale. JIM HURLEY has been working closely with his sources to get a read on the Lakers physical and mental condition.
GAME FOUR SUMMARY
OKLAHOMA CITY 103, LA LAKERS 100
Field Goal Pct: Oklahoma City 49%, Lakers 43%
Three-Pointers: Oklahoma City 6/16, Lakers 5/18
Free Throws: Oklahoma City 21/25, Lakers 21/29
Rebounds: Oklahoma City 39, Lakers 43
Turnovers: Oklahoma City 7, Lakers 8
Vegas Line: Oklahoma City by 1.5, total of 188.5
The Lakers were able to win Game Three when they had a ridiculous edge in free throws (42-28 in attempts, 41-26 in makes, in a game they only won by three). The refs blew the whistles for three quarters here, but pretty much swallowed them when the game was on the line in the fourth. The tired Lakers CAN’T SCORE when they’re not getting calls against good defenses! Kobe Bryant would rather force up a bad shot than pass. And, attempts to get the ball inside to Bynum aren’t going to work when there’s no ball movement against a smart defense that’s fronting him on one-side and ready to help on the back.
It’s scary when the guy who best knows the percentage game is Metta World Peace!
That being said, the Lakers defense has done enough to keep them within striking distance in three of four games. When they get tired, they can’t stay with Westbrook…which is what allowed the youngster to take over the fourth quarter in Game Four. That’s why everything in Game Five is about Lakers fatigue. A tired team that’s sick of each other will get blown out the way they were last year in Dallas. An angry team that isn’t ready to give up yet can definitely stay within this high number.
JIM HURLEY’S top basketball plays go up daily a few hours before tipoff. You can lock yourself into the rest of baskets at a great price too. The Monday Night baseball card is busy, as we return to regular schedules in after a brief weekend interlude of Interleague play. Here are a few series of interest for us the next few days:
Washington at Philadelphia (turning into a grudge rivalry)
Atlanta at Cincinnati
LA Dodgers at Arizona
Boston at Baltimore
Toronto at Tampa Bay
Detroit at Cleveland (starts Tuesday)
We know more and more of you are starting to get into the baseball now that the basketball schedule is calming down. WIN BIG with JIM HURLEY online, or by calling us in the office at 1-800-323-4453.
We’ve had a lot of drama already in the early stages of the NBA Playoffs. And, the upcoming conference championships are shaping up to be fascinating indeed. Who’s going to ultimate win the West? What surprises remain in the volatile East? When championships are on the line, you need WORLD CHAMPION HANDICAPPER JIM HURLEY!