Submitted by Jim Hurley on Thursday, May 17, 2012 at 6:53 PM
We were so close this past Wednesday Night to seeing a resurgence of the NBA’s most storied franchises. Boston crushed Philadelphia, putting themselves back into the discussion as a possible threat to win the Eastern Conference. The LA Lakers were two minutes away from stunning Oklahoma City on the road to snatch home court advantage from one of the Western favorites.
Oh well…you now have to wonder if Kobe Bryant can lead a team to greatness any more given the way he monopolizes the ball at the worst possible times. Boston’s veterans may have another run in them. Kobe may have blown his last shot at playoff relevance with a late game implosion.
Let’s crunch some numbers from Wednesday to see how they might apply to what’s going to happen Friday Night when the Celtics and Lakers take the floor again in their respective playoff battles.
BOSTON vs. PHILADELPHIA
Game Four Vegas Line: Philadelphia by 2, total of 173.5
Boston leads 2-1
The market price on the Sixers hasn’t moved even though Boston was clearly dominant in Game Three. To us, that doesn’t mean that the market is thinking of this as an “even” series and the Sixers are going to automatically knot things up at two apiece. It’s more a case of everyone realize it’s now or never for Philly. They either play their best game of the playoffs tonight or this series is all but over. If Philly can play that best game, then a price of -2 is justifiable. The stats you’re about to read show that Boston should be a road favorite when they give a game peak priority.
The total is up a point after the relatively high scoring Game Two. That one landed on 198 because Boston attacked the basket with authority, then backed off on defense a bit when they had a big lead. If you like Philly to bounce back, you probably like the Under in what should be a more tightly played game. If you think Boston is ready to start sealing the deal…then Over this very low total would make sense in a series that’s landed on 183, 163, and 198 through three games.
GAME THREE SUMMARY
BOSTON 107, PHILADELPHIA 91
Field Goal Pct: Boston 52%, Philadelphia 41%
Three-Pointers: Boston 5/11, Philadelphia 8/15
Free Throws: Boston 22/28, Philadelphia 17/22
Rebounds: Boston 44, Philadelphia 37
Turnovers: Boston 7, Philadelphia 9
Vegas Line: Philadelphia by 2, total of 172.5
Sometimes blowouts are caused by fluky things that aren’t likely to repeat themselves. Maybe a team shoots lights out from behind the three-point line. Maybe a team has a ridiculous edge from the free throw line of +20 or +25. Maybe the losing team just couldn’t buy a basket, and they’re likely to regress to the mean in the next game.
You don’t see any of that above. Boston did shoot well on treys, but Philadelphia shot better and made more of them. Boston was more aggressive in attacking the basket, but that only resulted in +5 in made free throws. Philadelphia shot fairly normally for a playoff game for them. This wasn’t a “fluke” blowout. This is how much better Boston is than Philly when Boston is fired up and embarrassed. They realized they couldn’t just show up and win (which they tried in Game Two). They showed up and dominated.
Compounding matters for Philadelphia, they just don’t have an offensive option they can trust when it’s time to score. They’ve managed to win some coin flip endings in the playoffs just because somebody has to win the coin flips. Here, when the game was getting away from them…the Sixers just stepped out of the way and let the train go by. Good luck with that the rest of the way.
The numbers have now made it clear who the superior team is. But, we have seen Boston slack off already in the playoffs once they start feeling comfortable. And, we’ve seen that Philly can hang with and beat teams who aren’t at full speed physically or focus-wise. That means INFORMATION FROM NETWORK SOURCES is going to mean everything for JIM HURLEY’S selection here. If Boston shows up, they should be the favorite in a game that goes Over a low total. If Boston relaxes, then it’s dog or Under offering the best value.
OKLAHOMA CITY vs. LA LAKERS
Game Three Vegas Line: Lakers by 2.5, total of 192
Oklahoma City leads 2-0
We switch sites, and the line moves 10 points from Oklahoma City -7.5 at home to +2.5 on the road. Some of that is the respect the Lakers get at home…and some of that is the “must win” element being factored into the line. That’s a bigger move than we’ve seen in other series…and may ultimately be wishful thinking from a market that still tends to expect too much from this Lakers group (though LA did cover Game Two and should have won it outright).
The total has dropped three points after that astonishing 152 in Game Two that had people wondering if they were watching an Eastern Conference game instead. Note that the first game had a low tempo with great shooting…and the numbers gurus amongst the sharps pay a lot of attention to pace factor.
GAME TWO SUMMARY
OKLAHOMA CITY 77, LA LAKERS 75
Field Goal Pct: Lakers 39%, Oklahoma City 42%
Three-Pointers: Lakers 44%, Oklahoma City 44%
Free Throws: Lakers 13/14, Oklahoma City 13/16
Rebounds: Lakers 41, Oklahoma City 36
Turnovers: Lakers 12, Oklahoma City 13
Vegas Line: Oklahoma City by 7.5, total of 195.5
Oklahoma City only scored 29 points in the second half. So, you have to give a ton of credit to the Lakers defense for shutting down some dynamic scoring forces. They didn’t allow open looks. And, they didn’t go hack crazy and put OKC on the free throw line. A tremendous defensive job that was flushed down the toilet with a horrible last two minutes where Kobe Bryant kept missing shots or handing the ball away for easy OKC points. This isn’t quite Willie Mays in his last year with the Mets. But it’s a sign that the Lakers need to start thinking about the future instead of assuming their past is going to get them anywhere any more.
Many good teams have had off nights. So, you don’t want to sour too much on Oklahoma City’s title hopes just because they looked so sluggish here. You only have to win four games in each series…and nobody’s perfect. Still, this looked way too much like last year’s Dallas series in terms of OKC not knowing how to handle fourth quarter pressure. Heck, they had trouble at home vs. Dallas THIS year too! They did accept the gifts that were handed to them Wednesday Night. But, a medium home favorite shouldn’t be sweating a game where the visitor ends with 75 points.
JIM HURLEY has a special strategy in place for the back-to-back in this series (these teams play Friday Night AND Saturday Night in Staples). You’ll have to purchase the game day picks or sign up for the full postseason package (at a low rate!) to find out what that is.
You can always link up with JIM HURLEY right here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions, call the office at 1-800-323-4453. This is a GREAT time to sign up because we have INTERLEAGUE baseball starting Friday AND the Preakness going Saturday!
MARQUEE INTERLEAGUE MATCHUPS THIS WEEKEND
Chicago White Sox at Chicago Cubs
Boston at Philadelphia
Baltimore at Washington
Cincinnati at NY Yankees
Atlanta at Tampa Bay
Oakland at San Francisco
A great mix of rivalry games and marquee matchups this weekend in the bases. And, as with every Triple Crown race, you can purchase the showcase event or the FULL DAY at the track at a great price on Saturday.
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