Submitted by Jim Hurley on Wednesday, May 16, 2012 at 10:41 AM
Always-emotional Philadelphia 76ers head coach Doug Collins said about his young-and-growing team following Monday's 82-81 Game #2 win in Boston that, "All season long we couldn't win these games and now are guys are believing they can do it. And it is pretty special to watch."
Well, don't look now but the Sixers - who toppled an albeit injury-battered Chicago Bulls team in Round I while entering that Eastern Conference playoff series a whopping 9-to-1 underdog - now have wrestled away home-court advantage from the Boston Celtics while heading into tonight's Game #3 tilt in Philly with the series knotted at a game apiece.
Suddenly, the here-and-now Sixers are becoming "the story" in this year's NBA Playoffs.
C'mon, everyone expected the likes of the Miami Heat and San Antonio Spurs and Oklahoma City Thunder still to be standing come the second round of post-season play - but the Philadelphia 76ers?
Keep in mind this club endured a 2-7 record from March 30th through April 17th and the general consensus was that Collins' club would eventually lose its grip on a post-season berth and Milwaukee would march into one of those final couple of slots ... but Philly regrouped with four wins in a row to right the ship and, let's face it, the Sixers were "smart enough" to get in position to play Chicago and not mighty Miami in the opening round of the playoffs and things indeed have been "pretty special" since the so-called second season began.
Does Philadelphia now need to win both Game 3 and Game 4 at home against the Celtics to win this series -- or could they split here and still win once more in Beantown in either a Game 5 or Game 7 and still get "mission accomplished"?
We'll find out soon enough, won't we?
Okay, so following Tuesday night's tilts - Indiana's 78-75 upset of the 6 ½-point Chris Bosh-less Miami Heat and San Antonio's 108-92 workmanlike win against the 11 ½-point road underdog Los Angeles Clippers - NBA Playoff Betting Favorites are 25-23-2 ATS (against the spread) for a .521 winning rate. Pretty much par for the course after 50 playoff games but take note that there have been outright upset wins in each of the last three days (see LA Clippers over Memphis, Philadelphia over Boston and the aforementioned Indiana win in Miami) and so do not be surprised when/if the upset bug bites these next couple of nights.
Now, here's what is on tap for Wednesday night NBA Playoff action:
Tonight at 7:05 p.m. ET. it's ... BOSTON at PHILADELPHIA - Series tied 1-1
Okay, so the Sixers may have let Game 1 get away from 'em at the end but that Game 2 victory that "featured" Philly winning despite turning the ball over 16 times and shooting a wobbly 40.8 from the field (that's 31-of-76 FG makes) calmed the 76ers fears that they couldn't close out the C's. No doubt young Evan Turner hit the game's biggest shot with his lay-up with 40 seconds left but how about the fact Philadelphia canned all six of his late-game free throws ... you don't see that every day in the NBA.
If Boston - a 2-point dog at press time for this Game 3 affair - is gonna grab back the home court advantage tonight than it's imperative that Paul Pierce becomes a factor from the proverbial get-go. Pierce - as you all know by now - scored just 7 points in Game 2 on 2-of-9 FG shooting and his aching knee could be causing more problems than Doc Rivers and the Celtics are letting on.
Here's how the Celtics-76ers Eastern Conference Semifinal Series has gone so far (note all home teams are in CAPS):
|5-12||BOSTON||- 5.5||Philadelphia||BOSTON 92-91|
|5-14||BOSTON||- 4.5||Philadelphia||Philadelphia 82-81|
Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers will prove once again to be the champions of the NBA Playoffs as they continue to shine this post-season and remember the playoffs will run straight through the end of June plus there are loads of winners this 2012 Major-League Baseball season too and so sign up today and get it all - Hoops and Baseball every day and nights! Just be sure to check in with us either right here online or else at our toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 for all the daily and nightly NBA and MLB winners.
Tonight at 9:35 p.m. ET, it's ...LOS ANGLES LAKERS at OKLAHOMA CITY - Thunder leads series 1-0
Take that, Metta World Peace!
Okay, so Monday night's 119-90 beat-down of the weary Los Angeles Lakers may have been just what the doctor ordered for the Okie City Thunder who chose their words carefully in the couple of days leading up to Game 1 after that World Peace elbow-to-the-head of Sixth Man award winner James Harden last month but the $64,000 question is can Scotty Brooks' crew play on that same emotional level here in Game 2?
Keep in mind that the one-two punch of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook teamed up for 52 points, 15 rebounds and 13 assists - and everyone on the Thunder is quick to remind you that OKC committed just four turnovers in Game 1 after averaging a league-worst 16.4 turnovers a game this 2011-12 season - but now the Lakers have had close to 48 hours to lick their wounds and get emotionally stirred up here.
One major key: Lakers F Pau Gasol - who's basically floated in and out of the clouds this post-season - must show up after sporting a deadly-quiet 10-point, 7-rebound game in 30 minutes of play and for LAL to "get even" here than Gasol needs one of those 20-point, 14-board type games ... or this series could start smelling like a short-and-sweet one for the Thunder.
Here's how the Lakers-Thunder Western Conference Semifinal Series has gone so far (note all home teams are in CAPS):
|5-14||OKLAHOMA CITY||- 8||LA Lakers||OKLAHOMA CITY 119-90|
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