Submitted by Jim Hurley on Sunday, May 13, 2012 at 11:06 PM
With no time to recover, the tired and drained Los Angeles Lakers jump into second round action Monday Night in Oklahoma City less than 48 hours after finishing off round one with a dramatic Game Seven victory over the Denver Nuggets. Before that game even starts, Philadelphia and Boston will have finished their second meeting…as wall-to-wall playoff basketball continues at a frantic pace!
We start this edition of the NOTEBOOK with a preview of the Thunder-Lakers series…then we outline bounce back possibilities tonight for the 76ers based on the key numbers from Saturday Night’s Game One boxscore…
OKLAHOMA CITY (2) VS LA LAKERS (3)
Game One: Monday at 9:35 p.m. ET
Series Price: Oklahoma City -450, Los Angeles +375
Game One Line: Oklahoma City by 7, total of 192.5
Oklahoma city opened at a lower price to win the series, but money came in on them hard since they were so well-rested, and since the Lakers don’t have the look of a team that’s going to match up well against youth and energy. Los Angeles did survive Denver…a team that has OKC’s energy without their talent. But, if Denver had home court in that series, the Lakers could very well be done for the year. Oklahoma City is better than Denver, AND has home court in this series. That has market investors expecting some loud THUNDER in this particular matchup. Maybe if OKC was exhausted, and the Lakers fresh as a daisy, there would have been more interest in the Lakers.
The Game One line opened at OKC -6.5 and was bet up right away as well. Some places are showing Thunder -7.5 as we write this rather than -7. That’s getting pretty high considering the quality of the dog. Just remember that the Lakers lost twice in Denver by double digits, though Metta World Peace didn’t play in those games.
LA Lakers (10 on offense, 13 on defense, 2 in rebound rate)
Oklahoma City (2 on offense, 9 on defense, 5 in rebound rate)
Oklahoma City is better on offense and defense, and not far behind in rebounding. You regulars know we place more weight ourselves on defense and rebounding…which is much closer to a wash here. What’s most important to us is that the Lakers defensive strength (height and length in the paint) lines up very well with OKC’s offensive strength (attacking the basket with aggression). The best way to beat the Lakers is to shoot over them or to beat them down court. Denver showed that you just can’t keep flying at the basket because your shots will hit you on the face on the way down. OKC got a taste of that themselves the last time they visited the Lakers in the regular season. So, there IS hope for the Lakers in this series if they’re able to get their legs back.
Also helping out the Lakers:
*Metta World Peace is fresh, and is playing with a chip on his shoulder after missing most of the first round. That may turn out NOT to be a positive because he’s so unpredictable. But, his defensive energy was a huge key this past Saturday Night on steals and switches. The team may be tired, but their best defender isn’t.
*Kobe Bryant is starting to show that he will pass out of double-teams instead of forcing up bad shots. That was a big key this past Saturday too. Kobe cut about 8-10 shots off his volume, and almost all of those turned into open looks for somebody else. Teammates shot much better on the open looks than Kobe does when he’s shooting through double teams. One of the big anvils holding the Lakers back vs. top competition disappears if Kobe shares the ball more.
*The pressure to take care of business as a favorite is gone…and now the team can play a bit looser as a big series underdog. It’s a lot more fun to play that way, and you may see more positive energy from the team (and the head coach) instead of the nervous energy that ruled too much of the sidelines in the last round. The Lakers don’t often find themselves in this kind of situation. And, they’re opponent hasn’t ever been this big a series favorite over somebody with this many stars.
Hurting the Lakers:
*You still can’t trust Andrew Bynum to play more than 3-4 good games in a stretch like this. He disappears on defense too often…pouts on offense if he isn’t getting his touches…and gets frustrated when opposing defenses double him outside his comfort zone. He’s not ready yet to be the star he already thinks he is.
*Pau Gasol is similar in that he can’t bring peak contributions very often. He doesn’t have the down side in terms of pouting and selfishness that Bynum has. But he’s not a game changer as often as he needs to be either. If Gasol and Bynum could play to their “on paper” levels on command, this series price wouldn’t be as high as it is.
*The short rotation this team has coming off an up-tempo series could have an enduring effect. The Lakers start the series off tired, then will be dealing with a back-to-back later in the week because the West has to catch up with the East. Oklahoma City will not get tired! Russell Westbrook is a fitness machine anyway…he’ll seem even faster than usual this week and next.
JIM HURLEY won’t dispute that Vegas has the right team favored. The key to picking winners will be finding dog spots where the line is too high, and favorite spots with OKC in games where the Lakers are just too tired to compete for 48 full minutes. In a few games, more intangibles will come into play depending on who gets frustrated. The Lakers imploded last year when they fell behind Dallas. Oklahoma City had their own issues with patience and maturity when they fell to the same opponent one round later.
BOSTON vs. PHILADELPHIA
Game Two Vegas Line: Boston by 4.5, total of 173.5
Boston leads 1-0
The line has come down a tick because so many people bet the Game One loser in Game Two, and because Game One was a coin flip anyway! Some might argue the line should be even lower considering how well Philadelphia played most of the night…and the traditional bounce back tendencies in rounds featuring evenly matched teams.
The total is up three points or so because the first game was a double digit Over even though neither team shot particularly well. Vegas has once again made its annual mistake of assuming defensive minded teams will bring peak intensity to the early action in a series. Just because these guys played in the 160’s late in the first round doesn’t mean it will happen early in the next round when defenses relax.
GAME ONE SUMMARY
BOSTON 92, PHILADELPHIA 91
Field Goal Pct: Philadelphia 44%, Boston 44%
Three-Pointers: Philadelphia 5/14, Boston 2/18
Free Throws: Philadelphia 14/20, Boston 18/19
Rebounds: Philadelphia 41, Boston 45
Turnovers: Philadelphia 11, Boston 13
Vegas Line: Boston by 5, total of 170
Philadelphia did play well enough to win here…but a lot of that was because Boston was a horrible 2 of 18 on three-pointers. The Sixers night becomes less impressive when you adjust for that. They lost free throws and rebounding, and won treys by nine points in a game they lost by one. What’s going to happen in the games where three-point shooting breaks even? Philly’s going to be in big trouble unless they go back to winning the free throw battle like they did in five of six games vs. the Bulls in the first round.
Boston keeps winning (5-2 in the playoffs), but they sure aren’t playing anywhere near their second half surge. Paul Pierce is still favoring his knee, and has a tough matchup with Andre Igoudala even in the best of times. Ray Allen is moving better than he had been, but isn’t back to full speed yet. If Boston is going to try and grind through this series, using their clutch experience as a tie-breaker…then we may be looking at mostly underdog covers. Dogs are now 5-2 in Boston’s playoff games.
JIM HURLEY has a special MONDAY NIGHT PARLAY on tap that will be posted in the early afternoon here at this website. It’s a busy night in the baseball too. Among the matchups we’re looking at closely are:
NY Yankees at Baltimore
Detroit at Chicago White Sox
Chicago Cubs at St. Louis (on ESPN)
Cincinnati at Atlanta
Arizona at LA Dodgers
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