Submitted by Jim Hurley on Sunday, May 6, 2012 at 10:32 PM
Only two games on the Monday Night card, as the previously scheduled Dallas-Oklahoma City game proved superfluous when the Thunder finished off that series Saturday. The San Antonio Spurs will try to wrap up their series with the Utah Jazz tonight, joining Oklahoma City in the sauna for some extended rest this week. The LA Clippers and Memphis Grizzlies know they’ll play at least two more games…and maybe FOUR more because these evenly matched squads are giving every indication that this best-of-seven could go the distance.
Let’s run the numbers for tonight’s TNT twinbill. Games are presented in schedule order.
SAN ANTONIO vs. UTAH
Game Four Vegas Line: San Antonio by 8, total of 198.5
San Antonio leads 3-0
This hasn’t been much of a series. And, there’s not any evidence that it’s going to become one. San Antonio has significantly outclassed the Jazz so far. Tony Parker is the only guy who’s broken a sweat! Parker has been attacking the softest spots of the Jazz defense, while about nine other guys take their turns as role players through relatively relaxing minutes. Manu Ginobili could have taken the series off to this point. As we saw in Miami-New York, Vegas has lifted the line up to -8 from about -5 in Game Three. That still doesn’t match the flow of the series, with San Antonio winning by 15 and 27 at home, then 12 on the road.
GAME THREE SUMMARY
SAN ANTONIO 102, UTAH 90
Field Goal Pct: San Antonio 49%, Utah 40%
Three-Pointers: San Antonio 7/20, Utah 4/13
Free Throws: San Antonio 17/22, Utah 14/26
Rebounds: San Antonio 41, Utah 49
Turnovers: San Antonio 11, Utah 9
Vegas Line: San Antonio by 5.5, total of 200
Note that San Antonio coasted to an easy win without posting great stats. Good stats, sure. But, not anything that’s in danger of regressing to the mean. Three-pointers were just kind of there. The Spurs shot fewer free throws and grabbed fewer rebounds. They were just the much better team at the basic fundamentals of running an offense on one side of the floor, and playing sound defense on the other side.
JIM HURLEY will only get involved at this line if he hears something from his on site sources. Maybe the Spurs come out a bit flat…making this too tall a line as a road favorite. Maybe Utah throws in the towel in the first five minutes and we see a replay of Game Two where the Spurs led by a million the whole way. A game like this isn’t up to stats, or trends, or systems. It’s up to the motivation of the players. If you see that NETWORK has a play here, it’s because our sources found something good.
LA CLIPPERS vs. MEMPHIS
Game Four Vegas Line: Clippers by 2, total of 182
Los Angeles leads 2-1
The line has dropped from Clippers -3 on Saturday. That’s from the general tendency for bettors to take the loser of the previous game in a tight series. Also, Memphis actually covered that +3 even though they lost. Truly an amazing series to this point, where either team could be up 3-0 straight up, and either team could have covered all three games. There have been some unbelievable extremes…from Memphis hitting 9 of their first 11 treys in the series, to the Clippers shooting only 13 of 30 from the free throw line Saturday in a game they won!
How can you predict a series that’s so out-of-control?!
Let’s see if a more complete look at Saturday’s numbers provides any clues…
GAME THREE SUMMARY
LA CLIPPERS 87, MEMPHIS 86
Field Goal Pct: Memphis 40%, Clippers 47%
Three-Pointers: Memphis 4/13, Clippers 8/17
Free Throws: Memphis 30/39, Clippers 13/30
Rebounds: Memphis 40, Clippers 35
Turnovers: Memphis 17, Clippers 17
Vegas Line: LA Clippers by 3, total of 184
Tough call. The Clippers have shot well inside the arc in this series, but that’s because they get so many dunks where everyone just gets out of way to avoid the shrapnel. They make a lot of turnovers to get those dunks…so Memphis isn’t afraid to gamble for a steal and live with the occasional Blake Griffin highlight auditions. You may remember that TV pundits said that the Memphis ability to force turnovers would be negated by Chris Paul. Well, Memphis has forced 17, 20, and 17 turnovers so far…which is outstanding defense.
Chris Paul is doing a lot of things at a very high level though. It’s just that you have to go high-risk/high-reward to get anything done in this series. That’s true for both teams. And, that’s why everything has been so erratic. We expect the craziness to continue at least through this fourth game. All series have a tendency to calm down and settle into a pattern in the latter stages. We’re nowhere near settling yet based on the fourth quarter Saturday.
Where’s the value at this Vegas line? JIM HURLEY has a fairly strong opinion in this game. That’s all we’re going to say!
OKLAHOMA CITY BEATS DALLAS 4-0
We would have been previewing/reviewing this series if it hadn’t been a sweep for the Thunder. We have a little room today to at least provide a summary you can use going forward in the next round. Oklahoma City will play the winner of Los Angeles Lakers/Denver once that series comes to an end.
*James Harden is the key player for OKC when the game is on the line. Everyone knows to try and stop Durant. Everyone knows to keep Russell Westbrook from flying at the basket. Do you have a THIRD defensive option for also dealing with Harden? Dallas didn’t, which is how OKC managed to close out three tight finishes in their four game sweep.
*Kevin Durant is a stud to be sure, but he’s showing signs of impatience when his shot isn’t falling. The best way to beat Oklahoma City is to get in the heads of Durant and Westbrook. This hasn’t changed from last year.
*Oklahoma City had disappointing numbers the deeper you dug into the Dallas boxscores. Most sweeps are one-sided squashes where the superior team owned most of the stat categories. That wasn’t the case here. Oklahoma City didn’t impress considering they were facing a #7 seed in anything but closing out wins thanks to Harden. This wasn’t a “defense and rebounding wins championships” kind of series in other words. You know that’s something that matters to us if you’ve been a longtime reader of the NOTEBOOK.
Yes, it was a sweep…and the team will likely benefit from an extended rest break. They won’t be a well-rested juggernaut in the next round. They’ll be a well-rested team that has a few things they need to work on if they’re going to be part of the championship discussion with the likes of Miami and San Antonio.
Monday’s selections can be purchased here at the website with your credit card. Or, call the office to sign up at 1-800-323-4453. Don’t forget that we have BASEBALL WINNERS every day as well. Series of interest in the bases that start Monday or Tuesday include:
Texas at Baltimore
Tampa Bay at New York Yankees
San Francisco at Los Angeles Dodgers
Who would have thought an early May series matching Texas and Baltimore would have been so important?! Given Boston’s inconsistency, and horrible injury news for the Yankees, the Orioles may have actually become a legitimate threat in the AL East.
That wraps up Monday’s previews. Back with you Tuesday to crunch the numbers in:
Orlando at Indiana on the NBA Network
Boston at Atlanta on TNT
Philadelphia at Chicago on the NBA Network
Denver at the LA Lakers on TNT
Yes a GRAND SLAM on a TUESDAY! That will be the biggest weeknight of the whole 2012 NBA postseason barring a few surprises. That makes Tuesday’s NOTEBOOK a can’t miss report. We’re appreciative that so many of you do-it-yourselfers are checking in daily before making your final picks. If you want some guidance finding the best plays on the board…WORLD CHAMPION HANDICAPPER JIM HURLEY is the man to call!