NBA favorites rolling in opening round of playoffs

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Through Sunday a total of 30 Playoff games had been played and overall there have been some truly surprising – and lopsided – results.

Two of the eight first round series resulted in sweeps. Defending Eastern Conference champion and top seed Cleveland eliminated playoff inexperienced Detroit in four games. The Western Conference second seed, San Antonio, easily dispatched of undermanned Memphis in a similar four game sweep.

Two of the remaining six series are tied at 2-2 although they got there differently. Indiana and Toronto first split the first two games in Toronto and then did the same in Indiana. The series between Atlanta and Boston saw the home team win all four games.

Oklahoma City won three of the first four games of their series against Dallas and had the chance to win the series at home Monday night.

Defending champion Golden State holds a similar 3-1 lead over Houston and will next play on Wednesday with a chance to advance to the Western Conference semi-finals.

Of course the storyline of that series, since the opening game of the series, has been the status of star Steph Curry. An injured ankle sidelined the reigning and likely to repeat MVP for both Games 2 and 3. Golden State lost Game 3 in Houston by a point. The Warriors rally from a 17 point deficit to lead by 1 before the Rockets’ James Harden hit the game winner with 2.7 seconds left.

Curry returned for Game 4 but suffered an injured knee at the end of the first half when he slipped on the court. The game was tied at 56 at the half and with Curry unable to play after recess his Warrior teammates shot lights out, resulting in a 27 point blowout win. Curry’s status for Wednesday’s Game 5 remains uncertain at press time although the reports are more pessimistic than optimistic.

Miami held a 2-1 lead over Charlotte heading into Monday night’s Game 4 at Charlotte. The LA Clippers also were in position to take a 3-1 lead later on Monday in Game 4 at Portland.

The surprising results involved the dominance of home teams, favored teams and with totals. Through Sunday home teams were 20-10 both straight up and against the spread.

With one game closing at pick ‘em, favorites were 19-10 ATS. Home favorites were 14-4 ATS and road favorites 5-6 ATS.

The Totals results have been eye popping with UNDERS outpacing OVERs by better than a 2:1 ratio. Of the first 30 playoff games, 21 have stayed UNDER and just 9 have gone OVER.

Playoff games have traditionally been lower scoring than regular season games but the linesmakers have long been aware of this and there have been appropriate adjustments made in the line.

 During this past regular season the average total line was 204.8. Thus far in the playoffs the average total line has been 201.3, a decrease of 3.5 points.

Both Cleveland and San Antonio will be well rested for their next series when the competition gets tougher. Cleveland awaits the winner of the Atlanta vs Boston series which will go at least 6 games.

San Antonio will face the winner of Oklahoma City vs Dallas which could have been decided on Monday night with OKC leading 3 games to 1 and hosting the Mavericks, favored by 14.5 points as of mid Monday morning.

In what is now a best of three series Game 5 will be played in Toronto on Tuesday and given those past difficulties this series could go the full seven games.

The Pacers are a tough, well coached team and it would not be a surprise if they win back home in Game 6 which will be an elimination game for one of the teams. If there is a Game 7 the Pacers are worth a look if getting at least 7 points.

Miami was impressive in winning the first two games of their series against Charlotte by 32 and 12 points at home. Charlotte led the Heat by 5 points at home in Game 3 but took control in the third quarter to win by 16. A win by Miami on Monday night would set up the strong possibility of a Miami series win back home in Game 5. But a Charlotte win would make this a best of three series.

 Miami is still forecast as the series winner and if the Heat did win Monday night look for the series to end in Game 5.

With the home team winning each of the first four games the Atlanta versus Boston series fits the profile of a series going the full seven games. Atlanta is the better team and their edge was made greater with the Game 1 injury to Boston’s Avery Bradley. The Hawks could have won either of the two games in Boston. The only blowout thus far was Atlanta’s 17 point win at home in Game 2.

The depth of Atlanta figures to be the deciding factor as the series goes deeper and the Hawks appear to be much more likely of winning the lone remaining road game in Boston than do the Celtics of winning either of the potential two games remaining in Atlanta.

Golden State should wrap up its series against Houston on Wednesday back home in Game 5, even if Curry does not play or sees limited action. The Warriors effort in the second half of Game 4 showed that the Golden State is more than just Curry.

Oklahoma City may have already won its series against Dallas. At the very worst, if forced to play a Game 6, look for a very focused effort from the Thunder who will not want to take the chance of losing a Game 7 as well as not wanting the Spurs to have too much added rest before their matchup.

Nothing is ever certain when the LA Clippers are in the conversation and by the time you are reading these words their series against Portland will either be tied at two games apiece or the Clippers will have taken a 3-1 by winning at Portland Monday night.

Even with a chance to clinch the series back home in Game 5 history has shown we should tread lightly where the Clippers are concerned. The Clippers are the much better team and should get by the Blazers.

Andy Iskoe, and his Logical Approach, provides his popular and unique handicapping statistics to GamingToday readers and online visitors. He has been a long time GT columnist, contributing weekly in-season columns on baseball, pro basketball and pro football. Email: [email protected]

About the Author

Andy Iskoe

Owner and author of “The Logical Approach,” Andy Iskoe has been a long time GT columnist, contributing weekly in-season columns on baseball, pro basketball and pro football.

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