All four of the second round NBA Playoff series became best of five as each was tied at 1-1 heading to last weekend.
Indiana, led by All Star center Roy Hibbard, and Memphis were up 2-1 on New York and Oklahoma City respectively.
Miami takes a 2-1 lead into Tuesday’s Game 4 on the road in Chicago. The remaining series between Golden State and San Antonio has become a best of three after Golden State won Sunday’s home game against the Spurs to tie San Antonio at 2-2. The Spurs host the Warriors on Tuesday for Game 5.
Here are some thoughts on how these series may play out over the balance of this week.
Miami vs. Chicago: The Bulls have shown great heart in playing through all of the injuries that continue to plague them. The defense remains a strength, but they should continue to struggle against Miami’s depth. Miami is favored to be ahead 3-1 when the series returns to Miami for Game 5 on Wednesday.
We saw what Miami is capable of in Game 2 when avenging an opening game loss to the Bulls with a resounding 115-78 win. After getting the late cover in a 10 point win in Game 3, the Heat are poised to end this series in likely five and at most six games.
Miami would be the play back home in Game 5 whether it is an elimination game for Chicago or not. If there is a Game 6 in Chicago the Bulls would be the play at +7 or more in a game in which they likely lose straight up but go out giving a great effort. In the unlikelihood of a Game 7, the play would be the UNDER.
New York vs. Indiana: This series has followed the zig zag pattern with the teams trading wins and covers through the first three. The Pacers are five point favorites to take a 3-1 series lead. This series has the makings of going at least 6 and the Knicks are worth playing at +5 or more to even the series at 2-2 returning to New York.
Game 5 becomes critical and the guidelines for the balance of the series might best be to consider laying 3 points or less with the home favorite or taking +5 or more with the underdog. The latter scenario is more likely to occur than the former. The UNDER is also the preferred way to play the Total. Prior to Tuesday’s Game 4, four of their seven meetings this season stayed UNDER by more than 20 points.
OKC vs. Memphis: The Grizzles could easily be up 3-0 after squandering a big lead in losing the opener. Yet each of these matchups has come down to the final few minutes, including Saturday’s Game 3 that was tied at 81 before Memphis scored the final 6 points.
The absence of Russell Westbrook has all but erased any talent gap edge that the Thunder may have enjoyed over Memphis. Oklahoma City is weaker than the team that made the NBA Finals last season when the additional loss in the offseason of James Harden is considered. Kevin Martin has arguably not been a net plus.
Still, OKC remains a formidable foe although the pick here at the start of the playoffs was for the winner of the opening series between Memphis and the LA Clippers to represent the West in the Finals. Memphis is still the call to win this series with 6 games being the most likely scenario.
OKC will be the play back home in Game 5 whether facing elimination or are tied at 2-2. Memphis would be the play at home in Game 6 in what would be an elimination contest for one of the teams. Should there be a Game 7 Memphis would be the play if getting at least three points.
San Antonio vs. Golden St.: The Spurs are favored by seven in the key Game 5 that will put either team in an elimination situation at Golden State on Thursday. The Warriors have covered 12 of 13 dating back to late in the regular season with the lone ATS loss coming last Friday in Game 3.
After going 4-0 both SU and ATS in sweeping the Lakers, San Antonio has covered just once in this series which has been very competitive. Two of the first four games needed overtime including double OT in Game 1. Golden State is not intimidated by the Spurs and ended a lengthy winless drought in San Antonio with a Game 2 win.
The call is for San Antonio to ultimately prevail as postseason pedigree cannot be ignored. The Warriors should do no worse than break even ATS over the balance of the series, making for an attractive take in Game 5 and as a small -3 or less favorite in a Game 6. If there is a Game 7 the Warriors would be the play at +8 or more while the Spurs would be playable at -5 or less.
In all likelihood, the line for Game 7 will be in the middle of these limits. The UNDER is the preferred Totals play for the duration of this series. This season 6 of the 8 meetings have stayed UNDER, including two of the three that went into overtime.
Andy Iskoe, and his Logical Approach, provides his popular and unique handicapping statistics to Gaming Today readers and online visitors. He has been a long time GT columnist, contributing weekly in-season columns on baseball, pro basketball and pro football. Contact Andy at [email protected]