Knicks 102-95 to take a 1-0 edge in the best of 7, taking away New York’s home court advantage in the process. Memphis nearly pulled an upset at Oklahoma City but the Thunder needed a huge fourth quarter to eke out a 93-91 non-covering victory to take a 1-0 lead in that series.
Here’s a look at each of the four series.
Heat vs. Bulls: Chicago is to be commended, but its season is likely to end in no more than 6 and most likely 5 games. Miami was focused in sweeping Milwaukee and seems intent on taking no chances on its way to a successful defense of its title. Still, the Bulls were the team that ended Miami’s 27 game winning streak in late March.
The teams split four games in the regular season. Miami was favored by about a dozen points in Monday’s first game and will be favored by a similar price in Wednesday’s Game 2. The Bulls remain a solid defensive team and getting double digits if down 0-1 on Wednesday would be an attractive take.
Miami would be playable at -6 or less in Games 3 and 4 in Chicago while the Bulls would be playable at +8 or more unless they are in position to tie or take the lead. In that case Miami would be the play at less than double digits.
Knicks vs. Pacers: NY’s Carmelo Anthony continues to shoot poorly and teammate J R Smith has fared little better. The Knicks are favored by 6 in Game 2 and worth backing as a loss here puts them in grave danger of losing the series.
This was a homer series in the regular season with the Knicks winning and covering both The preliminaries that were the first round of the NBA Playoffs have concluded with eight in the Conference semifinals.
Things were almost true to form in the East where the top three seeds – Miami, New York and Indiana – all advanced. The lone upset was minor as No. 5 Chicago defeated Brooklyn in seven.
A couple of upsets occurred in the West. No. 6 Golden State needed just six to knock off 3-seed Denver. No. 5 Memphis defeated 4-seed Los Angeles Clippers, also in six after dropping the first two in LA and then winning the next four.
Top seeded Oklahoma City got a scare before getting by Houston in six. Of course the most significant development in that series has been the loss of OKC’s Russell Westbrook for the remainder of the playoffs.
Second seeded San Antonio swept No. 7 LA Lakers and will have been idle for more than a week before hosting Golden State. The Miami series with Chicago already began with Miami having had more than a week’s rest following a four-game sweep of Milwaukee.
The Warriors will have had some benefit of rest as they clinched their series against Denver last Thursday. More interesting is how Chicago will fare against the Heat. The Bulls needed a full seven to advance and did so barely 48 hours earlier, winning in Brooklyn on Saturday night. And the Bulls enter the series with a bunch of injured or ill players against the team favored to win the NBA Title.
The second round began Sunday with one upset and one near upset. Indiana controlled most of its game against New York and upset the games at the Garden before Sunday’s loss. Indiana will be playable at home laying 4 or less. In winning their opening round series against Atlanta, the Pacers won all 3 home games by 17, 15 and 23 points.
The Knicks would have to be getting at least 6 to be playable, especially in Game 4 unless down 0-3 and facing elimination. In that scenario Indiana would be playable up to -7 to close out the series. More likely it goes at least 6. This is the series that appears most likely to follow the traditional “zig-zag” pattern in which the straight up loser of one game becomes the point spread play the next.
Thunder vs. Grizzlies: The Westbrook injury may have prevented Oklahoma City from sweeping Houston, but did prevail in 6. They were vulnerable in their Game 1 come from behind win over Memphis, a much greater defensive challenge than the Rockets.
The winner between Memphis and the LA Clippers stood an excellent chance of making it to the NBA Finals. The fact that OKC was favored by just 3½ points in Game 1 and just 2½ points in Game 2 shows the respect the lines makers have for the underdog.
Still, Oklahoma City is worth backing at home in Game 2 with Memphis being playable if favored by 3 or less in both Games 3 and 4 back home. The series shapes up as the most likely to go the full 7.
Spurs vs Warriors: Golden State overcame the early series loss of David Lee to oust Denver. Lee made a token appearance in the Game 6 clincher but his availability and effectiveness against the Spurs remains in doubt. The Spurs got little resistance in their 4-game sweep of the Lakers, but the feisty Warriors show no fear.
These teams split their four regular season games, each winning twice at home with the Warriors covering the spread three times. Golden State is physical and that could wear down the aging Spurs although the absence of games on back to back nights mitigates whatever slight edge that might give Golden State.
Of course, there’s no substitute for experience and in that regard San Antonio enjoys a huge edge. The Spurs should advance in likely 6 games but the Warriors should win the ATS battles. The Spurs were favored by 9 in Monday’s opening game and are favored by 8 or more in Wednesday’s Game 2.
If San Antonio is up 1-0, then Golden State is a solid play. Golden State would also be playable as underdogs back home in both Games 3 and 4 regardless of the status of the series. However, if down 1-2 entering Game 4 the Warriors may be played if favored by no more than 3 points.
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]