Blowoutsdo backfire

May 1, 2007 6:12 AM

The NBA playoffs mean the better teams are battling each other. This differs from the regular season when many nights great teams are playing bad teams and bad teams are playing worse teams!

Astute sports bettors should pay very careful attention to blowouts.

Think back one year ago to the first round of the playoffs. The Pistons had a 2-0 series lead on the Bucks and were a 6-point favorite in Game 3 at Milwaukee. The Bucks flattened the Pistons in an upset, 124-104.

A tide turning win or just one team having a good day? The Pistons won and covered by double digits the next two games to close out the series. The final game was a 29-point rout.

Overall, blowout games are less expected this time of the year. Oddsmakers are anticipating that the majority of teams want to be here and will play all out for 48 minutes keeping things relatively close. The Nets/Raptors series was a good example, with Toronto a 4 and 5 point favorite the first two games last week. Both were close.

Teams that have some talent or star players are more likely to make the playoffs. This makes closer, more competitive games likely as the playoffs move along. Still, one-sided games can happen for a variety of reasons. A year ago the defending champion Spurs trashed the Kings in Game 1, 122-88. The stats on the game were frightening, with San Antonio shooting 57 percent and holding the Kings to 39 and won the battle of the boards 51-32.

The blowout, combined with the suspension of Ron Artest, helped push the betting line from 8 to 12 for the next game. However, a funny thing happened in Game 2 — the Kings showed up with a vengeance. Sacramento took the Spurs to overtime before a wild 128-119 loss, though the angry dog still covered. Public perception can be such that many were thinking the Spurs were going to destroy the Kings even worse in Game 2. However, the veteran Kings were embarrassed and angry. A very different team showed up motivated by the Game 1 blowout loss.

Bottom line: Don’t easily dismiss teams that get blown out. If they have talent, are well coached or have strong leadership, they can bounce back and look like a very different team the next game. Another factor to consider is defense. Many teams that make the postseason know how to play D. In a blowout loss, perhaps a team simply had a bad defensive game or the opponent was doing something that made adjustments difficult.

Adjustments are made after watching game films, which is why teams can look very different in the next game.

Even regular season games can have an effect. On opening night, the defending champion Heat were hosting the Bulls and were demolished 108-66 by Chicago. So much for "championship banner and ring night"! The Heat didn’t forget. Last month the rematch took place in Miami and Chicago was thrashed, 103-70.

Said his Shaq-ness after the game, "We knew we owed this team." He wasn’t referring to pocket change. "Our guys took it to heart," added Pat Riley.

The playoffs only increase competitive fire and passion with teams facing each other repeatedly, making adjustments and revenge spots even more acute. You may recall the NBA Finals a year ago, when two blowouts were followed by close nail-biters in which the dog covered. Dallas won Game 2, 99-85, but the next game Miami won by a basket. In Game 4, the Heat rolled by 24, only to see Game 5 go into OT and decided by one point.

This is nothing new, either. Two years ago in the Finals, the Pistons destroyed the Spurs 102-71 in Game 4. The next game, the Spurs were a +3½ dog, yet got their revenge in a 96-95 straight up win. Remember when the playoffs opened two years ago, the Celtics danced all over the Pacers in a 102-82 Game 1 rout.

Boston players made foolish comments about how they were already thinking about advancing to the next round! In Game 2, a very different Indiana team showed up in an 82-79 win as a road underdog. Every dog can have his day in the NBA playoffs, and one-sided blowouts can be very different the next encounter.