NBA Playoffs: Week 1 in Review
by Lenny Del Genio
Today is Monday May 7th, 2012 and we are more than one full week into the NBA postseason. Only one series has concluded thus far with the team most have winning the Western Conference (Oklahoma City) sweeping the defending World Champion Dallas Mavericks. That four-game sweep gives Dallas the dubious honor of being just the FOURTH NBA champ to not win a single playoff game the following year. The last to do this was the 2007 Miami Heat, who was swept by the Chicago Bulls. There are also two “other teams” from the days of yore that failed to even make the playoffs as the previous year’s champ, something that is unlikely to ever occur in the current NBA climate, save for a major injury.
There is a (likely) chance that we will see one more first round sweep as the top seed in the West, San Antonio, currently owns a 3-0 series edge against overmatched Utah with Game Four being played tonight. As of press, the Spurs have won 13 consecutive games straight up (13-0 ATS for most), scoring 100 or more points in every game.
You can certainly bet that commissioner David Stern and the powers that be are rooting for Oklahoma City and San Antonio to each be matched up with a team from Los Angeles in the second round, something that certainly seems likely in the Thunder’s case. After leading for a full 48 minutes in both Games 1 and 2 against the Nuggets, the Lakers earned a split in Denver giving them a decisive series edge. For the record, OKC took two of three during the regular season from LA, including the only meeting at home.
The Clippers have a chance to match their “landlords” and take a 3-1 series lead over Memphis with a win Monday. This series made headlines right off the bat with LA overcoming a 27-point fourth quarter deficit in Game 1 and then a historically bad 13 of 30 performance from the free throw line in Game 3 to win both contests. One would surmise that if they were ever able to put together a full 48 minutes of quality play, then this is the Clippers series to lose.
Over in the Eastern Conference, one team missed out on its chance for a four-game sweep, that being the Miami Heat as LeBron James again failed to take (let alone make) a potential GW shot against the Knicks Sunday afternoon. Still though, New York’s Game 4 win felt more like a case of “delaying the inevitable” as the Heat surely will advance, likely to matchup with Indiana, who after a stunning Game 1 loss to Orlando have taken control of their series with three consecutive victories.
Boston, like the Pacers, has also won three straight after losing Game One of its series. The Celtics will also be one of four teams looking to close out a series on Tuesday as it’s a case of “same old Hawks” with Atlanta throwing away a golden opportunity in Game 2 (when Boston was without suspended PG Rajon Rondo) and getting blown out in Boston in Game 4. The Hawks have now lost at least one playoff game by 20 or more points seven of the last eight years.
However, the biggest storyline for basketball bettors in Round One has occurred in the Bulls-Sixers series where the East’s #1 team lost last year’s MVP Derrick Rose for the rest of the year to injury. This has opened the door for three straight Philly wins (and covers) and with a win Tuesday, they can become just the fifth 8-seed in history to advance to the second round. The last was of course Memphis last year. Interestingly, the last time we had a lockout shortened season (1999), we had an 8-seed (Knicks) upset a top seed (Heat).
Things certainly seem to have opened up in the East for Miami with Boston seemingly the only roadblock on a return path to the NBA Finals. The Heat took three of four from the Pacers in the regular season, but the Celtics were a different story as they lost three of four to Boston, going 0-4 ATS.
Every series with four games in the books has seen at least one Over and Under and none of those series has seen any team fail to cover at least one game. All three games in the Spurs-Jazz series have gone Under so far and the Spurs are 3-0 ATS. As a result, Under bettors now own an 18-12 advantage through the first 30 playoff games and favorites are 16-14 ATS (Note: we’re calling Memphis’ Game 2 win a cover).
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