Wednesday's Playoff Tripleheader

STAT PREVIEWS FOR WEDNESDAY'S NBA PLAYOFF TRIPLEHEADER

We've had an odd mix so far through the playoffs of blowouts and thrillers, with a few of the games that look like they're going to be blowouts midway through turning into surprising thrillers! The greatest example of that was Clippers/Grizzlies back on Sunday Night. Those teams finally play Game Two of their series here on Wednesday. That series along with Jazz/Spurs will official bring the seconds games to a close. We already have our first Game Three this evening when Indiana visits Orlando in hopes of regaining home court advantage.

Let's crunch some numbers! As always, games are presented in schedule order...

SAN ANTONIO vs. UTAH
Game Two Vegas Line: San Antonio by 11.5, total of 204
San Antonio leads 1-0

The market hasn't been adjusting much to the classic handicapping approach of betting big dogs in Game Two if they lost Game One. This line actually went up from -11 in the opener to -11.5 here. San Antonio has been the best team in the NBA since the All-Star Break. Utah barely got into the playoffs, then lost the series opener by 15 points. Hard to pull the trigger on the Jazz given all that. But, history shows that big favorites can get complacent when everything seems so easy. Keep that in mind. The total has dropped two points from 206 to 204 given the 197 finish in Game One.

GAME ONE SUMMARY - SAN ANTONIO 106, UTAH 91
Field Goal Pct: Utah 42%, San Antonio 48%
Three-Pointers: Utah 4/13, San Antonio 6/17
Free Throws: Utah 23/30, San Antonio 20/28
Rebounds: Utah 45, San Antonio 39
Turnovers: Utah 16, San Antonio 10
Vegas Line: San Antonio by 11, total of 206

A classic case of being better in almost everything. Utah did win rebounding because the only area of strength for the Jazz is their frontline. But, they couldn't turn that into anything meaningful beyond the rebounding stat. Shooting percentages favored San Antonio by a good bit. The Spurs picked up six extra points from long range and six extra possessions in the turnover category. Utah needs the Spurs to play flat for this to be a series. Maybe Utah can steal a game at home. Stealing one on the road is going to take the stars aligning just right.

What about covering this very high spread? That's obviously a lot more manageable. History does smile on decent dogs in this kind of spot. That's been less true in recent years because league powers have been focused on getting early series over with so they can rest. Still, the Jazz can get the money cleanly or through the backdoor in garbage time. Classic handicapping approaches point to the Jazz, so it would take a lot of information from our on site sources to trump that.

 

INDIANA vs. ORLANDO
Game Three Vegas Line: Indiana by 3, total of 183.5
Series Tied 1-1

Our first Game Three of the postseason. Indiana has moved from -9.5 to -3 or -3.5 in the site switch. That's consistent with an assessment that home court advantage is worth three points (meaning a six point adjustment for a site switch). Inferior seeds have been getting less and less respect in recent years (deservedly so). Even with a road win in Game One, Orlando didn't do enough to impress oddsmakers about their chances to stay competitive in this series.

GAME TWO SUMMARY - INDIANA 93, ORLANDO 78
Field Goal Pct: Orlando 36%, Indiana 43%
Three-Pointers: Orlando 8/25, Indiana 2/20
Free Throws: Orlando 16/19, Indiana 25/28
Rebounds: Orlando 38, Indiana 46
Turnovers: Orlando 16, Indiana 11
Vegas Line: Indiana by 9.5, total of 188

What's striking about this boxscore is how similar Orlando's numbers were from their first game. They basically played two lousy road games, but managed to win one because Indiana played so awful in the series opener. Orlando can't do much of anything beyond hoping three's go in. They managed to make eight of them here yet still score only 78 points. The Magic just aren't a playoff caliber team right now. They played under .500 ball after the All-Star Break, and are arguably the 16th ranked team in the playoffs regardless of what the seedings say. Plus, they would be series underdogs to the Phoenix and Houston teams who missed the playoffs, and possibly Milwaukee too.

The numbers in the series suggest Indiana is going to win at least one game in Orlando by a decent-sized margin. Smart handicappers have to figure out the best way to invest in that likelihood.

 

MEMPHIS vs. LA CLIPPERS
Game Two Vegas Line: Memphis by 6, total of 185
LA Clippers lead 1-0

Memphis has moved up a tick from the closer of 5.5 in the first game. Just remember that oddsmakers only had it at 3.5 for their Game One opener. That seemed crazy through three quarters, but turned out to be fairly accurate after the Clippers made that historic rally. JIM HURLEY will be working closely with his onsite sources to gauge the Memphis mindset. If the team is still in a daze, the Clippers could catch them flat footed out of the gate tonight. But, if everyone's back on the same page, we could see a replay of Indiana-Orlando where the host who was stunned in the opener came back to win by 15 points.

GAME ONE SUMMARY - LA CLIPPERS 99, MEMPHIS 98
Field Goal Pct: Clippers 50%, Memphis 45%
Three-Pointers: Clippers 6/18, Memphis 11/16
Free Throws: Clippers 17/23, Memphis 11/18
Rebounds: Clippers 47, Memphis 41
Turnovers: Clippers 17, Memphis 12
Vegas Line: Memphis by 5.5, total of 184

It's important to note here that Memphis jumped to a big lead because they were shooting lights out from behind the arc. They were 9 of their first 11, which should be impossible. The lead wasn't based on roster superiority, just a short term hot streak. When the team cooled off and relaxed on defense with a big lead, the advantage evaporated in a finger snap. Memphis needs to do more inside tonight in terms of scoring and earning free throws if they want to win big. It's great to hear so many TV announcers saying treys are fool's gold. That's always been true in the playoffs. Handicappers must make picks with that in mind.

Playoff handicapping is always a mix of stats, history, and information. The three games tonight provide an example of why you have to be flexible when making decisions and investing your money. On-site information may mean almost everything in one game, but virtually nothing in another. You can't be a slave to history even while you're respecting it. Tricky night!

The fact that JIM HURLEY has created NETWORK'S exclusive TEAM HANDICAPPING approach combined with almost 25 YEARS MASTERING IT makes it very clear who you should call for guidance this week, this month, and all through the 2012 playoffs. We know when to take the points, when to lay the points, when to lay low on the team side and hit the total, and when to pass a game entirely because the edges just aren't there. You can see that for yourself by purchasing Wednesday's plays here at the website with your credit card. If you have any questions, call our office at 1-800-323-4453.

Be sure to ask about Triple Crown horse racing and Major League Baseball when you call. The Kentucky Derby is THIS Saturday, and NETWORK once again has a can't-beat offer for the greatest day in racing.

That wraps up Wednesday's previews. Back with you Thursday to preview this TNT Twinbill:

Miami at New York
Oklahoma City at Dallas

Yes, only two games Thursday...but two big ones as New York and Dallas face must-win situations. New York's fans sure didn't expect a combined 43-point loss in the first two games of the Miami series. Dallas has to feel like they deserved at least a split on the road after leading both games at OKC in the final minute. Big games...big night...BIG MONEY...from THE BIGGEST NAME IN HANDICAPPING, JIM HURLEY!

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