Wednesday's NBA Previews

STAT PREVIEWS FOR WEDNESDAY NIGHT'S NBA PLAYOFF DOUBLEHEADER

They say that a playoff series doesn't truly begin until a road team wins a game. That means the Philadelphia/Boston series is officially underway with the Sixers scoring a Monday Night upset in Game two in Beantown. Game Three is TONIGHT in Philly, as the #8 seed in the East now finds itself in position to hold serve at home in this series and advance to the conference finals.

After Wild Wednesday opener, the Los Angeles Lakers will try to get up off the mat and give Oklahoma City a battle in Game Two of their Western Conference series. Of course...that series hasn't "started" yet since the home team won the first game in such a laugher. The whole series may be a laugher if the Lakers can't figure out how to guard Russell Westbrook.

Let's run the numbers from Monday's action to see what might be in store tonight. As always, games are presented in schedule order...

BOSTON vs. PHILADELPHIA
Game Three Vegas Line: Philadelphia by 2, total of 172.5
Series tied 1-1

The line has only moved 6.5 points I the site switch, which is fairly tight for a playoff series. Of course, this isn't much of a trip travel-wise. On the other hand, you could make the case that the line should be moving off "pick-em" instead of "Boston by 4.5" since the two teams split one-point decisions at the Garden. If the series is a dead heat on Boston's home floor, then Philly should be favored by more than two points at home. That's the challenge for handicappers right now...determining how much of what we saw in the first two games was reality...and how much was Boston going at three-quarter speed with injuries hoping that would be enough to hold serve.

The total has dropped from the 175 we saw in Game Two because of a 163 finish. This one could be tough for handicappers because free throws will be so important. Game One went over with 32 made free throws, while Game Two stayed Under with 22 made free throws. Whenever totals are this low, officiating styles often swing the Over/Under.

GAME TWO SUMMARY - PHILADELPHIA 82, BOSTON 81
Field Goal Pct: Philadelphia 41%, Boston 42%
Three-Pointers: Philadelphia 5/14, Boston 8/18
Free Throws: Philadelphia 15/21, Boston 7/9
Rebounds: Philadelphia 47, Boston 36
Turnovers: Philadelphia 16, Boston 17
Vegas Line: Boston by 4.5, total of 175

Free Throws proved to be the difference maker here because Boston made few forays into the paint to try and draw fouls. They were content to launch treys, and to put up 20-footers whenever they got some space. That's great if the shots are falling. But, not enough shots fell here to get the job done. The announcers (and studio guys) spent the night suggesting Boston was playing with fire by not being more aggressive. Good call. Boston's passivity and sloppiness (17 turnovers) cost them a game they would have won with any sort of intensity.

Now the Celtics have to retake home court back in this series. That's not normally a daunting task for an experienced team. In this case...with Pierce struggling with a knee, Bradley unable to keep his shoulder in the socket, and Allen stepping gingerly with his ankle issues...winning on the road might be tougher. The good news...Philadelphia's offense is so bad that any opponent is going to have a chance to earn a fourth quarter win. The bad news from the Boston perspective...the Celtics are in the same boat, with only one truly impressive win in the Atlanta series.

Ugly series so far. Will the value be with dogs every game because the teams are so similar and home court doesn't matter much? Will the value be with the Sixers every game because they're healthier and smelling blood? JIM HURLEY has been working closely with his sources for guidance on the injury front. And, in this particular series, something special has jumped off the page in the first two boxscores that should tell the story for the whole series. That information must be saved for paying customers! Feel free to dig on your own and see if you can find it.

 

OKLAHOMA CITY vs. LA LAKERS
Game Two Vegas Line: Oklahoma City by 7.5, total of 195.5
Oklahoma City leads 1-0

No line movement here on the team side because the tendency of the market to move toward Game One losers may be trumped by how truly horrible the Lakers looked in that first game. They played tired...and it's not like they've had time to get their legs back with only one day off. Also, everyone remembers the lack of a response last year in the Dallas series, where the Lakers lost four straight non-covers. The "old school" money is being cancelled out by Thunder money to keep the line in the same spot.

The total jumped a whopping three points because the first game landed on 209. Just be aware that the game was played a slow pace. They didn't run and gun their way to 209 points. A soft Lakers defense didn't put up much of a fight. If there's more fight this time around, then the Vegas total move was an overreaction.

GAME ONE SUMMARY - OKLAHOMA CITY 119, LA LAKERS 90
Field Goal Pct: Lakers 43%, Oklahoma City 53%
Three-Pointers: Lakers 7/16, Oklahoma City 7/17
Free Throws: Lakers 13/15, Oklahoma City 24/29
Rebounds: Lakers 43, Oklahoma City 41
Turnovers: Lakers 15, Oklahoma City 4
Vegas Line: Oklahoma City by 7.5, total of 192.5

Stats from games like this are often red herrings. We know Oklahoma City is the better team, but they're not 29 points better. Clearly this is going to be a short series if the Thunder are going to move the ball at will with no turnover risk. They're likely to win the free throw battle because Kobe Bryant doesn't attack the basket any more. Three-pointers could go either way depending on who's hot on a given night. The Lakers simply have to defend if they want to have any chance to even compete in this series let alone win it.

Will they ever get their legs back? There's a back-to-back Friday and Saturday in LA to get the West lined up with the East. Sorry Lakers fans...fatigue is going to be a problem. Whatever gas is left in the tank needs to be used on defense.

JIM HURLEY'S Wild Wednesday package will be available in the afternoon for credit card purchase. That will include strong plays in the basketball, which has won 6 of the last 7, plus something special from a baseball card that includes these matchups:

Boston at Tampa Bay
NY Yankees at Toronto
Miami at Atlanta
Cincinnati at NY Mets
St. Louis at San Francisco

A bunch of two-game series ended Tuesday...meaning fresh matchups Wednesday and Thursday before a showcase Interleague Weekend starts on Friday.

If you have any questions about our service, call the office at 1-800-323-4453. Be sure to check on the Preakness and Belmont when you call. The Preakness goes this Saturday...and you can purchase just the big race itself or the full day of action at Pimlico for a great rate. Were you aware that JIM HURLEY has more horse racing clients than most places have sports clients?!

Back with you Thursday to preview Game Three of Miami-Indiana and Game Two of San Antonio-LA Clippers. We've scoured the internet and can't find a single place that even approximates the level of analysis and commentary you get in the NOTEBOOK and HURLEY SEZ features at this website. Be sure you're with us EVERY DAY so you know what's really happening in the NBA Playoffs. If you're ready to step up to the window in Las Vegas and fire away...link up with JIM HURLEY'S NETWORK for the best plays on the board!

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