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NBA Basketball Playoff Picks - Thursday, May 08, 2014

NBA Basketball Playoff Picks - Thursday, May 08, 2014

NBA Basketball Playoff Picks
NBA Basketball Playoff Picks
and Betting Lines

Brooklyn at Miami: The Heat will look to pick up a home victory in Game 2 on Thursday night in order to protect their home-court advantage against the Nets.

Portland at San Antonio: The Spurs look to take a commanding 2-0 lead in the Western Conference Semifinals on Thursday night when they host the Trail Blazers.



BROOKLYN NETS (48-42) at MIAMI HEAT (59-28)
Sportsbook.ag Line & Total: Miami -7.5 & 192.5

The Heat will look to pick up a home victory in Game 2 on Thursday night in order to protect their home-court advantage against the Nets.

Brooklyn was unable to capitalize on the rustiness of Miami, which had a long break after a first-round sweep over the Bobcats, and was blown out by a score of 107-86 in Game 1. The Nets were a perfect 4-0 SU during the regular-season series, but in the playoffs, the Heat are a whole other animal at 5-0 SU (4-1 ATS) in this postseason. Although Brooklyn has been a poor road team this season at 17-28 SU (20-24-1 ATS), it has done well both on one day's rest (28-19 ATS, 60%) and after an SU loss (22-19 ATS, 54%). Miami has been a losing bet at home this season (20-23-1 ATS) despite a stellar 35-9 SU mark, and is also 15-23-2 ATS (40%) when coming off an ATS victory. Over the past three seasons in this series, the Heat own a 7-4 SU advantage (6-5 ATS), including 4-2 (SU and ATS) when they host the Nets. But Brooklyn has been resilient after getting blown out this season, by going 10-2 ATS after a double-digit road loss and 13-3 ATS after a 15-point defeat. However, Miami tends to thrive after big wins, going 23-11 ATS after two straight double-digit wins over the past two seasons, and is 7-0 ATS when playing five or less games in 14 days this season. The only significant injury to either team is Heat PF Chris Andersen (knee), who is expected to play on Thursday.

The Nets had a golden opportunity to steal Game 1 with the Heat having not played for a week, and their rust was evident in the first half when Brooklyn went to the locker room down by only three points. But the Nets couldn't stop Miami in the second half, as they were outscored 61-43. Brooklyn shot the ball really well at 47.1% FG and 41.7% threes (10-for-24), but its opponent knocked down 56.8% FG and 39.1% threes (9-of-23). The Nets' best offensive player in Game 1 was PG Deron Williams (16.9 PPG, 5.3 APG in playoffs) who shot the ball well with 17 points (7-of-10 FG, 3-of-5 threes), in 30 minutes. However, Williams was unable to get his teammates involved (3 assists, 3 turnovers) and finished with a minus-6 rating. SF Paul Pierce (12.8 PPG in playoffs), who averaged 21.3 PPG against the Heat in the regular season, had just eight points and a team-high six rebounds in 29 minutes on Tuesday. Pierce was locked down throughout the game and was unable to consistently create separation for himself. Pierce was one of the biggest reasons the Nets had success against the Heat in the regular season, and if he does not get back on track, his team has little-to-no chance of taking down the defending champions. SG Joe Johnson (21.3 PPG in playoffs) chipped in 17 points (7-of-11 FG, 3-of-6 threes) in Game 1, but despite scoring his points efficiently, he will need to take more shots for his team to win. Johnson is able to get a good shot off on nearly every possession due to his combination of size and skill, so whatever shots he takes will be better than the ones his teammates weren’t making. His minus-19 rating in Game 1 shows that Johnson needs to play better defense as well. The same goes for SG Shaun Livingston (8.5 PPG, 3.4 RPG, 3.1 APG in playoffs) who scored nine points (4-of-9 FG) on Tuesday, but posted a minus-23 rating.

The Heat had their struggles towards the end of the regular season and were unable to pick up a victory over the Nets throughout the regular season, but this is a different team in the playoffs where it has averaged 102.8 PPG on 49.5% FG and 42.3% threes during its perfect 5-0 postseason. A lot of that offensive success has to do with superstar SF LeBron James (28.4 PPG, 7.4 RPG, 5.4 APG, 1.8 SPG in playoffs), who played 36 minutes in Game 1 and had 22 points (10-of-15 FG) while barely even breaking a sweat. Miami pulled away early in the fourth quarter, so James did not need to exert all of his energy and should be ready to dominate yet again in Game 2. PF Chris Bosh (14.6 PPG, 6.4 RPG in playoffs) also played well in Game 1, finishing with 15 points and 11 rebounds in 31 minutes of play. This game was Bosh’s first double-double of the 2014 playoffs, and the Heat will need him to be equally as effective on the glass throughout the remainder of the postseason. SG Ray Allen (6.4 PPG in playoffs) had a huge night off the bench on Tuesday, scoring 19 points (6-of-10 FG, 4-of-7 threes) in his 26 minutes. Allen has tons of experience in the playoffs, and his team will be counting on him to knock down big three-pointers the rest of the way. SG Dwyane Wade (16.8 PPG, 4.0 APG, 3.4 RPG, 1.4 SPG in playoffs) played 33 minutes in Game 1 and finished with 14 points, five assists and four rebounds. If Wade is healthy, the Heat should be very difficult to beat for this much slower Nets team.

Sports Betting at Sportsbook.com

PORTLAND TRAIL BLAZERS (58-31) at SAN ANTONIO SPURS (67-23)
Sportsbook.ag   Line & Total: San Antonio -6.5 & 208.5

The Spurs look to take a commanding 2-0 lead in the Western Conference Semifinals on Thursday night when they host the Trail Blazers.

Portland was never competitive in Tuesday's Game 1, trailing 65-39 at halftime and losing 116-92. The biggest problem in for the Trail Blazers in the series opener was their 20 turnovers, as they can ill-afford to give the ball away against an efficient offense like San Antonio. It was a tough offensive night all around for Portland, as the team shot 38% from the field, and 25% (4-of-16) from the three-point line. Meanwhile, the Spurs committed only 12 turnovers and nailed 51% FG and 44% threes (7-for-16). In the first-round series against the Rockets, the Blazers did a great job of protecting the rim (9.2 BPG), but blocked only two shots on Tuesday. But this has been a resilient club on the road recently, going 13-2 ATS in the past three seasons on the road after trailing its previous game by 15+ points at halftime. This season, Portland is a strong 25-20 SU (27-18 ATS) in all road games and has not needed much rest between games, going 39-29 ATS (57%) with less than two off-days in between games. The club is also 13-4 SU over its past 17 contests. After looking beatable for most of the first round, San Antonio appears to be ready to make a run at the title. In the past two games, both at home, the club won by a combined 47 points, to improve to 27-7 SU (20-14 ATS) in the past 34 contests. While Tony Parker had a huge Game 1 with 33 points and nine assists, the Spurs' bench also stepped up by outscoring Trail Blazers reserves by a 50-18 margin. San Antonio is now 36-10 SU at home, but only 22-24 ATS. However, the club's recent offensive surge is a good sign for Thursday, as it is 22-5 ATS over the past three seasons after scoring 105+ points in three straight games. With the Game 1 win, the Spurs hold a tiny 36-35 ATS advantage in this series since 1996, which includes an even 18-18 ATS mark in San Antonio. There are no significant injuries for either team.

PF LaMarcus Aldridge (30.1 PPG, 11.6 RPG, 2.3 BPG in playoffs) was the only Portland player ready to go on Tuesday, finishing with 32 points (12-of-25 FG) and 14 rebounds. Just like he did in the first round of the playoffs, Aldridge was hitting the mid-range jump shot that makes him impossible to guard, but he also wound up with a game-worst rating of minus-23. However, the other part of the dynamic duo, PG Damian Lillard (24.3 PPG, 6.1 APG, 6.0 RPG in playoffs) had a difficult night in Game 1. He scored only four points with zero assists in the first half, and compiled the majority of his 17 points (6-of-15 FG) when the game was out of reach. Lillard finished with twice as many turnovers (six) as assists (three) and tallied a minus-16 rating. However, Lillard responded from a difficult Game 2 against Houston in the last series (18 points on 3-of-14 FG) with a big bounce-back effort (30 points on 9-of-16 FG). He tried to do too much at times, as veteran Tony Parker certainly got the best of the 23-year-old. SF Nicolas Batum (14.6 PPG, 5.7 RPG, 4.4 APG in playoffs) and SG Wesley Matthews (14.3 PPG, 1.6 SPG in playoffs) have to play much better than they did in Game 1 when they combined for 15 points on 5-of-18 shooting. The Trail Blazers are at their best when Lillard and Aldridge are attacking, and then dishing out to Batum and Matthews for wide-open three-point shots. Aldridge is such a great player that he is going to get his numbers regardless on how he is defended. The Spurs realized that, and really focused on stopping the role players of the Trail Blazers. The Portland bench really struggled shooting (6-of-19 FG) with the biggest culprit being SG Mo Williams (7.9 PPG in playoffs), who made only 3-of-11 shots and posted a minus-16 rating with four assists and four turnovers in his 28 unproductive minutes. If it was not for some garbage-time scoring by SG Will Barton (3.0 PPG in series) who scored nine points on 3-of-3 threes, the output of the bench would have been much worse.

PG Tony Parker (21.5 PPG, 5.3 APG in playoffs) is the leader of this team, and he was back in playoff form on Tuesday night with 33 points (13-of-24 FG), nine assists and a +27 rating despite his six turnovers. Parker is absolutely relentless at attacking the rim, and despite a lack of height and athleticism, finishes at the basket as well as any guard in the league. He is terrific at running the pick-and-roll, as he knows exactly what he wants to do as soon as the screen is set. When he is in control of the offense like he was in Game 1, the Spurs are nearly impossible to beat. SG Marco Belinelli (5.1 PPG in playoffs) gave the Spurs a huge lift off the bench in Game 1 with 19 points on 7-of-9 FG (3-of-5 threes) with a +13 rating. Belinelli and PG Patty Mills (6.4 PPG in playoffs), who scored 10 points in 12 minutes, were needed to pick up the slack for struggling SGs Manu Ginobili (15.8 PPG, 4.6 APG, 3.6 RPG, 2.0 SPG in playoffs) and Danny Green (6.3 PPG in playoffs) who combined for two points on 0-for-9 shooting in Tuesday's win. But the starting frontcourt for Game 1 was comprised of three productive players. PF Tim Duncan (16.6 PPG, 8.8 RPG, 1.9 BPG in playoffs) contributed a double-double with 12 points and 11 rebounds, SF Kawhi Leonard (12.4 PPG, 7.6 RPG, 1.5 SPG in playoffs) had a well-rounded 16 points, nine boards and five steals, while C Tiago Splitter (10.0 PPG, 8.5 RPG, 1.3 SPG in playoffs) had only five points and five boards, but still posted a +24 rating. Leonard does not have a lot of plays drawn up for him, but he is a huge part of the Spurs' success, and did a terrific job of guarding Batum. San Antonio has so many players that can beat you on any given night, which makes the club very difficult to beat.

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