Commanding performances from Philadelphia, New Orleans, and Golden State set the stage for the second round of the NBA Playoffs. Plus, Friday previews and bonus hockey wrap up the week in VSiN City!
NBA Thursday Summaries: Blowout margins of 20, 17, and 13 lead a chalk sweep
Let’s run the numbers in the order Thursday’s games were played…
Philadelphia (-2.5) 128, Miami 103
2-point Pct: Philadelphia 49%, Miami 43%
3-pointers: Philadelphia 18/34, Miami 16/33
Free Throws: Philadelphia 28/37, Miami 26/35
Rebounds: Philadelphia 41, Miami 35
Turnovers: Philadelphia 10, Miami 15
You don’t often see a game where two teams both shoot lights out from long range, while also earning a million free throw attempts. A combined 34 treys should mean the offenses focused on the perimeter. A combined total of 54 made free throws on 72 attempts should mean nobody bothered to try threes because everyone was flying at the rim. As the sport continues to move away from mid-range jumpers, this kind of box score will become more common.
Joel Embiid returned to the lineup to score 23 points in 30 minutes. How about 2 of 3 on treys and 10 of 15 from the line for the big man!
Though, this may just be a continuation of “Philadelphia is AWESOME when the treys are falling, vulnerable when they aren’t.”
Sixers From Long Range
Game One: 18 of 28 on treys
Game Two: 7 of 35 on treys
Game Three: 18 of 34 on treys
If Philly smooths that out, the Sixers are immediately in the Eastern Championship discussion. That’s not all that big an “if” either. Sixers retake home court advantage in the series, carrying a 2-1 lead into the weekend.
New Orleans (-3.5) 119, Portland 102
2-point Pct: Portland 57%, New Orleans 58%
3-pointers: Portland 9/31, New Orleans 16/19
Free Throws: Portland 44, New Orleans 38
Rebounds: Portland 44, New Orleans 38
Turnovers: Portland 24, New Orleans 12
This is a “wow” result because Portland was the pre-series favorite that had fallen behind 2-0, and STILL got crushed in the backs-to-the-wall must-win spot. The Blazers just cannot stop Anthony Davis. That “battle of the stars” with Damian Lillard once again went to Unibrow in dominant fashion. Let’s update the sums from the preview…
Davis: 14 of 26, 9 of 18, and 11 of 18 from the floor
Lillard: 6 of 23, 7 of 18, and 5 of 14 from the floor
That’s 34 of 62 for Davis, 18 of 55 for Lillard. Thursday night, Lillard threw in 8 turnovers while only managing 2 assists. Davis grabbed 11 rebounds and didn’t turn the ball over a single time despite spending much of the evening in traffic. You can’t call this a “coming out” party for Davis, because everyone’s known what he’s been capable of when healthy. Maybe an “arriving with authority at a championship performance level” party. Again, New Orleans entered the matchup perceived as the inferior team (Portland -190 to advance, Pelicans plus 170).
New Orleans carries a 3-0 series lead into the weekend.
Golden State (-3.5) 110, San Antonio 97
2-point Pct: Golden State 64%, San Antonio 56%
3-pointers: Golden State 10/32, San Antonio 7/33
Free Throws: Golden State 16/18, San Antonio 16/20
Rebounds: Golden State 39, San Antonio 41
Turnovers: Golden State 10, San Antonio 10
Devastating schedule spot for the Spurs, coming so soon after a death in the family. And, it’s a poor matchup anyway in terms of skill sets. Golden State now leads made treys 35-20, which is plus 45 points spread out over just three games. No way for the Spurs to overcome that, particularly with this happening INSIDE the arc…
Game One: Golden state 58%, San Antonio 40%
Game Two: Golden State 55%, San Antonio 54%
Game Three: Golden State 64%, San Antonio 56%
Warriors take a 3-0 series lead into the weekend…and it’s very hard seeing an extension considering the cloud that’s going to linger over the Alamo City for awhile.
NBA Playoffs: Updating our estimated “market” Power Ratings
Now that the full set of Game Three point spreads has gone through the ringer, we can update our estimate of how “the market” is currently rating all 16 teams. We use three points as a standard for home court advantage…then create a couplet from each matchup. Golden State was -3 Thursday night at San Antonio. That’s the same as -6 on a neutral court. The Warriors must go six spots ahead of the Spurs. Let’s attempt a scale for the field based on that approach.
88: Golden State (without Curry, 90 or 91 with him)
84: Cleveland, Philadelphia (with Embiid back), New Orleans, Oklahoma City, Utah
82: San Antonio
81: Boston, Washington, Minnesota
80: Indiana, Milwaukee
Well, Washington (-2 at home vs. Toronto) and Milwaukee (-6 at home vs. Boston) are getting such huge “must-win” adjustments after falling behind 2-0 that we can’t use those lines as a guide. So, we went with more common sense numbers off prior action.
Also, the triumvirate of New Orleans, OKC, and Utah might only be at 83 rather than 84. But, 84 felt like the better of those two options given the stellar level of play for New Orleans in particular, and the other two when things are clicking.
We’ll try to update these at least once a week for you. Looks like some exciting basketball ahead as the lower rung teams fall by the wayside. Let’s see if there’s some exciting basketball ahead Friday night.
NBA Friday Previews: Cleveland hopes to re-take home court from Indiana; Washington and Milwaukee must win their home openers
Again, we’ll take them in schedule order…
Cleveland at Indiana (7 p.m. ET. on ESPN, series tied 1-1)
Cleveland.: 12.0 made treys/game, #5 offense, #29 defense, #22 rebounding
Indiana: 9.0 made treys/game, #12 offense, #12 defense, #19 rebounding
So far, the regular season themes of “overrated Cleveland burns money” and “underrated Indiana has become an ATM” have held true. Pacers have covered by 25 and 5 in two games that were split straight up. Let’s see if the stats from Game Two tell us anything about what kind of improvement Cleveland is (or isn’t) showing in the areas of defense and rebounding.
Cleveland (-8.5) 100, Indiana 97
2-point Pct: Indiana 63%, Cleveland 58%
3-pointers: Indiana 6/22, Cleveland 11/28
Free Throws: Indiana 9/12, Cleveland 15/22
Rebounds: Indiana 36, Cleveland 30
Turnovers: Indiana 17, Cleveland 15
Well, it’s obviously not great defense if a team is allowing 63% on two-pointers. But, that’s partly warped because Cleveland did force 17 turnovers while protecting the arc well. You have to read that as “when Indiana got the ball inside, it shot 63%” amidst an overall effort that didn’t fly too far past a point-per-minute all things considered.
In the G2 preview, we said that a flip from 11-8 Indiana on treys to 11-8 Cleveland could lead to a Cavs win but not a cover. Ended 11-6, and still missed the market price by a few buckets. Cleveland is -1 in Game Three with a total of 208.5
Toronto at Washington (8 p.m. ET on ESPN2, Toronto leads series 2-0)
Toronto: 11.8 made treys/game, #3 offense, #5 defense, #8 rebounding
Washington: 9.9 made treys/game, #14 offense, #15 defense, #13 rebounding
That stat combination suggests a one-sided series, which is what we’ve had so far with final margins of 8 and 11 for the Raptors north of the border. Here’s the G2 box score if you missed it.
Toronto (-7) 130, Washington 119
2-point Pct: Washington 50%, Toronto 62%
3-pointers: Washington 10/22, Toronto 13/35
Free Throws: Washington 25/28, Toronto 27/33
Rebounds: Washington 34, Toronto 48
Turnovers: Washington 8, Toronto 14
Not exactly a defensive series. We’ve had 24 and 23 made treys between the two teams…both have reached at least 50% on deuces both time…and then a high free throw count in G2. Toronto’s edge of plus 17 on rebounds has helped overcome -10 in the turnover department.
Handicappers have to decide if this is the spot Washington peaks while Toronto goes half speed with a 2-0 series lead. There’s no real justification beyond that for a point spread of Washington -2. Nothing in the numbers suggests Washington should be a home favorite given the stat dynamics and internal friction involving John Wall. The Over/Under is up to 218 after 214 fell short of 220 and 249.
Boston at Milwaukee (9:30 p.m. ET on ESPN, Boston leads series 2-0)
Boston: 11.5 made treys/game, #18 offense, #1 defense, #13 rebounding
Milwaukee: 8.8 made treys/game, #7 offense, #17 defense, #27 rebounding
Through two games, it’s clear that Milwaukee is going to attack the basket in a way that will allow them to win two-point shooting but cause them to lose the turnover department pretty badly. Boston’s only slightly up in rebounds, which is a surprise given that stat box above. Boston is plus 9 in made treys, which is how you keep winning without Kyrie Irving in uniform.
Boston (plus 1.5) 120, Milwaukee 106
2-point Pct: Milwaukee 65%, Boston 59%
3-pointers: Milwaukee 7/17, Boston 13/31
Free Throws: Milwaukee 7/17, Boston 11/18
Rebounds: Milwaukee 38, Boston 38
Turnovers: Milwaukee 15, Boston 5
That final score already seems high. Then, you see that it was a SLOW game. Milwaukee let Boston score 120 points on only 93 possessions! Yes, we double-checked. Milwaukee was 7 of 17 on both treys and free throws. That shouldn’t be possible (particularly the latter).
As we said earlier, Milwaukee is -6 in Game Three. No way to justify that price beyond expectations for “peak Milwaukee” against “valley Boston.”
NHL Friday Previews: Three huge favorites in Game 5’s
Friday’s hockey trio involves three heavy pre-series favorites all trying to wrap things up at home with 3-1 series leads. In order of starting time, Pittsburgh is -240 over Philadelphia (total of 6), Winnipeg is -230 over Minnesota (total of 5.5, Under -130), Nashville is -340 over Colorado (total of 6).
Here’s a quick recap of what’s happened so far in those three matchups…
Philadelphia at Pittsburgh (7:00 p.m. ET on NBC Sports, Pittsburgh leads 3-1)
Game One: Pittsburgh (-185) 7, Philadelphia 0 (Shots: Pitt 33-24)
Game Two: Philadelphia (plus 170) 5, Pittsburgh 1 (Shots Pitt 35-20)
Game Three: Pittsburgh (-145) 5, Philadelphia 1 (Shots Philly 27-26)
Game Four: Pittsburgh (-150) 5, Philadelphia 0 (Shots Pitt 30-26)
Minnesota at Winnipeg (7:35 p.m. ET on USA Network, Winnipeg leads 3-1)
Game One: Winnipeg (-200) 3, Minnesota 2 (Shots: Winnipeg 40-20)
Game Two: Winnipeg (-200) 4, Minnesota 1 (Shots: Winnipeg 43-17)
Game Three: Minnesota (plus 110) 6, Winnipeg 2 (Shots: Winnipeg 31-29)
Game Four: Winnipeg (-130) 2, Minnesota 0 (Shots: Minnesota 30-28)
Colorado at Nashville (9:30 p.m. ET on NBC Sports, Nashville leads 3-1)
Game One: Nashville (-300) 5, Colorado 2 (Shots: Nashville 31-27)
Game Two: Nashville (-300) 5, Colorado 4 (Shots Nashville 33-30)
Game Three: Colorado (plus 140) 5, Nashville 3 (Shots Colorado 33-32)
Game Four: Nashville (-170) 3, Colorado 2 (Shots: Nashville 34-33)
In shot counts, Pittsburgh leads 124-96, Winnipeg leads 142-96, and Nashville leads 130-123. A credit to Colorado that it could play to a 16-13 scoreboard loss with tight shot counts against a perceived juggernaut.
Have a great weekend!