Charlotte Hornets at Miami Heat (-6.5, 191)
Series tied 3-3
The Charlotte Hornets had a chance to close out the series at home but ran into a vintage performance from Dwyane Wade in Game 6. Now it’s the Miami Heat with a chance to clinch the best-of-7 series in front of their home fans, and they host the Hornets in the decisive Game 7 on Sunday.
Wade scored 10 of his team-high 23 points in the fourth quarter of Friday’s 97-90 triumph, including a pair of rare 3-pointers that helped seal the win. “I trust my teammates and I love them, but if we were going to lose, I was going out shooting it,” Wade told reporters. “At this point in my career, I play for these moments. … It’s what makes you feel alive.” Kemba Walker tried to carry his team in the same manner and finished with 37 points on 14-of-30 shooting in the losing effort for the Hornets. “It’s always tough to lose, obviously,” Walker told reporters. “We made so many mistakes. We just have to be better. Of course I wish it had gone our way, but they just made great plays down the stretch, and they deserved to win.”
TV: 1 p.m. ET, ABC
LINE HISTORY: The Heat opened as 7-point home favorites for their winner-take-all Game 7 versus the Hornets. The line has been bet down to -6.5. The total has yet to move off the opening number of 191. Check out the complete line history here.
ABOUT THE HORNETS (51-37, 45-42-1 ATS, 42-44-1 O/U): Walker scored 14 of the team’s 20 points in the fourth quarter on Friday and could use a more consistent effort from the other perimeter players on the team. Small forward Marvin Williams and guards Courtney Lee, Nicolas Batum and Jeremy Lin have shined at times in the series but combined to go 4-of-22 from the floor in Game 6, and Batum missed the second half with ankle and foot injuries that already forced him out of two games in the series. “I tried everything,” Batum told the Charlotte Observer. “I tried hard, but I can’t push side to side. I was hurting the team much more than I was helping the team. So I told coach, ‘if you need me in the second half, call me.’ But it’s tough.”
ABOUT THE HEAT (51-37, 46-41-1 ATS, 36-51-1 O/U): Wade is getting more of a boost from his teammates, and Loul Deng continued a strong series with 21 points on 9-of-14 shooting in Game 6. The veteran forward is averaging 19.7 points in the series (up from 12.3 in the regular season) while shooting 51.4 percent from 3-point range (up from 34.4). “The best thing about (Game 7) is we’re at home,” Deng told reporters. “We gave ourselves another chance to fight. We have to come out with a lot of energy. It’s going to be a great game. I’m glad we’re home.”
* Heat are 8-1 ATS in their last nine home games.
* Hornets are 5-2 ATS in their last seven games following a SU loss.
* Under is 4-0 in the last four meetings.
* Over is 5-1 in Hornets last six road games.
Portland Trail Blazers at Golden State Warriors (-8.5, 209.5)
The Portland Trail Blazers benefited from some injury luck in the first round against the Los Angeles Clippers and are hoping for some more when they visit the top-seeded Golden State Warriors in Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals on Sunday. Warriors MVP guard Stephen Curry (knee) will miss Game 1 and could miss several games in the series.
Curry was diagnosed with a grade 1 strain of his right MCL after falling awkwardly in Game 4 of the first round against the Houston Rockets on Apr. 24 and was given a timetable of two weeks before being evaluated again. “Feeling better but just got a ways to go,” Curry told reporters on Friday. “I always have an optimistic view, no matter what it is. I hope to get back sooner. I haven’t talked to the doctors, athletic training staff, all the experts. That two-week timeline was, as (Golden State general manager) Bob (Myers) says, an educated guess.” The Trail Blazers certainly wouldn’t mind if he missed the whole series and just got done wrapping up a first-round win over a Clippers squad that was without stars Chris Paul and Blake Griffin for the final two games. “We thought (Los Angeles) was tough without (Paul) and Blake, but (the Warriors are) a championship team,” Portland guard Damian Lillard told reporters. “Even without Steph, they’re still a championship team. We’ve got to keep our mind right, compete and play together. … We’ve just got to keep improving on the things we’ve done well and be locked in defensively.”
TV: 3:30 p.m. ET, ABC
LINE HISTORY: The Warriors opened Game 1 as 7.5-point home favorites and even without Steph Curry bettors have felt that wasn’t enough with the line already moving to -8.5. The total has been bet down a point and a half from 211 to 209.5. Check out the complete line history here.
ABOUT THE TRAIL BLAZERS (48-40, 47-41 ATS, 46-42 O/U): Portland lost the first two games in the first round before winning four straight and were immediately turning the page to Golden State after clinching the series on Friday. “They pose a lot of problems,” Trail Blazers guard C.J. McCollum told reporters of the Warriors. “Historically speaking, they had a really good year breaking the record for wins, losing (two games) at home I believe this year, so you know it’s going to be a tough environment. Offensively, even without Steph, they do a great job of moving the ball.” McCollum was a key to the first-round win, averaging 12.5 points in Games 1 and 2 before exploding for 23.3 over the final four contests.
ABOUT THE WARRIORS (77-10, 49-36-2 ATS, 46-40-1 O/U): Golden State dominated the Houston Rockets in the final six quarters of the first-round series after watching Curry go down just before the half in Game 4, outscoring them 179-119 over the final 1 1/2 games. “(We’re) doing a few things different with Steph out,” Warriors forward Andre Iguodala told reporters. “We don’t have that explosive, MVP-type player. But we did a really good job of getting into that mode, making a couple extra passes per possession. The ball had to move quicker. Klay (Thompson) has to move a little bit more than normal. Get the ball in the post a little bit more.” Golden State has two more All-Stars in Thompson and Draymond Green to go along with a solid supporting cast that will hold the fort until Curry returns.
* Favorite is 5-1 ATS in the last six meetings.
* Warriors are 5-0 ATS in their last five home games.
* Over is 6-0 in the last six meetings.
* Under is 6-0 in Trail Blazers last six games following a ATS loss.
Indiana Pacers at Toronto Raptors (-5.5, 190.5)
Series tied 3-3
All the pressure is on the second-seeded Toronto Raptors when they host the Indiana Pacers on Sunday in the finale of the best-of-7 Eastern Conference first-round series. Toronto hasn’t won a postseason series since 2001 – the longest drought in the NBA – and is being severely tested by a seventh-seed team that won 11 fewer regular-season games.
Indiana remained alive with a solid 101-83 victory in Game 6 to even the series and Raptors All-Star shooting guard DeMar DeRozan doesn’t need to be reminded what a Game 7 home loss will mean. “The season would be a failure if we don’t get out of the first round and give ourselves a chance to play in the second round,” DeRozan told reporters. “We understand that.” DeRozan scored just eight points on Friday for the second time in three games and the shaky performances from him and point guard Kyle Lowry – the first player to shoot below 40 percent in each of the first six games of the postseason – have the Pacers on the brink of pulling off the improbable series victory. “I believe we can play with this team,” Indiana coach Frank Vogel said after Game 6. “We have great respect for them, but I really believe we’re hitting our stride at the right time and playing our best basketball of the season when it matters.”
TV: 8 p.m. ET, TNT, Sportsnet (Toronto)
LINE HISTORY: The Raptors opened as 6.5-point home favorites for this winner-take-all Game 7, but bettors are siding with history and the Pacers as the number has moved down to -5.5. The total opened at 190.5 and has yet to move that number. Check out the complete line history here.
ABOUT THE PACERS (48-40, 45-41-1 ATS, 38-50 O/U): All five Indiana starters scored 12 or more points in Game 6 as the team gave All-Star forward Paul George some much-needed support. George has been carrying the team by averaging 27.5 points, 6.8 rebounds, 4.8 assists and 1.8 steals in the series and he had 21 points, 11 rebounds and six assists in Friday’s victory. “We just had a fight in us,” George told reporters. “As a group, collectively, we knew that this could be the end of our season. We just did a great job of battling.”
ABOUT THE RAPTORS (59-29, 47-41 ATS, 43-44-1 O/U): DeRozan is averaging 15.8 points and shooting 32.1 percent from the field, while Lowry is faring even worse at 14.3 points and 31 percent. Forward Patrick Patterson, who is shooting 31 percent over the past four games after starting off the series by making 9-of-11 shots, said the Raptors need to take a long at themselves in the mirror. “Do we want to be the team that won 56 games? Do we want to be the team that got two All-Stars to the All-Star Game, set new records, went on long winning streaks and played great defense in the first half of the season?” Patterson rhetorically asked reporters. “Or do we want to be the team that has come into Indiana the past two times and got blown out of the water? We have to decide what we want to be.”
* Pacers are 5-1 ATS in their last six games following a ATS win.
* Raptors are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games following a SU loss.
* Under is 6-1 in Raptors last seven overall.
* Under is 7-1 in Pacers last eight overall.