Charlotte Hornets at Miami Heat (-6, 193)
Series ties 2-2
The Heat have been two different teams in the playoffs depending on the venue and will hope for a return to form on offense when the series shifts back to Miami for Game 5 on Wednesday. The sixth-seeded Charlotte Hornets took Games 3 and 4 at home to even the series and hope the defensive improvements the team made can carry over to Game 5.
The Heat set a franchise postseason scoring record with 123 points in Game 1 and put up 72 in the first half of a 115-103 Game 2 win before failing to crack 90 points in either of the two road games. “The biggest thing I’d change is nothing,” Miami center Hassan Whiteside, who was careful not to directly criticize the referees, told reporters. “We just missed some shots. They’ve got to come to South Beach, and we’ve been playing well all year at home.” The Hornets attacked the Heat defense through the paint with guards Kemba Walker and Jeremy Lin in the 89-85 Game 4 win, and the two combined for 55 points. Walker scored 11 straight Charlotte points in the last six minutes of the fourth quarter to help his team pull away.
TV: 8 p.m. ET, TNT, FSN Sun (Miami)
LINE HISTORY: The Heat opened as 5.5-point favorites for this pivotal Game 5 matchup against the Hornets and the line has moved up slightly to -6. The total opened at 193 and also has not moved. Check out the complete line history here.
ABOUT THE HORNETS (50-36, 44-41-1 ATS, 42-42-2 O/U): Walker slumped to 17 points on 4-of-19 shooting in Game 3 but found his groove again in Game 4, especially late. “Time and time again in these situations, my team, coaching staff, everybody tells me it’s time to win.” Walker told reporters. “Coach put me in position to make plays. I just want to be as aggressive as possible. I was able to get my shot off, and I just wanted to be confident.” Lin added the highlight of the game when he banked in a 3-pointer and shrugged on the way down the court.
ABOUT THE HEAT (50-36, 45-40-1 ATS, 36-49-1 O/U): Miami was whistled for 26 personal fouls in Game 4, with starting guards Dwyane Wade and Goran Dragic combining for nine. “We’ve had some key guys in foul trouble,” Heat guard Joe Johnson, who did not commit a foul, told reporters. “For the most part, we were just trying to hold the fort until we can get those guys back out there. But it’s tough. We just kept fouling and kept putting them on the line. We have to make the game easier. The game has been so tough for us, especially in Charlotte. We have to make an adjustment.” Wade averaged 22 points on 19-of-38 in the first two games at home before slumping to 14.5 on 11-of-31 in Charlotte.
* Hornets are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 road games vs. a team with a home winning % of greater than .600.
* Heat are 7-0 ATS in their last 7 home games vs. a team with a losing road record.
* Over is 5-0 in Hornets last 5 road games.
* Home team is 4-0 ATS in the last 4 meetings.
Portland Trail Blazers at Los Angeles Clippers (+3, 197.5)
Series ties 2-2
The Los Angeles Clippers looked like things were finally breaking their way on the injury front, and then Chris Paul reached in for a steal. The fourth-seeded Clippers will be without their All-Star point guard and All-Star forward Blake Griffin when they host the fifth-seeded Portland Trail Blazers on Wednesday.
The MCL sprain suffered by Golden State Warriors point guard Stephen Curry on Sunday seemed to make the path to the Western Conference finals much easier for Los Angeles, but the path out of the first round got much tougher the next night. Paul reached in for a steal in the lane in the third quarter on Monday and suffered a broken third metacarpal on his right hand which required surgery on Tuesday that will keep him out for the rest of the playoff. Griffin, who missed over three months in the regular season with his own broken hand and a quad injury, re-aggravated the quad in Monday’s Game 4 loss and will also sit out the rest of the way. The Trail Blazers took advantage of Paul’s absence in Game 4 and outscored the Clippers 32-20 in the fourth quarter, marking the second straight game they pulled away late.
TV: 10 p.m. ET, NBATV, KGW (Portland)
LINE HISTORY: The Clippers opened as two-point favorites and the Blake Griffin injury news flipped the line on Tuesday afternoon. Overnight on Tuesday the line continued The total hit the board at 198.5 and came down a full point to 197.5 with no Griffin. Check out the complete line history here.
ABOUT THE TRAIL BLAZERS (46-40, 46-40 ATS, 44-42 O/U): Damian Lillard struggled from the floor in three of the four games in the series, including a 4-of-15 effort in Game 4, but Portland is picking up its star with big efforts from players like Al-Farouq Aminu and Mason Plumlee. Aminu scored a career-high 30 points on 11-of-20 shooting to go along with 10 rebounds, three blocks and three assists in Monday’s triumph after going 11-of-37 in the first three games. “It was just a matter of time,” Trail Blazers head coach Terry Stotts told reporters. “Obviously (Aminu) struggled shooting the ball the first three games, but that didn’t take away from what he was giving us defensively. It was good to see him break out. Everybody has been encouraging him and he’s put in the time and, like I said, it was just a matter of time before he had a game like that.”
ABOUT THE CLIPPERS (55-31, 42-41-3 ATS, 34-52 O/U): Los Angeles is focusing on the near future and trying to figure out a way to win two more games in this series. “We don’t have to be the best team,” coach Doc Rivers told reporters. “We just have to be the best team (Wednesday). And then we have to figure out how to do it one more time.” Paul averaged 26.3 points in the first three games of the series and had 16 before going down in Game 4 while Griffin, who aggravated the quad sometime in the second half on Monday and tried to play through the injury until the middle of the fourth quarter, averaged 15 points and 8.8 rebounds.
* Trail Blazers are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 road games vs. a team with a winning home record.
* Clippers are 5-0 ATS in their last 5 home games.
* Under is 5-0 in Trail Blazers last 5 games playing on 1 days rest.
* Under is 6-1 in Clippers last 7 games following a ATS loss.
* Under is 5-0 in the last 5 meetings in Los Angeles.
Houston Rockets at Golden State Warriors (-9.5, 211.5)
Warriors lead series 3-1
The news wasn’t as bad as it could have been, but the Golden State Warriors will still be without MVP Stephen Curry when they attempt to close out the Houston Rockets at home in Game 5 on Wednesday. Curry left Sunday’s Game 4 after slipping on the floor at the end of the half and was diagnosed with a sprained MCL in his right knee.
Curry will sit for two weeks before being reevaluated, putting his availability for the next round in jeopardy should the Warriors, as expected, close out the eighth-seeded Rockets. The star guard was defending on the final play of the first half on Sunday when he slipped on a wet spot and had his right knee bend awkwardly on his way to the ground. “We said two weeks, but that’s no guarantee that it will be in two weeks, might be after two weeks, might be before,” Golden State general manager Bob Myers told reporters after an MRI exam on Monday. “But I think it will be somewhere in that range, hopefully.” Houston had a chance to even the series with Curry limping around the locker room on Sunday at home and instead were outscored 65-38 in the second half of a 121-94 loss.
TV: 10:30 p.m. ET, TNT, ROOT Southwest (Houston), CSN Bay Area (Golden State)
LINE HISTORY: The Warriors opened as 9.5-point favorites and, although the line wobbled a bit down to -9, it currently sits at the same number that it hit began. The total opened at 214 and dropped consistantly down to 211.5. Check out the complete line history here.
ABOUT THE ROCKETS (42-44, 38-48 ATS, 48-38 O/U): The difference in effort between the teams was noticeable in the second half on Sunday, and Houston interim coach J.B. Bickerstaff was not afraid to call out his players after the game. “When the moment calls for us to raise our intensity levels, we dropped our guard,” Bickerstaff told reporters. “You could see the difference in the way that (the Warriors) played in that third quarter and how they scrapped and how they got every loose ball. You could see the intent in their guys’ eyes.” The Rockets allowed 41 points in the third quarter and now need a miraculous comeback for the second straight postseason – they overcame a 3-1 deficit to the Los Angeles Clippers in the second round last spring before falling to Golden State in the conference finals.
ABOUT THE WARRIORS (76-10, 48-36-2 ATS, 46-39-1 O/U): Golden State is already 1-1 in the series while playing without Curry, who sat out Games 2 and 3 with a sprained right ankle. The Warriors tend to lean on Curry’s epic scoring binges when the offense stalls, but All-Stars Draymond Green and Klay Thompson both stepped up in the second half on Sunday and are ready to carry more of the load. “It was the way we were moving the ball and trusting each other on both sides of the ball,” Thompson told reporters of the 41-point third quarter. “That’s what we’ve got to do to beat this team. We knew, as soon as Steph went down, we were going to have to do it by ourselves.”
* Rockets are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 after allowing 100 points or more in their previous game.
* Warriors are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 home games.
* Over is 8-1 in Rockets last 9 games following a straight up loss of more than 10 points.
* Over is 5-1 in Warriors last 6 home games.
* Rockets are 2-6 ATS in the last 8 meetings.
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