Charlotte Hornets at Miami Heat (-4.5, 199)
Heat lead series 1-0
The third-seeded Miami Heat versus the sixth-seeded Charlotte Hornets was supposed to be one of the tighter matchups of the first round of the NBA playoffs. The Heat breezed to a 32-point victory in Game 1 and will try to open up a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven set with another easy win when they host the Hornets in Game 2 on Wednesday.
Miami’s clear advantage entering the series was experience, and Dwyane Wade, Luol Deng and Joe Johnson all have plenty of experience in the postseason, even if none of it came together. Deng looked comfortable with a season-high 31 points on 11-of-13 shooting in Game 1 to lead a 57.6 percent shooting effort from the Heat. “Whether you lose by 30 or one, it’s one-nothing,” Hornets coach Steve Clifford told reporters. “We lost one game. And up front, we just got manhandled. If Deng and (center Hassan) Whiteside are going to combine for those kinds of numbers, it’s going to be hard for us to win.” Charlotte was outrebounded 49-37 and outscored in the paint 56-36 but does not plan to move center Al Jefferson into the starting lineup.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, NBATV, FSN Southeast (Charlotte), FSN Sun (Miami)
LINE HISTORY: The line for this contest opened with the Heat pegged as five-point favorites and the public didn’t trust that line, betting it down to -4.5. The total opened at 202.5 and took a drastic downward turn – settling in at 199.
ABOUT THE HORNETS (48-35, 42-40-1 ATS, 41-40-2 O/U): Kemba Walker was one of three players to score in double figures with 19 points on 6-of-13 shooting in the first game but lamented the team’s execution. “We made a lot of mistakes,” Walker told reporters. “Coach gave us an awesome game plan and we just completely went against it. We didn’t do what he told us to do. That’s not really us. We’re usually the team that plays mistake-free. (Sunday), that wasn’t the case. They played extremely well as well, but we definitely made a lot of mistakes.” Starting guards Walker, Courtney Lee and Nicolas Batum each managed only one assist in the loss.
ABOUT THE HEAT (49-34, 44-38-1 ATS, 35-47-1 O/U): Whiteside was playing in his first postseason game and had no trouble getting the better of Charlotte’s frontcourt with 21 points on 9-of-11 shooting, 11 rebounds and three blocks in 26 minutes. “We just knew it was time to play Miami Heat basketball,” Whiteside told reporters. “We’re in the playoffs. It’s all or nothing. Just leave it all out there. We came out and played our hearts out as a team. We’re just going to try to keep it rolling.” Whiteside finished third in the NBA Defensive Player of the Year voting revealed on Monday.
* Hornets are 1-7 ATS in their last 8 Conference Quarterfinals games.
* Heat are 7-0 ATS in their last 7 home games.
* Over is 6-0 in Hornets last 6 vs. Eastern Conference.
* Under is 6-1 in Heat last 7 games following a straight up win.
* Over is 9-0 in the last 9 meetings in Miami.
Detroit Pistons at Cleveland Cavaliers (-10, 201)
Cavaliers lead series 1-0
The Detroit Pistons let an upset opportunity get away in the series opener and look to avoid a 0-2 hole when they visit the Cleveland Cavaliers in Wednesday’s Game 2. Eighth-seeded Detroit held a seven-point lead with 11 minutes remaining in Game 1 before top-seeded Cleveland rallied and stymied the Pistons.
Detroit point guard Reggie Jackson personifies the club’s swagger and he doesn’t see the missed opportunity as a devastating blow. “We know this is Goliath. We welcome it. We like the challenge,” Jackson told reporters after the 106-101 loss. “I think we played well, I don’t think we played necessarily our best game. We’ll figure it out. It’s a 1-0 series. We for sure got another one on Wednesday – come back and be ready to come out swinging.” The Cleveland trio of point guard Kyrie Irving (playoff career-best 31 points), power forward Kevin Love (28 points, 13 rebounds) and small forward LeBron James (22 points, 11 assists) were all in stellar form in the opener. “We have a number of guys on this team, veterans that prepared us for this moment,” Love told reporters. “So kind of leading up to it, three or four weeks left in the season, we were approaching every game like we had to get into the flow of a playoff game and approach every game as a tough one for us.”
TV: 8 p.m. ET, TNT, FSN Detroit, FSN Ohio (Cleveland)
LINE HISTORY: The Cavs opened at -10.5 and the line was quicly dropped to -10 after Detroit’s gutsy performance in Game 1. The total opened at 201 and hasn’t moved off that number.
ABOUT THE PISTONS (44-39, 43-38-2 ATS, 43-40 O/U): Backup rookie forward Stanley Johnson was a solid contributor in the opener with nine points and eight rebounds in 16 minutes and coach Stan Van Gundy expressed his regret that he didn’t play Johnson over Tobias Harris (nine points in 40 minutes) down the stretch. The first-round draft pick from Arizona averaged 8.1 points and 4.2 rebounds in the regular season but has impressed his teammates with his tenacious approach. “Stanley Johnson is a complete dog. He doesn’t fear no man,” Jackson told reporters. “We all bleed, so there ain’t no reason to worry anybody, and that’s how he feels. He’s going to come at you and attack you. It’s a mindset that we all need to have, and it’s one that we embrace with him on this team.”
ABOUT THE CAVALIERS (58-25, 37-43-3 ATS, 42-41 O/U): Irving (five) and Love (four) combined for nine of Cleveland’s 12 3-pointers in the opener and James was ecstatic to see both players come through after injuries ended their postseasons early last season. “For these two guys, they were just excited to get back to this moment,” James told reporters. “These guys have been working hard – Kyrie on his knee, Kevin on his shoulder – just to get back to this moment. It was great to be out on the floor with them and for them to put together the performance that they did.” Outside of the trio, there wasn’t much offense from the rest of the Cavaliers, as the other six who played combined for just 25 points.
* Pistons are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 vs. NBA Central.
* Cavaliers are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 vs. Eastern Conference.
* Under is 7-0 in Pistons last 7 games playing on 2 days rest.
* Over is 4-0 in Cavaliers last 4 vs. NBA Central.
* Pistons are 9-2 ATS in the last 11 meetings in Cleveland.
Portland Trail Blazers at Los Angeles Clippers (-8.5, 209)
Clippers lead series 1-0
The Los Angeles Clippers had no trouble with the Portland Trail Blazers in Game 1 and will try to take a 2-0 lead when they host Game 2 on Wednesday. The Clippers coasted to a 115-95 victory in the series opener behind 28 points and 11 assists from Chris Paul and a solid defensive effort against the Trail Blazers’ talented backcourt.
Paul had plenty of help from the rest of his teammates, including a strong game from Blake Griffin that made it look as if the former All-Star was all the way back from his quad and hand injuries. “I’m just going to go play and play as hard as I can and fill any void that we see as a team,” Griffin told reporters. “I’m not really worried about the whole, ‘Can he get back?’ or, ‘Will he be able to play at a high level?’ It’s just about filling those gaps for our team and finding ways to help.” The Trail Blazers could use a solid performance from their frontcourt after starters Al-Farouq Aminu, Maurice Harkless and Mason Plumlee combined to go 7-of-25 from the field. The vaunted backcourt duo of Damian Lillard and C.J. McCollum wasn’t much better offensively and struggled trying to stop Chris Paul and J.J. Redick on the other end of the floor.
TV: 10:30 p.m. ET, TNT, KGW (Portland), Prime Ticket (Los Angeles)
LINE HISTORY: The Clippers opened as 8.5-point favorites and the total opened at 209 – neither number has moved at this point.
ABOUT THE TRAIL BLAZERS (44-39, 44-39 ATS, 44-39 O/U): Lillard managed 21 points on 7-of-17 shooting and eight assists in Game 1 but was no match for Paul in his first playoff game as the unquestioned leader of the team. “We knew that they would make runs, but you’ve got to answer back,” Lillard told reporters. “You’ve got to get stops. You’ve got to score the ball.” Lillard helped drag the team to the playoffs despite losing four veteran starters from a playoff team last season and needs more help from McCollum, who struggled to nine points on 3-of-11 shooting in Game 1.
ABOUT THE CLIPPERS (54-29, 41-39-3 ATS, 34-49 O/U): Integrating Griffin back into the rotation after an absence of over three months was a focus for the team in the final two weeks of the regular season, and he looked comfortable in Game 1. “He was great,” Los Angeles coach Doc Rivers told reporters of Griffin. “Assertive. I loved his energy. Yeah, I mean, like I said before the game, I’ve been surprised with him. His energy, his endurance. (Sunday), I thought was the first day that he had great timing as well, so that was good for us.” Griffin delivered 19 points, 12 rebounds and six assists in 32 minutes after playing only five games down the stretch in the regular season.
* Trail Blazers are 8-1 ATS in their last 9 games following a straight up loss of more than 10 points.
* Clippers are 1-8 ATS in their last 9 games playing on 2 days rest.
* Over is 12-3 in Trail Blazers last 15 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600.
* Under is 22-5 in Clippers last 27 when their opponent allows 100 points or more in their previous game.
* Under is 4-0 in the last 4 meetings in Los Angeles.