The Los Angeles Clippers and Memphis Grizzlies play Game 7 of their opening NBA Playoff series at 1:00 p.m. (ET) on Sunday, and injuries could be the deciding factor.
Let’s first update the odds for an important Saturday contest. The Los Angeles Lakers are 5½-point home favorites over Denver at 10:30 p.m. (ET) with a total of 196. No one thought this series would go seven games when L.A. led 3-1, but now a huge upset is possible even with Metta World Peace returning from his 6-game suspension.
Boston (-5) hosting Philadelphia is up first at 8:00 p.m. (ET). The total is just 170 and this is the first second-round series to get underway.
The 76ers took advantage of injuries to Chicago’s Derrick Rose and Joakim Noah last round and now Boston’s Paul Pierce (knee) and Ray Allen (ankle) are playing banged-up. The older Celtics would have preferred more rest after finishing off Atlanta in six games on Thursday.
The home team was 3-0 SU and ATS between these Atlantic Division rivals this year.
Sunday at 3:30 p.m. (ET) has Miami hosting Indiana and feeling pretty good after beating the Knicks in five games. That included going 3-0 SU and ATS at home, although two of the covers were by the slimmest of margins (half-point each).
Coach Erik Spoelstra got very good play from stars LeBron James (27.8 PPG) and Dwyane Wade (21 PPG) in the first round, but scoring depth remains an issue and there are still whispers about James and the Heat having trouble executing when the game is on the line.
The third-seeded Pacers have been almost an afterthought in the Eastern Conference race. They wish there was reseeding in the NBA Playoffs like the NHL, which would have allowed them to avoid Miami until the conference finals with the top-seeded Bulls loss.
Indiana started its first round with an 81-77 home loss to Orlando as 9 ½-point favorites, but rebounded to win the next four (3-1 ATS). The team may lack superstars like Miami, but has very good balanced scoring and is much healthier than the decimated Knicks.
The Pacers went 1-3 SU and 2-2 ATS against Miami this year, losing both in South Beach (1-1 ATS), with one going into overtime.
Switching back to the Clippers, they could have ended things Friday night at home, but lost 90-88 as 2-point ‘dogs. The fourth-quarter rally was poetic justice for the Grizzlies after blowing a 27-point lead in a Game 1 home loss.
Los Angeles’ three wins have been by a total of six points. Injuries to Blake Griffin (knee) and Chris Paul (hip) were the big question heading into Game 6. The two combined for just 28 points, compared to 42.8 PPG in the first five, with Paul (11 points) looking like the more injured of the two.
Memphis big men Marc Gasol and Zach Randolph have really emerged the last two games and will be a key for Game 7.
The Grizzlies return home were they are 2-1 SU and 1-1-1 ATS this series. They should have won all three games if not for that Game 1 debacle. That will be on their minds heading into this showdown and they should advance to face San Antonio.
Note there is only one game on the official schedule for Monday, though a second contest is expected to be added. The Sixers and Celtics will play Game 2 of their series at 7:00 p.m. (ET) in Boston, with Saturday's series opener obviously still pending. The second Monday tilt that should be added will put the winner of the Lakers-Nuggets battle in Oklahoma City. The Thunder will be secretly rooting for Denver to be their opponent.