The San Antonio Spurs and Portland Trailblazers return home down 3-1 in their respective series. Each has had moments to seize the opportunity to even up the series and failed. Now it is "play it one game at a time" mode, which is really the only way to a
The San Antonio Spurs and Portland Trailblazers return home down 3-1 in their respective series. Each has had moments to seize the opportunity to even up the series and failed. Now it is "play it one game at a time" mode, which is really the only way to approach this since trying to think to far ahead could take the focus off today. Both teams will have to bring the energy and put the ball in the basket with far greater regularity. As favorites of 5-points or more, San Antonio and Portland are in favorable positions as far as oddsmakers' are concerned. See where bettors are placing their money on these pointspreads on the BETTING TRENDS page.
Since Tim Duncan's (when healthy-2000 sat out playoffs with torn cartilage in his knee) arrival, San Antonio has never lost a first round playoff series. Having to win two games just to even series, let alone entertain thoughts of advancing is a daunting task.
"We haven't been in that position very often," coach Greg Popovich said Monday. "It is what it is. You just play the games and deal with it."
The loss of Manu Ginobili is proving too much to overcome. No dependable third scoring option has emerged, leaving what seem to be endless periods of no baskets being made. Sportsbook.com has the Spurs as five-point home favorites (down from opening six), with total of 189.5. San Antonio is 19-7-2 ATS as playoff favorites and are going to have to find a way or a group of players that can reach double digits beside Duncan and Tony Parker. The Spurs duo scored 75.5 percent of the points in Game 4, while the rest of the teams combined to shoot 21.4 percent.
Dallas has now won 11 of last 14 (9-5 ATS) and would like to finish off this wounded animal before they can gather themselves and possibly find out answers. The Mavericks are 16-5 ATS as postseason underdogs and have covered 10 of 13 in southwest Texas.
In the Great Northwest, talent matters, but youth and inexperience are often deadly elixir in the NBA playoffs. Portland outplayed Houston in the second half of Game 3 before succumbing and led for long periods of Game 4. The Blazers held the Rockets to 39.8 percent shooting on last contest, but were done in at crunch time.
Portland committed seven turnovers in the last 12 minutes and gave up 10 offensive rebounds (16 in all) in the final stanza. That ended up giving Houston 13 more shots for the game, which allowed them to overcome deficit.
"Guys are down about (the three losses), but the important thing is (that) we don't want anybody to feel we're not getting better," Brandon Roy said. "We know our backs are to the wall. It's a one-game-or-done for us. We're going to need to take that approach into (Tuesday's) game."
The Blazers are 29-12 ATS in home games after a game where they covered the spread and need to have more watchful eye on deadly shooters at critical junctures. Shane Battier buried two massive three's in the fourth quarter and Yao Ming was unstoppable when he got the ball in the paint. Portland has to do a better a job of checking out their man and playing as a team, instead of somebody trying to make "hero" plays as young players will do.
Houston is a 5.5-point underdog, with a total of 182, placing them in extremely comfortable spot with 17-6 ATS record in a road game when the total is between 180 and 184.5 points. The Rockets are also 6-1 ATS as playoff dogs of 5 to 10-points. The road team is perfect 4-0 ATS in this series.
Spoke to handicapper Tom Freese of House of Sports.com about his thoughts tonight. "I could see Portland forcing a Game 6 in front of their great home fans. As for the Spurs, with Duncan's balky knees and no Ginobili, I must side with Dallas."
San Antonio tips off at 9:35 Eastern on NBA-TV and Portland commences at 7:05 Pacific on TNT. Both teams will look to overcome one and done and force a Game 6.
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