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NBA Playoffs: San Antonio’s Leonard to push past home-court Thunder

| 06.05.2016

Robbie Purves | May 6, 2016

Cleveland Cavaliers @ Atlanta Hawks

  • NBA Conference Semi-Finals
  • Saturday, May 7th
  • Tipoff: 00:00 BST
  • Phillips Arena, Atlanta

LeBron to launch Cavs into Conference Finals

Atlanta Hawks were buried alive under an avalanche of points during their 98-123 loss to Cleveland Cavaliers in the second game of the Eastern Conference Semi-Finals.

Kings Cavaliers Basketball

LeBron James’ Cavaliers netted 25 three-pointers, setting a new record for both a Playoff and regular season game. Cleveland averaged just 10.7 threes per match in the regular season, putting their incredible feat into perspective.

On Cavs record-breaking night, Atlanta’s Paul Millsap said: “What happened? Not a clue, a lot of threes… I don’t know what else to say. I am still speechless, I’m a man who believes anything is possible and the impossible happened tonight.”

Before the game Atlanta looked as though they would set up to slow down LeBron James and free up space for sharpshooting Kyle Korver. In reality, James finished with 27 points and Korver with a meagre seven.

Cavaliers totally dismantled the Hawks and remain flawless through the Playoffs with a 6-0 record and Coral have the team 3/1 to emerge as the NBA champions. However, Atlanta should be encouraged by their bench’s production. Kris Humphries, Thabo Sefolosha and Mike Muscala all registered double digits, and sets up an intriguing clash back in Atlanta.

The teams are 13/10 to amass a points total of over 204 and look set to do it after averaging 209 points per game this series.

San Antonio Spurs @ Oklahoma City Thunder

  • NBA Conference Semi-Finals
  • Saturday, May 7th
  • Tipoff: 02:30 BST
  • Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City

Leonard ready to rediscover All-Star form

San Antonio Spurs looked poised for a second series home win, but Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant had different ideas.

Spurs Mavericks Basketball

Oklahoma City Thunder withstood numerous Spurs runs and a hectic last quarter to upset the odds and collect an equalising series win. Westbrook scored 29 points, 10 assists and seven rebounds while Durant notched up 28 points.

LaMarcus Aldridge registered another colossal performance with 41 points, following up 38 in game one. Kawhi Leonard managed just 14 points and will need to support Aldridge if the Texan team hope to come out of this series victorious.

The old adage is that a series doesn’t start until the home team loses, and what a semi-final battle this matchup looks to be.

Spurs will fight back, veteran coach and five time NBA champion Gregg Popovich, will not let this happen again. After building a double digit lead in game one, they kept hammering and will need to rediscover this relentless attitude with Leonard rekindling his sensational regular season form. The small forward is 11/4 to score 22 or more in a San Antonio win that would see the side reclaim their series lead.

Toronto Raptors @ Miami Heat

  • NBA Conference Semi-Finals
  • Saturday, May 7th
  • Tipoff: 22:00 BST
  • American Airlines Arena, Miami

Miami’s home form to prove decisive

The best of seven series is level after Miami Heat and Toronto Raptors split overtime wins in Canada.

Hornets Heat Basketball

Heat failed to build upon there game one away win with a 96-92 defeat in the second encounter, a match in which they committed a truly horrendous 21 turnovers that led Raptors to 24 points. DeMarre Carroll scored 21 while Jonas Valanciunas recorded 15 points and 12 rebounds. Despite this, the momentum is definitely with Miami – taking a crucial away triumph back to Florida.

Erik Spoelstra’s Heat won three of four home clashes in the first round against Charlotte Hornets, after concluding the regular season with six straight home victories. Miami have only lost twice at the American Airlines Arena since February 24th and are 71-22 all-time in the playoffs at home.

The two teams have averaged 193 points throughout this series and are 27/20 to score over 192 points.

Golden State Warriors @ Portland Trail Blazers

  • NBA Conference Semi-Finals
  • Sunday, May 8th
  • Tipoff: 01:30 BST
  • Moda Center, Portland

Warriors big guns fire them to 3-0 lead

The defending NBA champions Golden State Warriors, are chasing a 3-0 advantage against Portland Trail Blazers and head to Oregon without the league’s MVP Steph Curry.

Trail Blazers Warriors Basketball

Warriors have been without their star for the entire series but Klay Thomspon and Draymond Green have softened the blow. Klay Thompson has scored a phenomenal 64 points in two games, with the guard in such great scoring form, there is no rush to bring back Curry and could realistically be rested until the Conference Finals.

Draymond Green remains a dominant force with 17 points and 14 rebounds and coach Steve Kerr should be buoyed by his team’s excellent production. Andre Iguodala, point guard Shaun Livingston, and forward Harrison Barnes chipped in 15, 14, and 13 points respectively.

Golden State have lost just one postseason clash and look like an unstoppable force. Blazers nearly tied the second round in game two but saw a 11 point fourth quarter lead evaporate en route to a nine point loss.

The teams have averaged over 216 points per game over this series and are 8/5 to reach a total of over 217 points this weekend.


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Robbie Purves