Memphis and Milwaukee stay home for the first time in these NBA Play-offs on Thursday night but for both teams, it is realistically win or bust. Down 2-0 in their first round series, history has taught us that no side has ever fallen into a 3-0 deficit and then rallied to advance into the next round.
The Grizzlies were left a little frustrated on Monday when, having restricted the Los Angeles Clippers over the first 47 minutes and 59 seconds, they were undone at the last, when Chris Paul came up at the death to clinch a 93-91 win for the hosts.
Paul has averaged 23.5 points in this series so far, but a big part of LA’s success has been the way they’ve succeeded despite Memphis controlling the tempo. That might prove harder back in Tennessee but Marc Gasol, the Defensive Player of the Year, and Zach Randolph also need to have more of an impact at the other end of the court.
You’d expect the Grizzlies to make the next two games a grind to maximise their chances. If they can keep the total points under the line of 180, they should win. But if not, the Clippers shooters can push their side to the cusp of the West semi-finals. LA are 2.57 to prevail.
Chicago stole homecourt advantage with their 90-82 victory in Brooklyn two days ago and they’re -4 on the handicap at 1.91 to claim a 2-1 lead in this series.
The Nets were too stagnant and their three-point shooting was woeful, playing straight into the hands of the Bulls, with Deron Williams making only one field goal and eight points in total.
More of the same, especially if Joe Johnson doesn’t pass a late fitness call, and Brooklyn will struggle. Joakim Noah was able to provide 25 minutes, a huge help, and the Bulls defence is good enough to keep the total points under 181, available at 1.91.
Milwaukee, even at home, are 3.85 to open their account against Miami. All signs point towards a clean sweep in this series and the Heat are a generous -7.5 on the handicap.
Best Bet: Go under the total points line of 180 in the Memphis v LA Clippers game at 1.91
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