So far, two of the five road teams have stolen Game 2 of their NBA play-off first round series and three more sides – Houston, Atlanta and the Los Angeles Lakers - get a shot on Wednesday night to beat the odds and steal home advantage away.
The Lakers need much more scoring if they’re to draw level at 1-1 with San Antonio before the best of seven series goes back to LA and that’s something head coach Mike D’Antoni has spent extended time sorting, since their 91-79 loss to the Spurs on Sunday.
However, there’s still a king-sized gap without Kobe Bryant and in his absence, there isn’t a real alternative to break up the Spurs’ efficient system.
That really only leaves the option of forcing Dwight Howard and Pau Gasol to impact inside but San Antonio limited the bigs to just 36 combined points last time out despite never pulling out of fourth gear.
It’s not impossible that someone else steps up for Los Angeles but with Tony Parker, Manu Ginobili and Tim Duncan a proven troika, the hosts figure to have too much depth. Whether they’ll cover the handicap of -8.5 at 1.91 if it’s another slow-tempo game is questionable. But the Spurs, who are 1.18 to win, look impregnable in a game where the total points line is 187.5.
Houston got thrashed 120-91 by Oklahoma City in Game 1 and unless the Rockets radically improve, the Thunder should blow them out of town.
Jeremy Lin, Chandler Parsons and Omer Asik combined for only 22 points and James Harden shot just 31% against his former team.
The problem is that Houston don’t really have a Plan B to negate the combo of Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook. That spells trouble. OKC are -11.5 on the handicap and 1.09 favourites to go 2-0 up with the Rockets at 7.75 to pull out a shock.
Paul George picked up the NBA’s Most Improved Player award and now he’ll try to lead Indiana to a second win over Atlanta. The Pacers were 107-90 winners on Sunday and simply imposed themselves physically on the Hawks.
The visitors have some bodies to throw into the mix and although Indiana should prevail, have a look at Atlanta to cover the handicap of +7 at 1.91.
Best Bet: Go over the total points line of 187.5 in San Antonio-LA Lakers at 1.91
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