JAZZ @ CLIPPERS: THE BIG ONE! GAME 7!!!! Everything you need to know to bring home bacon!

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Record: 26-25

2017 Playoffs: 8-1 (is this a dream that after the worst run of my covers life starting the year we can cap 90% in the first round? I hope so).

We've capped this series as well as possible. 3 games won out of 6 and all games were ATS winners.

Now we get the last game. More important than all the rest but the same subterranean themes that have been evolved game in and game out are coming to fruition here.

And that theme is this: Now that it is game 7, the Clippers have made the necessary adjustments to win, and can do it in the place they fought tooth and nail for...home court.

Home court matters. Home court matters THE MOST in the NBA in a GAME 7 with the home team winning over 80% of the time.

That is very strong. About as strong a trend as you can find. There is no ATS number there because each game 7 is different. 

But the Clippers did everything they could to get to this very game in the first round, knowing full well the mix of youth and veteran presence could sink them in this series, UNLESS they positioned themselves to get home court in the final game of the series.

And that they did. With identical records with the Jazz. That matters. That puts the Jazz in a very tight spot, particularly for a franchise who last won a playoff series in 2010. 

That history matters. As does the Clippers history. Round 1's and Game 7's are like regular season games to this core at this point. Win and advance. That is all that is on their mind.

For the Jazz? They have to be tight. To have the close-out game on your home court and to blow it. They never really were a threat to win that game. Only a final burst game the Jazz a glimpse of the next round and JJ, for all his brilliance in this series, couldn't hit the final prayer to tie it.

All the pressure is on the Jazz here folks. I could see the Clips coming out playing fast and loose. It will be neck and neck but the classic scenario is once the home team gains a strangle-hold late, they close the door. If the Jazz do not hit a single buzz-beater in Game 1, this series is actually over. The Clippers for all their ups and downs have been the slightly better team and now can come home to close it out.

What do they have?

1. Chris Paul

Oh, Scal is telling me that the Clips have Chris Paul. Thanks Captain Obvious.

No. He is playing on another level. That level is so high, it makes up for a large percentage of Blake, our primary worry.

Regular season? 18pts 9.2 assists 48% Shooting 41% from 3.

This series? 27 points, 10 assists, 53% shooting 42% from 3.

This is a league of STARS. We know this. That is why only a handful of teams win the NBA title over the course of DECADES.

When you have star production like this, you have power. Even when you lose one of your stars. Because production like this flows through the entire team, aiding them, inspiring them, propelling them to victory.

 2. Pain and anguish

A history of pain in the playoffs matters. And the Clippers, for all their evident talent, probably have the WORST resume with this core.

2014- Blew a 16 point lead to OKC in Game 6 and lost the series. This after a boneheaded turnover by Paul in Game 5 to gift OKC the win.

2015- 3-1 lead on the Rockets. An insurmountable lead in Game 6. A loss in that game then a blowout in game 7. This after creating what appeared to be a clear path to the finals after beating the Spurs in a thriller in the first round.

2016- Blake and Paul go down within minutes of each other and the Clips lose to a major underdog in the Blazers. Like the hand of god willed them to lose if you watched it happen live. Surreal. They needed Austin Rivers, who looked like Jerry Cooney after one round with Grillmaster George Foreman, and some duct tape and chicken wire to crawl right to the finish line only to fall short.

There were others even before that. Blake going down against Memphis after being up 2-0 in 2012.

All of this history matters? Oh yes.

Particularly when the team can most certainly be disbanded, long-term contracts for Blake and CP3 and possibly JJ on the horizon, making the bench even more shorthanded.

Why does it matter? This core has seen it all, experienced it all, and even if they haven't (guys like Mo Speights) you can almost sense they feel. it.


 
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3. Clippers Adjustments

Remember I said the Clippers had to stop giving the Jazz open shots and particularly open threes?

Well when I watched that game last night, it was a whole new perimeter defense. That is very important. Because that is what has gotten the Jazz to a Game 7. They were getting tons of open shots against an undersized and Blakeless Clips lineup and were taking advantage of it.

Last night I saw ferocious perimeter D, particularly from Austin Rivers, and that really, when all was said and done, was the key to the Clips victory. And they needed every D up on every possession given that 7-0 flurry to end the game.

Credit Doc and the assistant coaches for recognizing this is remedying it in the biggest game of the year. You don't think they will be even more intense in a game even bigger at home?? I don't want to say the problem is solved, but for one night, I saw them play D that had me feeling comfortable at the end of the first half they'd bring my bet home, and they did.

4. Austin Rivers

He matters. He played FULL STARTERS MINUTES. 5-10, 3-7 from 3, and 13 points. And tenacious Defense, his best asset.

This was like a dream come true for Doc, not because it was his son, but because after Game 4 he said he was just looking for 'warm bodies'.

5. Mo Speights

Count on Charles Barkley to get a players engine revving.

He called him out at the half of Game 5, when he had a single point and no rebounds.

Tonight in his bounceback game after being publicly shamed to millions in the worst way with the worst guy?

4-6 for 9 points in the first half. Doc kept the hot Speights on the bench for almost the entire second half. Why? Defensively Rivers was playing too well and chipping in on offense. That's a good problem to have. All 9 points were crucial and if we need bench production, we should be able to count on it (Doc will almost certainly start Rivers again over Mo).

There are other quick-fire footnotes of interest:

1. Gobert - First the knee. Then the ankle. That's a lot of wear and tear. He'll play Game 7 as X-rays were negative. OF COURSE he will. This is it. I won't depend on the injury but after he reentered the game at the 7:30 mark of the 4th he had 1 pt, 1 block and 1 PF and Jordan outrebounded him 5-0.

2. Joe Johnson - 9 pts on 3-9 shooting. 9 pts is his season average. He was average 18 on 53% shooting in this series. We can count on Paul with the Clips, but as a Jazz backer, do you have full faith in JJ here to give you 18 again? That's asking a lot. It's an unknown when the Clippers have the known.

3. Golden State - I love that the Warriors are waiting on the horizon. For as much as the Clips know they'll go into that series shorthanded, they are a mere another KD injury away from stealing a game or 2 there with intensity and unabashed hatred to make it close. Win or lose, the fact they can throw a punch if they finish off the Jazz matters. I think you want them. These egomaniacs want to play the best even if it's like walking into a furnace with a suit full of matches.

4. Gobert's frustration - If you watched the game, he slammed the ball to the court when the Clips took a 29-27 lead. He is a very moody player and called out his team this year. That call-out shamed the Jazz into a late run to end the season. But that act gets old when the guy next to you makes $100 million plus. And I can see glimpses of Rudy's frustration on the court. This is different than the fire CP3 showed in the press conference last game when he chided a reporter for asking them if they'd come back home for game 7 or lose game 6.

5. The Clippers won on the road in an intense environment even WITH Reddick chipping in only FOUR points on 1-4 shooting and Pierce giving only 3 and playing a whopping TWENTY minutes.

Wow. If either player gives a bit more in game 7, it should results in a win and a cover.

We know what the Jazz have to offer. We know the talent. We know Quinn Snyder is a good, young coach.

But we also know what is at stake here for the Clips. We know the players know this franchise is at stake. The fans know it and should be raucous in support trying to avoid yet another playoff embarrassment perhaps their last as this team dissolves. Or do they have ONE more run to get the Warriors and get a win against them at home (which would mean a lot to them) and break that losing streak. It's only appropriate the Warriors are the ones to make the Clippers fall on their sword.

And Doc. You can see it in his eyes. So please. The sweat has turned to smiles. A happy Doc is a good Doc for a Clips backers.

Let's hope Doc keeps smiling after Game 7 in front of the microphone.

I have to buy this down a .5 point. We won the Wizards series +111 so you have some extra pocket change. It could go to 3 so you won't have to wait for .5 points.

Yes points matter in this series so laying 3 is a bit of a concern as the average margin of victory has been 5. But 3 is not 6 like the Jazz were giving the last game. 3 is a different number. Not crazy about the number and the books are right to make us work for this line. Nice line bookies. I capped it to overcome this line. They are going to make us work for it with this spread but when do they not.

There is one little footnote. This is 12:30 start on the West Coast and that throws things off a bit so let's keep this around a medium-sized bet. It's just something you have to deal with on a Sunday start in the playoffs.

I see a close game. A back and forth and then late in the 4th CP3 brings it home with some big shots. Finally the Clips and their fans get something to smile about in the playoffs when everyone thought they were dead and gone when Blake went down.

Final footnote: I also want to note I have some bad luck with series bets. So I saw the Jazz +245 AFTER Blake went down in Game 3. Clippers were -290. I was thinking "Wow! The books will pay out 2.5 to 1 for the Jazz after they tie it up 2-2?" That's a boatload. So I think there is some sly bookmaking here. I can't see that +245 paying off (yes the books know a bit more than me to set that line like that I think). Yes, we have to deal with 3 here but in a Game 7 at home with all of the above, I'll play it.

The pick:

CLIPPERS -3 (-120)  over Jazz

 
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Record: 27-27

2017 Playoff Record: 8-2

The Pick:

Raptors +7 over Cavs.

That is not me skewing the line. I have not put the bet in yet. I am waiting for 7 because I think it will get there.

Why? Because I think the public got the bejesus scared out of them when they saw the Raps blow a 25 point lead in 12 minutes (and against a 'lowly' Bucks team who is far better than they think). There is no way the Raps will be public favorites here. As tip-off approaches it should get there and if it doesn't I'll spend the -120.

I'll make this quick.

You know how I love fading streaks.

The Raptors have a terrible Game 1 record. In fact, it's so bad, they've never covered one with this core. Starting in 2014 vs. the Nets (the core being Lowry, Derozan and Jonas- Jonas downgraded to a bench player for Powell at times), the Raps are a whopping:

0-6 SU and ATS in Game 1's.

Go look it up.

I hate that. I that that this team continually digs itself a hole which explains why they've only won 2 series with this core.

And that may be my death knell. You have the Cavs coming off significant rest and they may be able to blow out the Raps in a game that the Raps core has demonstrated continually they can't win or cover.


The PROBLEM for the Cavs bettors is the points here. They are significant. 7 (when it gets there is a key number). The Cavs will need to blow the Raps out to cover this number. (Have 12-15 point lead and then the Raps will eventually eat into that an the Cavs close it at 10-12 pt win).

Can the Cavs do that?

Well there are reasons against that.

1. Bob Dole

He ran for President in 1996 vs. Slick Willy. All I heard was two words from prospective voters: He's old.

It reminded me of OKC vs. the Spurs last year when OKC bombed them to eliminate them and BegginerBoy boiled down an extensive cap to the same two words, "They're (Spurs) old".

The Cavs are old and slow footed, particularly on the bench. Deron (on the outs in this league despite contributing something in the first round), Korver, Richard Jefferson!

The Raptors bench of Patterson, Tucker, Jonas (or Powell depending on who sits), Joseph and Wright is a DREAM compared to this.

That leads to my next point.

2. Lebron averaged 44 minutes in the first round.

The most among any player. And he delivered 33, 9, 9. BUT his minutes are a clear indication the Cavs have nothing to lean on beyond him. They are deficient in a bench they should have shorn up. They tried to but having Lebron play almost a full 48 is not a winning formula. He needs rest, particularly as a series wears on and as defensive assignments toughen, and they will here.

3. The Defense...is terrible.

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