Pacers Face Must-Win in Game Four

Allen
Allen
Ray Allen got hot when the Heat needed him most in game three.

The Miami Heat took a 2-1 lead on Saturday night and perhaps more than that, they look like they suddenly have as much control over the Pacers as they have in a long time. Tonight, as we honor America’s veterans, the Heat will look to take a very commanding 3-1 lead. I’m going to touch on game three a bit because it leads into what has to happen for the Pacers to draw even. Let’s get to it.

Indiana at Miami (-6.5), Heat Leads 2-1 – The Miami Heat found themselves in an early hole in game three but turned it around quickly behind the veteran play of LeBron James, Dwyane Wade and Ray Allen. Miami trailed by 15 points in the first half before turning it up a notch at both ends of the court. For the Pacers, it was yet another installment of “losing to the Heat when the chips are down.”

The Pacers’ Paul George scored 17 points on 5 for 13 shooting in his return from a concussion suffered in game two. He was the team’s leading scorer as once again the Pacers were outscored in the paint by Miami 40-38. Frankly, this just shouldn’t be happening. Although Roy Hibbert has played better since his disappearing act through the first series and half, he still is not nearly as dominant as he should be.

Vogel has to be better with this in-game adjustments tonight.My other concern for the Pacers now is the fact that Frank Vogel is being outcoached at almost every turn. His team seems to start well but when in-game adjustments are necessary, he is losing the battle to Heat Coach Erik Spoelstra. Arguments could easily be made that the talent Spoelstra is dealing with is better but that isn’t the point here.

Indiana is more than capable of winning this series but the adjustments just aren’t happening. Both Hibbert and David West were -21 in game three which tells me that both, and especially Hibbert were on the floor too long. Vogel has to recognize things sooner. Miami went to an incredibly small line-up which was having success and Vogel waited far too long adapt. Game three was not the first time this happened either.

If you’re looking for an X-factor for Indiana it has to be Luis Scola. The problem is that Frank Vogel has to allow Scola to stay on the court. He was a big factor in the first half of game three but then disappeared in the second half and I don’t necessarily blame him for that. Vogel has to keep the hot-hand on the floor.

I had Indiana winning this series in seven games and while that is still possible, I have lost a tremendous amount faith in their ability to do so. The Heat have shot over 50% in all three games of this series and that’s against a Pacers’ team that arguably is the best defensive team in the NBA. Indiana can ultimately pick things up on the offensive end of the court if they pick up the D first.

This is the ultimatum game for me and Indiana. I expect their best effort this evening so take them getting the points and I also like the UNDER this evening as well.

 

 

Keep an eye on… Indiana is 8-17 against the spread in its last 25 games on the road… Miami is 5-0 straight up in its last 5 games when playing at home against Indiana… Indiana is 1-4 against the spread in its last five games when playing Miami… The total has gone OVER in seven of Miami’s last nine games when playing at home against Indiana… O/U is 183.5

Heat Are 6.5 Chalk at Home versus Pacers

The NBA playoffs tip off Monday night from south Florida when the Miami Heat hosts the Indiana Pacers in Game 4 of their best of seven Eastern Conference finals series.

Indiana let a great opportunity to win home court advantage back getaway on Saturday. Tonight the Pacers need a win to tie the series or they will fall behind 3-1 and be on the brink of elimination.

Indiana led Game 3 early opening up a lead of 19-5 during the first quarter of play. However, the rest of the way, the Pacers were outscored by 24 points and lost by 10.

Miami has been outrebounded by Indiana as the Pacers are a superior rebounding team, but in Game 3, the teams tied with 29 rebounds apiece. Miami also was the leader in points in the paint with 40 to Indiana’s 38.

In this head-to-head series, Miami is 16-11 SU and 14-13 ATS over the past three seasons. At home, the Heat has been a dominating force in the head-to-head series with a record of 16-3 SU and 12-7 ATS.

Nevertheless, according to data from Bovada and betonline, the Pacers on the road this year are 26-22 SU and 22-26 ATS.

According to information gleaned from topbet and sporstbook.com, Indiana is 31-17 ATS following a road loss over the past two seasons.

This season Miami is just 22-24-1 ATS playing at home, but a strong 38-9 SU.

While Miami is just an average 32-35-3 against the number on less than two full days of rest this year, the Heat is 10-2 against the spread playing five games or less over a span of 14 days.

In this series, Indiana is averaging 92.3 points per game. In the regular season, Indiana averaged 97 points per game.

All five Indiana starters are scoring at least 12 points per game with Paul George leading the team with 18 points, 6 assists and 4 rebounds per game.

Miami was great offensively this season with 102.2 points per game average. However, with the tough Indiana defense, Miami is scoring just 94 points per game.

Both LeBron James and Dwayne Wade are averaging 24 points per game in the series, with both scoring 73 points over the three games.

The Pacers have had a tough time holding onto leads and closing out Miami late in the game. If the games were just three periods, the Pacers might be 3-0 in the series.

Nevertheless, the Pacers are down 2-1 thanks to falling apart in the fourth quarter in Games 1 and 2.

Pick: Indiana will show they belong. I like the Pacers 98-91.

Can Ibaka Play?… And Roger Goodell Faces Serious Decisions With Discipline

Ibaka
Ibaka
Serge Ibaka wants to play, but what affect can he have if still less than 100%?

San Antonio Spurs’ Head Coach Gregg Popovich has been pretty insistent about his thinking regarding Oklahoma City’s Serge Ibaka. Popovich has said all along that he thinks the Thunder’ big man will return before the end of this series. It now looks like Popovich has been right all along.

Although Ibaka has yet to be cleared by team doctors, he said as of last evening that he’d be willing to play through the pain. As courageous as this sounds, Ibaka has not even run on his strained calf since injuring it in game six against the Los Angeles Clippers. To say that Ibaka would be less than 100% would be an understatement and one has to wonder just how effective he can even be.

The irony of the situation is that Oklahoma City desperately needs him to be in the game. The Spurs have dominated the Thunder in the first two games of the Western Conference Finals and in large part due to the absence of Ibaka in the paint. Regardless of Ibaka’s presence I think this series belongs to the Spurs.

Jim Irsay's punishment will be a major issue for Roger Goodell.Ravens, Roger Goodell and What to do with Jim Irsay

Ever since the time that the Baltimore Ravens made Ozzie Newsome their general manager, they have done about as many things right as any team in the National Football League. On Friday, those good choices and decisions were tarnished by seven minute press conference.

Ravens’ star running back Ray Rice addressed the media for the first time since he was arrested for knocking out his then-fiance in the elevator of a casino. Rice was accompanied by his now-wife and their infant child. Rice gave his apology for his actions and said that he was working towards being a better a person, husband and father.

Part of the problem for the Ravens was the cliche-filled comments by Rice but also the lack of questions allowed by the media. With the incident having happened in February, the media deserved to ask questions but they were not. Also scarring the image of the Ravens was the person in charge of the organization’s Twitter account.

For who knows why, the Ravens decided that ‘live-tweeting’ the Rice press conference would be a good idea. All they did was set domestic violence awareness back about 25 years with a series of bizarre and poorly worded tweets. The early speculation on Rice’s punishment is that the league and Roger Goodell will come down with a suspension that starts at a minimum of three games.

Since Goodell became Commissioner his main focus has been “protecting the shield” and limiting ‘conduct detrimental to the League.’ Goodell has painted himself in a corner in this regard because five years ago he suspended Ben Roethlisberger despite never being arrested and never being charged. Goodell claimed his behavior was ‘conduct detrimental to the League.’

Goodell’s problems don’t end there though because now he has to punish one of the very men who helps pay his salary. Although Jim Irsay’s crimes were reduced last week, Goodell still has to take action. Irsay was arrested for numerous offenses including having prescription drugs that weren’t his and we all know if this were a player, the penalty would be harsh.

If Roger Goodell is going to suspend a player (Josh Gordon) for a year due to marijuana use, then how does he not come down equally as hard on a player like Rice who has struck a woman. Furthermore, what will Goodell do with Jim Irsay? Fining him really doesn’t do much considering his wealth and suspending him probably doesn’t do much either.

My suggestion? Hit him where it really hurts; take away draft choices.

Rangers and Canadians Coming to a Boiling Point

The NHL Eastern Conference Finals best of seven series continues tonight from the Big Apple when the New York Rangers host the Montreal Canadians. The Rangers lead the series 2-1 heading into Game 4, but Montreal is coming off a big win in Game 3.

The two teams are not happy with one another as the Canadians head coach Michel Therrien has his problems with Ulf Samuelsson the assistant coach for the Rangers. At the same time, New York is angry with Brandon Prust the right wing for Montreal and Scott Driscoll a linesman.

Bovada, topbet, betonline and sportsbooks.com have all the last odds, trends, player and team information so the best possible wager can be made on this game or any other sporting event.

Therrien is not pleased that Samuelsson was watching some of Montreal’s practice Saturday at Madison Square Garden. He contended that Samuelsson had violated a coaches’ gentlemen’s agreement.

Between games, coaches cannot attend practices but on game day, that is different, said Therrien.

New York is upset that Derek Stepan the center on their top line will not play after having surgery on Friday to repair a fractured jaw after Stepan was hit by Prust on the open-ice during Game 3.

Alain Vigneault the New York coach said it was unlikely his center would play on Sunday.

However, New York will have Derick Brassard their center on the third line. Brassard has been out since taking a heavy check during Game 1.

Both teams are shorthanded as Prust and Daniel Carcillo a Rangers left wing, were suspended for their action in the previous game.

Prust is out for the late hit on Stepan and says that it was his fault. Prust said he and Stepan exchanged text messages and Prust expressed remorse after hearing about Stepan’s broken jaw.

Carcillo on the other hand could miss the rest of the postseason after being suspended for 10 games due to physical abuse of an official on-ice.

Carcillo, while a fight was taking place, elbowed Driscoll when the linesman was taking him to the penalty box. The elbow hit Driscoll in his face.

It is unclear if the Rangers will appeal the Carcillo suspension. If they do appeal it, it would go through the NHL players’ union. He can submit an appeal up to 72 hours after the ruling.

Coach Vigneault is upset that Carcillo is facing the suspension because he said the player had not committed a penalty and should not have been escorted to the penalty box by Driscoll.

However, Vigneault knows nothing can be done about the situation and the team has to move on without Carcillo for the rest of this series and likely through all the Stanley Cup Finals if they reach that point.

Key Game Three Set for South Beach

George
George
Paul George has been cleared to play but how many minutes can we expect out of him in game three?

Game Three of the Eastern Conference Finals is here so let’s get to it.

Indiana at Miami (-7), Series Tied 1-1 – The first bit of news we need to address from the Eastern Conference Finals is that as of last night, Indiana star Paul George has been cleared to play. If you’ll recall, George took a sot to the back of the head in game two and was diagnosed with a concussion following the Pacers’ loss.

For him to have been cleared, that means he passed all of his post-concussion protocols. Keep in mind that these are not nearly as strenuous as the those in the National Football League but he must have passed them nevertheless. What we must still concern ourselves with in the wagering community however is how much can we expect him to actually play?

I have every reason to believe he’ll be fine and play his normal minutes but unfortunately we won’t really know the answer to that until the game is underway. My advice is proceed as normal as Head Coach Frank Vogel gives an indication on way or another.

Andersen
'Birdman' Andersen was a huge factor in game two. Will that continue tonight?

On any team that has superstars like the Miami Heat do, there are always lesser players who do the dirty work necessary for the superstars and the team to survive. Both the 1990’s Detroit Pistons and Chicago Bulls had Dennis Rodman and the old showtime Lakers had Kurt Rambis. The Heat have several guys who we could possibly label in the same category but Chris ‘Birdman’ Andersen fits better than all of the others.

The tattooed one played 29 minutes in game two off the bench and had just three points but that isn’t the story. He added 12 rebounds (10 defensive), an assist and a block to help LeBron James and Dwyane Wade take the game over late. Perhaps the most impressive number was his +25 while on the court. That number alone speaks volumes of just how important he is to the Heat’s success.

The +25 was a far cry from the +3 Andersen had in game one but even that ranked among the best for all the Heat players. Ultimately, will his play once again dictate whether the Heat win or lose? That’s for you to decide.

Indiana’s advantage going into this series was the size in the paint. Andersen certainly limited that with his rebounding in game two but if the Pacers are truly going to win this series they must have a greater advantage in the front-court. In game two, the Pacers defeated Miami 36-32 in points in the paint.

Shockingly, that was actually an improvement over game one where the Heat outscored the Pacers 54-38. Obviously Indiana still won but as I said, this trend cannot continue. David West has to be better than the 5 for 16 shooting he displayed in game two and Roy Hibbert has to be more of a scoring threat inside as well.

Game three is always a pivotal point in any series and most people love the Heat in this game as they return home with the split they wanted. My thinking is that Paul George will be fine and that, coinciding with the Pacers’ great road record in the playoffs this season has me taking them tonight getting seven huge points.

Take the UNDER tonight as well because I believe the two teams will start deploying tougher defense as the series goes on.

Keep an eye on…. Indiana is 1-7 straight up in its last eight games when playing on the road against Miami… Miami is 5-0 straight up in its last five games at home… Indiana is 8-16 against the spread in its last 24 games on the road… The total has gone OVER in four of Miami’s last five games and tonight’s O/U is 183.

Champions League Final: The Battle of Madrid

The final of the Champions League will be played on Saturday at the Estadio de Luz in Lisbon, Portugal to determine the top European Professional Soccer club.

History is set to be made in this match as it is the first time in Champions League history that the two sides competing for the title are from the same city.

Real Madrid will face La Liga and cross-town rivals Atletico Madrid in Saturday’s final.

Real is looking for its 10th European Cup title and the biggest club in the world is the favorite on Bovada and topbet at -110.

However, standing in Real’s way is Atletico the newly crowned La Liga champions in Spain. This is just their second trip to the final of a European Cup and their first in 40 years.

However, the club is full of confidence and bookmakers such as betonline and sportsbook.com have them at +330 to win. A draw is sitting on +240.

This is just the first time the two have battled for a European Cup, but they have met on four occasions this season. The two played head to head twice in league action and twice during the Copa del Rey.

Atletico defeated Real 1-0 at Real’s famed Bernabeu and the two recorded a draw 2-2 at Calderon the home pitch for Atletico during La Liga action.

In Copa del Rey action, Real was able to defeat Atletico 5-0 on aggregate.

The match on Saturday should be very tight and both sides have key players missing.

Bookmakers are expecting a tight low-scoring match with the UNDER on 2.5 at -135, while 3 or more goals is sitting on +115.

A host of different props are offered online with Bovada, topbet, betonline and sportsbook.com including the total goals in the first half at 1 with the UNDER sitting on -135.

Both sides are aware of one another and each is aware of what it needs to do to eliminate or lower the threat posed by its opponent.

A great deal of pressure is on Real’s manager Carlo Ancelotti to win this match. Real has not won a European Cup since 2002. The club finished third in league action this season. If the Italian cannot win this match, it is likely he will not manage for the club in the next campaign.

Real Madrid was given good news that both Gareth Bale and Cristiano Ronaldo were fit to play. However, midfielder Xabi Alonso will miss out due to a suspension and defender Pepe likely will not play due to an injury.

For Atletico, Diego Costa their high scoring striker is doubtful, while Arda Turan the team’s tough midfielder is also a doubt for the match.

I like a close low scoring match with Real Madrid winning 1-0.

Cuban, Fielder and Donovan Are My Talking Points Today

Cuban
Cuban
Mark Cuban is no stranger to controversy and he has found it once again.

Mark Cuban isn’t dumb. You don’t just stumble into being a billionaire unless you’re Paris Hilton and the only talent you have is your last name. A month after Los Angeles Clippers’ owner Donald Sterling set the world on fire with his racist and insensitive comments, Cuban now finds himself in a similar situation.

The Dallas Mavericks’ owner was speaking in Nashville, Tennessee when he said “We’re all prejudiced in one way or the other. If I see a black kid in a hoodie and it’s late at night, I’m walking to the other side of the street. And if on that side of the street, there’s a guy that has tattoos all over his face — white guy, bald head, tattoos everywhere — I’m walking back to the other side of the street. And the list goes on of stereotypes that we all live up to and are fearful of.

I’m not going to get into whether Cuban is right or wrong in his comments but I can say his analogy of a ‘black kid in a hoodie’  was about as untimely and insensitive as it gets.

Cuban spent most of his day Thursday defending himself on Twitter and did eventually issue an apology to the family of Trayvon Martin, the young man shot and killed in large part because of his hoodie.

If read the entirety of Cuban’s comments, I feel like they come off less inappropriate than many are making them out to be but Cuban has to have better judgment than that especially coming off the Sterling controversy. Sometimes the less said the better.

Fielder
Fielder is likely done for the season as the Rangers' season slides out of control.

Fielder Out for the Season?

Detroit Tigers’ General Manage Dave Dombrowski has pulled the trigger on some pretty impressive trades in his time as the GM in the Motor City but perhaps one of his most important was this past offseason when dealt Prince Fielder to the Texas Rangers for second baseman Ian Kinsler.

Fielder will get a second opinion this coming week about his neck but as of right now he will be facing season-ending surgery. Perhaps somewhat surprisingly, this will be Fielder’s first stint on the Disabled List in his 10-year career. Over that span he has missed just 13 games which considering his size and the violence with which he swings is pretty incredible.

For the Rangers, the season is now spiraling out of control. They’ve fallen well off the pace in the American League West as the Oakland A’s have pretty much pulled away from the AL West field. Now with Fielder likely down for the season and Jurickson Profar scheduled to miss another 2-3 months, I don’t anticipate much noise coming from Arlington the rest of the season.

Donovan Not on Final 23 Roster

I’m the furthest thing from a soccer guy that there is but even I understand the situation regarding Landon Donovan. As the game continues to try and gain a foothold in the United States, the US Mens’ National Team will enter the 2014 World Cup without its’ most recognizable player.

US Manager Jurgen Klinsmann called the decision one of the more difficult of his career and that appears to be an understatement. Most experts believe that a poor showing by the team will likely spell the end of Klinsmann. Despite being 32 years old, Donovan is the all-time leader in World Cup goals and games played and would have served as a solid leader but Klinsmann chose to go into another direction.

Donovan handled the situation with maturity and genuine respect saying he’d still be cheering for his friends and teammates. For the sake of Klinsmann, let’s hope he has a lot to cheer about.

NBA Conference Finals Game 3 Lines and Championship Futures

The four teams left in the NBA playoffs are enjoying some much deserved rest with each having three full days of rest before embarking on Game 3 in their respective conference finals.

Paul George the leading scorer for the Indiana Pacers is questionable for Game 3 in the Eastern Conference finals due to a concussion.

The current line on the Miami vs. Indiana game is now sitting on Miami -7 on Bovada and sportsbook.com.

If that number is able to hold, it will be the biggest spread Miami has had to lay versus Indiana all season. However, the status of George is huge. Last season there were spreads on topbet and betonline as big as 8.5 for the Heat during the conference finals.

During this past regular season, the Heat was 2-0 straight up and 1-1 against the spread at home versus Indiana as a favorite of 4 and 5.5 points.

The scheduling of the playoff series, with the three days off, will be more beneficial to Indiana. The Pacers also have starters David West, Roy Hibbert and Lance Stephenson suffering from injuries.

The point total for Game 3 opened at 182.5 and has stayed there or gone up or down a half point.

With the series tied 1-1 heading to south Florida, bookmakers have released updated prices on the series with Miami at -410 and Indiana +335.

Out west, the Oklahoma City Thunder finds themselves in a big hole. Some handicappers will figure that the Thunder will come back strong from their humiliating 35-point loss in Game 2 against the San Antonio Spurs.

The Thunder now trail in the series 2-0 and have been dominated by the Spurs in both games.

Nevertheless, line makers have opened with the Thunder -2 as the favorite at home. This past season at home, Oklahoma City covered spreads against the Spurs of -2.5 and -4. However, the 4-game regular season sweep the Thunder enjoyed is long forgotten following the first two games of this series.

Currently San Antonio is sitting on -1200 with Oklahoma City at +750 for the series.

Before writing off the Thunder, one must remember they trailed 0-2 in 2012 to the Spurs and ran off 4 straight wins. However, this season they do not have Serge Ibaka due to injury and James Harden who was traded to Houston last season.

Game 3 was opened with a point total of 208, which is similar to the first two games of the series. Game 1 was OVER and Game 2 was UNDER.

New NBA Championship Future

San Antonio Spurs 4 to 5

Miami Heat 13 to 10

Indiana Pacers 14 to 1

Oklahoma City Thunder 15 to 1

NHL Eastern Conference Finals on Tap This Evening

Lundqvist
Lundqvist
Henrik Lunqvist rescued the Rangers against Pittsburgh and is leading his team once again against the Canadiens.

I have not been a very good friend to a sport I really do love quite a bit and played as a child but my focus is solely on it today.

With the National Basketball Association taking a couple of days off, I’m turning my attention to pucks. The National Hockey League is already in the Conference Finals’ phase with Los Angeles and Chicago dueling out West.

In the Eastern Conference, we have the Montreal Canadiens and the New York Rangers. Montreal is trying to break a dubious mark that haunts Mother Canada on a yearly basis.

An NHL team from Canada has not hoisted Lord Stanley’s Cup since the Canadiens last did it in 1993. In fact, only four Canadian-based clubs have even reached the NHL Finals since that time with Vancouver being the most recent in 2011. With the way things are currently going, this drought is likely to continue. Read on and find out if I think they can come back or not.

Montreal (+1.5/-190) at NY Rangers (-1.5/+165), Rangers Lead 2-0 – The New York Rangers (and LA Kings) find themselves in very interesting positions. According to ESPN, since the best of seven format went to all playoff rounds in the NHL, teams that won their first two series in seven games went on to lose their next series.

Subban
PK Subban has to be more involved if the Canadiens are going to get back into the series.

At this point it would take a colossal failure on the part of the Rangers. They have a 2-0 lead and they are back at home for the next two games. Oh, and the Canadiens are without their goalie Carey Price for the rest of the series. While there is no such thing as a sure thing this is pretty darn close.

With all that said, the only thing that really kept Motreal from winning in game two was Rangers’ Goalie Henrik Lundqvist who stopped 40 of the 41 shots the Canadiens shot at him. Montreal also had more power play chances (4-3) and won in the face-off department by a count of 32-21.

In other words, this isn’t the most dominant 2-0 lead we’ve ever seen in the NHL Playoffs.

At the other end of the ice, 24-year old Dustin Tokarski was the surprise selection to replace Price. Usual back-up Peter Budaj was thought to get the nod but the coaching staff chose Tokarski because of the titles he had won at younger levels.

Despite giving up three goals, Tokarski played very well. Two of three goals scored by the Rangers were in no way on Tokarski. I expect him to get the game three start between the pipes this evening and Montreal should feel good about his play. They just have to solve Lundqvist and take advantage of a Rangers’ defense that gives up too many shots.

Speaking of the Rangers, the power play that was three for seven in game one went one for three in game two. That was a good part of the reason why the Rangers were able to overcome the discrepancy in shots and lost face-offs. Rick Nash finally put the biscuit in the basket in game one to end a long drought. He then added another goal in game two and fans are expecting that he continue this trend.

Momentum in sports is a strange animal. They say in baseball it’s as good as tomorrow’s starting pitcher and in hockey it can simply fall on the shoulders of a hot goaltender. I expect Lundqvist to continue to play well but the Canadiens are desperate and have the backs to the wall. I like Montreal tonight to win a close game in the Garden.

Thunder’s Chances to Return to NBA Finals Getting Dimmer

The NBA Western Conference Finals best of seven series heads to Oklahoma City for Game 3 and 4 with the San Antonio Spurs holding a 2-0 lead over the Oklahoma City Thunder.

The Spurs have routed the Thunder in the first 2 games of the series 122-105 in Game 1 and 112-77 in Game 2.

San Antonio has played team basketball with no one star standing out above the others. In Game 1, big man Tim Duncan had 27 points of which 21 came in the first two quarters of the game.

In Game 2, it was the Danny Green and Tony Parker show. The two combined to score 43 points. Green hit seven three-point shots.

The entire Spurs organization should be given credit for what the club has accomplished. What was once just an ensemble group of talented players has been transformed into a perennial title contender.

San Antonio will not beat themselves and for Oklahoma City to recover from their 0-2 hole, they must play nearly perfect basketball.

The Spurs are too deep and have played too long together to let the Thunder return a second time from 0-2 to win the West.

However, before writing off the Thunder, remember they have the league’s MVP in Kevin Durant. They have one of the league’s most explosive point guards in Russell Westbrook.

Even without Serge Ibaka, the Thunder could come back and win over the Spurs, but it is highly unlikely.

In 2012, the Thunder lost their first two games to San Antonio, before winning four straight to win the Western Conference.

During that season, Durant was instrumental in the Thunder coming back from 2-0 down.

In his last two games in that series of 2012, Durant scored 36 points in a Game 4 win and 34 in a Game 6 win.

In Game 2 this year, in just 29 minutes, Durant had 15 points, hitting just 6 of 16 shots from the field and sat out the entire fourth quarter.

Yes, miracles can and do happen, but this time around it looks nearly impossible. Bookmakers Bovada, topbet, betonline and sportsbook.com have the Thunder as the biggest long shot on the board to reach the NBA Finals and win.

Over the past few seasons, the Thunder has turned into an elite defense, but without Ibaka to shut down the middle the defense must collapse and that makes them vulnerable to the outside jumpers. Danny Green was able to score 7 three pointers in Game 2, as an example of just that.

The margin for error is practically zero for the Thunder if they hope to dig themselves out of their 0-2 hole. This weekend will be a true test for them.

If they win Game 3, their possibilities increase, but if they lose Game 3, you can assure yourself that they will be swept in the series by losing Game 4.