After missing an opportunity Saturday to equalize their NBA Eastern Conference first round series with the Philadelphia 76ers, the Brooklyn Nets will now have their backs to the wall until it’s over.
Betting markets think it will be over Tuesday night (TNT, 8 p.m.). Barring late developments, Philadelphia should close as a favorite near -7.5 points, with a no-vig money line suggesting a 75% win probability. Even if the Nets spring a Game Five upset, the Sixers would be a short road favorite in Game Six and then prohibitive favorites if a seventh game was needed in Philadelphia.
Sunday, the Westgate in Las Vegas posted Philadelphia at -10000 to win the series (bettors must risk $10K to win $100), Brooklyn at +2000 to rally all the way back to advance (risk $100 to win $2K).
Brooklyn owned riding time for most of Saturday’s 48 minutes. The Nets couldn’t win even though…
*Philadelphia had its lowest free throw production of the series, making just 16 from the charity stripe after tallying 29, 26, and 30 in the first three games.
*Philadelphia had its highest turnover count of the series, losing the ball 18 times after just 13, 12, and 16 miscues.
*Philadelphia had its second worst three-point performance of the series. Shooting 8 of 26 was better than the woeful 3 of 25 in the opener, but a fall from 9/23 and 11/27 in their other victories.
(Note that all of those were factors keeping the scoring total of 220 under the market Over/Under of 231. Two Overs and two Unders so far this series, with a volatile sequence of 213, 268, 246, and 220.)
How did the Sixers win Game 5? The same way they’ve established dominance through the series. Two-point shooting and rebounding. Philadelphia outshot Brooklyn 58% to 46% inside the arc (biggest edge thus far), while winning the battle of the boards 56-42 (49-32 and 54-43 in earlier victories).
The Nets MUST make a high percentage of three-point shots to win because misses are virtual turnovers against great rebounders. Brooklyn shot 42.3% in their Game One upset on 11 of 26. Just 15 misses, and the equivalent of 63.4% on two’s. Afterward, Brooklyn missed 21, 31, and 26 three-point attempts, making only 31% in their losses (35 of 113).
Home court advantage isn’t getting much market respect in this matchup. Philadelphia closed at -3 on the road Saturday. Even if Tuesday’s point spread rises to -8, that’s still just a five-point swing…representing an approximate home court value of 2.5 points at each site.
Road teams are 3-1 against the spread so far. Philadelphia’s margins averages through four games vs. the Nets: +10.0 points on the road, even though Joel Embiid missed a game, just +6.5 points at home.
Should Brooklyn get hot from long range and steal Tuesday’s tussle, Game 6 would be Thursday night at Barclays Center.
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