There were three different NBA games on Monday night, each with their own storyline. While one team closed out their series and became the only team to sweep their First Round matchup, another team is now on the brink of elimination. And before the night was over, another game would become a tie series at 2-2. Here is a look into the action.
Hawks 107 – Pacers 97
The number one seed in the Eastern Conference is now on the brink of elimination. And with a 10-point loss, you have to wonder how much the Pacers even have left in the tank. What might even be worse is that Indiana outscored Atlanta, 30-20 in the fourth quarter, and still fell short by 10 at the final buzzer. It was the Hawks 41-point second quarter that gave them such a lead to where the final run in the fourth by the Pacers didn’t even matter. The Hawks keep getting production from unlikely places. On Monday it was Sheldon Mack, as he had 20 points and 5 assists off the bench. Mike Scott also came off the bench and he added 17 of his own. Four of the five starters for Atlanta also scored in double-digits, led by Paul Millsap with 18. As for the Pacers, Paul George once again did his best to try and lead this team. With 25 points, 10 rebounds, 5 assists and 5 steals in a single game, he is the first player to put up those numbers in a single game since Gary Payton did it in 2000. There is no denying that this is the worst-case possible scenario for the Hawks. They have not played well in Atlanta in recent memory and now they’ll have to do that if they even want to have a chance at Game Seven. Home-court is what the Pacers fought all year for, so now it’s their chance to get it back home and avoid letting this season turn into one of the most epic collapses in basketball playoff history.
Heat 109 – Bobcats 89
The Heat and Pacers were back and forth all year long in an attempt to get the top seed in the East. But as Indiana will now have to force a Game Seven if they have any chance of advancing, the Heat can sit back and relax, as they became the only team in the First Round to sweep their opponents. The Bobcats are now 0-14 since the Big Three have been in Miami. LeBron James had 31 points in the game, bringing his series average to right at 30 per game. The game took a bit of a turn when James went down in the third quarter after he was hit with a knee from Bismack Biyombo. However, after walking it off, James would explode and the Heat outscored the Bobcats in the quarter, 32-17. That sealed the fate of Charlotte, despite the fact that they outscored the Heat 27-25 in the final quarter. The Heat may not have gotten the top seed in the East, but they certainly look to be playing the best ball in the entire league. They also have the best odds at 8/1 to win it all. They will now sit back and wait to see who they’ll play next, as other games work themselves out over the coming days.
Spurs 93 – Mavericks 89
The Spurs made it a perfect 3-0 for road teams on Monday night with their 93-89 win in Dallas. But more importantly, they were able to even up the series at two games apiece, as they regained home-court advantage in their series. The key stat in this one was that the Spurs outscored the Mavericks in the second quarter, 32-13. Even though the Mavs were able to outscore San Antonio in every other quarter of the game, they looked lost in the second and it hurt them at the end. The Spurs were lead in scoring by Manu Ginobili, who finished the game with 23 points. Ginobili was just one of three Spurs players to come off the bench and score in double digits, the other two being Patty Mills and Boris Diaw. The top scorer for Dallas was Monta Ellis, who finished with 20, followed by Dirk Nowitzki with 19. The Spurs sit tied with the Thunder at 4/1 odds to win the NBA Championship. However, despite tying up the series, Dallas has still looked like a better team through most of this series. Sportspicks.com handicappers will evaluate whether or not Dallas can steal another one in San Antonio, before Game Three tipoff on Wednesday night.