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2014 NBA Playoffs: Heat and Blazers Push Series To 3-1

Heat 102 – Nets 96
Throughout his career, LeBron James has been criticized for his ability to win big games and come through for his team when they need him most. Heading into Monday, the Heat had suffered their first loss of the postseason and the Nets were looking to even things up at home. But after a huge 49-point effort from James, he let the entire NBA world know that his team is ready for the coming weeks leading up to the NBA Finals.

The Heat would need all 49 of James’ points, which was a mark that matched a career playoff high for him. However, Miami would also need a clutch 3-pointer from Chris Bosh, which he hit with 57 seconds left to break what was a tie game at that point. Bosh finished with 12, but none were as big as that late bucket. Dwyane Wade also added 15, though no other starter for the Heat scored in double-digits. Ray Allen was instrumental in the fourth quarter comeback, as he hit four free throws on his way to 11 points off the bench.

For the Nets, Joe Johnson once again led the way with a team-high 18 points, while Paul Pierce pitched in 16, and Deron Williams and Shaun Livingston both put in 13. The Nets were able to go back and forth with the Heat all night long and had a solid effort from majority of their team. They were down just three points heading into the final quarter, but they were outscored 23-20 to put it out of reach.

You can check back with sportspicks.com handicappers before Game Five on Wednesday in Miami, as the Heat try and knock off a team that they had trouble with all year long. The Heat currently sit at 6/5 odds, while the Nets have fallen all the way back to 50/1.

Spurs 92 – Trail Blazers 103
We look like we could be in for another NBA Finals matchup between the Heat and the Spurs. After being pushed to seven games against the Mavericks in the Conference Quarterfinals, San Antonio has easily had their way with the Blazers in the Semifinals. That is until Portland finally got one on the Spurs on Monday night, as they staved off elimination for at least one more game.

The Spurs had scored at least 60 points in the first half of the first three games of this series. The Blazers were much better on defense on Monday, allowing just 48 in the first half, while scoring 50 of their own. However, it was a huge third period when the Blazers outscored the Spurs, 35-20, which ended up being one of the deciding factors in Monday’s result. Damien Lillard had 25 for Portland and LaMarcus Aldridge added 19. Will Barton also gave 30 minutes off the bench, in which he scored 17 points.

The Spurs got a steady balance of points from many players on the team. Tony Parker led the way with 14, Tim Duncan added 12 and Matt Boner had 12 off the bench. We are used to seeing at least one of the Spurs players come up big, much like Parker did in Game Three. If the Spurs want to avoid having to go back to Portland, they’ll need more contribution as a whole, or they’ll hope that someone can step it up and put the weight on his shoulders to carry them into the Conference Finals.

Despite the loss, it may not be time to worry for San Antonio. They still have the second best championship odds in the league at 2/1, while the Blazers are a league-worst 300/1. This is a good step in the right direction for Portland, and they’ll hope to follow it up on Wednesday in Game Five.