NBA News and Notes April - 24

NBA News and Notes April - 24

NBA Today - April 24
Tue, Apr 24, 2007
By Associated Press

L.A. Lakers at Phoenix (10:30 p.m. EDT). The Suns defeated the Lakers 95-87 in their first-round playoff opener on Sunday. The Suns are listed as -9 1/2-point favorites. The total is set at 207.

STAR Monday

-Tracy McGrady, Rockets, had 31 points, 10 rebounds and five assists as Houston took a 2-0 lead in their Western Conference quarterfinal series with a 98-90 victory over Utah.

BALANCE

Richard Hamilton scored 22 points, one of four Pistons with at least 17, to lead Detroit to a 98-90 victory over the Magic on Monday night and a 2-0 lead in their first-round series.

STRONG IN DEFEAT

Utah's Carlos Boozer matched a career high with 41 points, finishing 17-of-30 from the field with 12 rebounds and six assists, but the Jazz fell down 0-2 to Houston following a 98-90 loss Monday night.

SHOOTING

Houston was 34-for-38 from the line (90 percent) in a 98-90 victory over the Utah Jazz on Monday night to take a 2-0 lead in their first-round playoff series.

GOOD SIGN

Houston has won seven of eight playoff series when leading 2-0. The Rockets took a 2-0 lead on Utah in the Western Conference quarterfinals with a 98-90 victory Monday night. Game 3 is Thursday night in Salt Lake City. The Jazz have never come back from an 0-2 deficit to win a playoff series and have lost 16 of their last 17 road playoff games.

AWARDS

Leandro Barbosa won the NBA's Sixth Man Award on Monday after a season in which he averaged 18.0 points and helped lead Phoenix to the second-best record in the league. The fourth-year guard from Brazil received 101 of 127 first-place votes and 578 points from a media panel. San Antonio guard Manu Ginobili was second with 269 points and Dallas guard Jerry Stackhouse third with 210.

FINED

Chicago guard Kirk Hinrich was fined $25,000 by the NBA on Monday for throwing his mouthpiece into the stands during a playoff victory over Miami on Saturday.

SIDELINED

New Orleans point guard Chris Paul had a screw inserted in his left foot Monday and will likely be unable to train with the U.S. basketball team this summer. Paul, last season's rookie of the year, averaged 17.3 points, 8.9 assists and 1.84 steals this season for the Hornets.

SPEAKING

''We can't let them get back into the series. We have to get that third win.'' - Rasheed Wallace, who finished with 17 points, 11 rebounds and three blocks to help Detroit beat Orlando 98-90 Monday night and take a 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference quarterfinals.

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Re: NBA News and Notes April - 24

Strong start for underdogs
By DAVE TULEY

Last year's first round of the NBA playoffs was the most exciting in recent memory - and many observers call it the best of all time - with many exciting games and six going to overtime.

It set the bar pretty high, but if this past Saturday and Sunday's series openers were any indication, we could be in for an encore. Of the eight games in which the lower-numbered seed had home-court advantage and was a favorite, three were outright upsets as East No. 6 seed New Jersey Nets beat the East No. 3 Toronto Raptors on Saturday, the West No. 6 seed Denver Nuggets beat the No. 3 San Antonio Spurs, and the No. 8 seed Golden State Warriors surprised the No. 1 Dallas Mavericks on Sunday.

In the five games in which the favorite won - Chicago Bulls over Miami Heat, Detroit Pistons over Orlando Magic, Houston Rockets over Utah Jazz, Cleveland Cavaliers over Washington Wizards and Phoenix Suns over Los Angeles Lakers - only the Rockets and the Cavaliers covered as underdogs went 6-2 against the spread.

My picks in Saturday's Daily Racing Form fared well over the weekend as I won with the Nets +4 1/2 versus the Raptors, the Lakers +10 1/2 versus the Suns, and the Nuggets +300 on the money line versus the Spurs. My only losing recommendation was on the Heat +4 versus the Bulls, though the line got bet to Bulls -5 1/2, so most Miami bettors won if they waited until Saturday or at least got a push at +5 when the Bulls won 96-91.

Any discussion of NBA playoff betting should include the zig-zag theory, aka "loser-of-the-last theory," which simply says to bet the straight-up loser of the previous game in the next game against the spread. The logic is that the team that loses will be desperate to make up that game and will make adjustments while the winner might not make any adjustments. It was a huge playoff moneymaker for years, going 286-209-5 (58 percent) from 1984 through 2003, but has leveled off in recent years, going 15-16 in the 2004 first round, a barely profitable 18-16-1 in 2005, and then 16-18-3 last year. Last year it started out 11-5-2 (69 percent) before going 5-13-1 the rest of the first round.

If you wish to subscribe to the theory this year or just track its record, the plays on Monday (which is after the deadline for this article) would have been Magic +8 versus the Pistons and Jazz +5 1/2 versus the Rockets. The plays on Tuesday would have been Raptors -5 1/2 versus the Nets, Heat +3 1/2 versus the Bulls, and Suns -9 1/2 versus the Lakers. The plays on Wednesday would be Spurs -8 1/2 versus the Nuggets, Wizards +12 versus the Cavaliers and Mavericks -9 1/2 versus the Warriors. I don't necessarily recommend any of those plays, plus you can see in most cases that oddsmakers have shaded the numbers because they know bettors are looking to bet the zig-zag.

In totals wagers, unders went 6-2 on Saturday and Sunday, including the last five games all going under. The two that went over were the Heat-Bulls and Magic-Pistons, and oddsmakers kept the totals pretty much the same for game 2 in both of those series. The totals for both game 2s were shaded lower by an average of 2 1/2 points.

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