Saturday's NBA Tip Sheet
Saturday's NBA Tip Sheet
(5) Washington (43-39, 46-36 ATS) at (4) Cleveland (45-37, 37-45 ATS)
For the third straight year, these two teams will square off in the first round of the playoffs, with the Wizards traveling to Quicken Loans Arena for Games 1 and 2 to take on the defending Eastern Conference champion Cavaliers in a best-of-7 series.
Washington dropped its regular-season finale to third-seeded Orlando 103-83 as an eight-point road underdog Wednesday, halting a two-game SU and ATS surge. The Wizards finished the year on a 5-2 SU run and went 4-2 ATS in their last six starts.
Cleveland also lost its last game, falling 84-74 Wednesday to second-seeded Detroit as an 8½-point home pup in a meaningless contest for both teams. The Cavaliers went 5-7 SU in their last 12 games and were even worse at the betting window, going just 3-9 ATS in that span.
Cleveland has beaten the Wizards the past two years in the first round of the playoffs, including a 4-0 sweep last year (3-1 ATS). In 2006, the Cavs won in six games, going 3-3 ATS.
These two teams split their season series 2-2 SU and ATS, with both holding serve at home but also covering once each on the road. In the most recent meeting March 13, Washington took a 101-99 victory, but Cleveland got the cash as a 3½-point road ‘dog. In the last meeting in Cleveland, the Cavs eked out a 90-89 win on Feb. 22 but failed to cover as a 3½-point chalk. The Wizards are 5-2 ATS the last seven meetings in Cleveland, and the road team is 5-2 ATS in the last seven clashes overall.
The Wizards are on a 14-6 run as an underdog and have additional positive ATS trends of 8-1 on two days’ rest, 8-3 as a road pup of less than five points and 11-5 as a road ‘dog of any price. But they are 1-4 ATS in their last five conference quarterfinal games (all against Cleveland) and 1-4 ATS in their last five after a SU loss.
The Cavaliers are 6-2 ATS in their last eight after a double-digit home loss and 5-2 ATS in their last seven as a playoff favorite, but otherwise they are mired in several ATS funks, including 3-8 against the Eastern Conference, 1-4 as a chalk, 1-4 against the Southeast Division, 1-5 after a SU loss, 1-5 as a home chalk, 1-6 overall at home and 0-5 against teams with a winning record.
For Washington, the over is on streaks of 8-3 overall, 4-0 after a SU loss, 21-7 against the East and 5-2 in the playoffs – again, all against Cleveland – but the under is 11-5 in the Wizards’ last 16 on the highway and 10-4 in their last 14 as an underdog. For Cleveland, the under is on streaks of 6-0 overall, 16-5 at home, 11-2 as a home favorite and 5-0 after a SU loss. Finally, including playoffs, the under is 14-6 in the last 20 series meetings at Quicken Loans Arena.
ATS ADVANTAGE: UNDER
(6) Phoenix (55-27, 39-40-3 ATS) at (3) San Antonio (56-26, 37-43-2)
In another rematch of a playoff series from 2007, the sixth-seeded Suns head to the AT&T Center to face the defending NBA champion Spurs, who won the title last year from this same position as a third seed.
Phoenix capped the regular season with a 100-91 home win Wednesday over Portland, failing to cash as an 11½-point favorite for its second ATS setback in three games. The Suns went 8-3 SU down the stretch but a more middling 6-5 ATS.
San Antonio secured the No. 3 seed by pummeling fourth-seeded Utah 109-80 Wednesday laying 4½ points at home to end a two-game ATS skid. The Spurs cashed in just two of their last seven games (4-3 SU), following an 8-0 SU and 7-1 ATS tear.
Phoenix went 3-1 SU and ATS in this rivalry during the regular season, with the underdog prevailing each time, including the Suns’ 96-79 beatdown at San Antonio 10 days ago as a seven-point road pup. However, the Spurs got the upper hand in a physical and controversial conference semifinal last year, winning the series 4-2 (3-2-1 ATS) on their way to the title.
The Suns are on pointspread streaks of 11-4-1 against the Western Conference, 5-0 on two days’ rest, 5-0 after a non-cover and 5-2 against the Southwest Division, but they are 1-5 ATS in their last six as a road underdog (the one victory coming in San Antonio earlier this month).
The Spurs are on ATS slides of 4-9 as a home chalk of less than five points, 1-4 on Saturday, 1-4 against the Pacific Division and 1-6 on two days’ rest. On the flip side, though, San Antonio is 13-3-1 ATS in its last 17 as a playoff favorite, 5-1 ATS in its last six at home and 4-0 ATS in the opening round of the playoffs.
The under is 5-2 Phoenix’s last seven overall, 4-0 in its last four against winning teams and 8-3 in its last 11 as a playoff pup of less than five points, but the over is 6-1 in the Suns’ last seven as a road ‘dog and 6-2 in their last eight conference quarterfinal contests. For San Antonio, the under is on two lengthy runs – 21-8 when favored by less than five and 20-8-1 in conference quarterfinal games. Finally, the under cashed in all four meetings between these squads this season.
ATS ADVANTAGE: SAN ANTONIO and UNDER
(7) Dallas (51-31, 35-43-4 ATS) at (2) New Orleans (56-26, 50-30-2 ATS)
The Mavericks, looking to regain the playoff form that got them to the NBA Finals two years ago, travel to New Orleans Arena to face the surprising Hornets, who claimed the West’s second seed and carry the league’s third-best ATS record, behind only Boston and Orlando.
Dallas capped the regular season with Wednesday’s 96-87 win over New Orleans as a 7½-point home chalk, locking up the No. 7 seed and solidifying this matchup. With the spread-cover, the Mavs snapped an 0-4 ATS slide that followed a 4-0 ATS winning streak.
New Orleans, which lost three of its last four games, had been solid against the number almost all season, but the setback in Wednesday’s regular-season finale gave the Hornets a middling 5-4-1 ATS mark in their final 10 games. That said, they haven’t suffered back-to-back pointspread losses since an 0-3 SU and ATS stretch Feb. 22-25, against Houston, San Antonio and Washington.
These two teams went 2-2 SU and ATS against each other this season, with the home team winning and cashing each time. In the two clashes in New Orleans, the Hornets posted a 112-108 overtime win in December as a three-point underdog and a 104-93 win in February laying 3½ points. The favorite is 4-1 ATS in the last five clashes.
Despite their recent ATS woes, the Mavericks sport positive pointspread trends of 23-9 as an underdog, 14-2 as a playoff underdog of any price, 16-5 as a playoff pup of less than five points and 37-15-1 against Southwest Division rivals. On the negative side, though, Dallas is 9-22 ATS in its last 31 road games against teams with a winning home record and 2-5 ATS in its last seven on two days’ rest. Also, the Mavs failed to cover in each of their final four games during last year’s stunning first-round playoff upset loss to No. 8 seed Golden State.
The Hornets are on a 22-8 ATS tear at home and carry into this series almost nothing but positive pointspread trends, including 38-18-1 overall, 12-3-1 as a favorite, 9-2 as a home chalk, 36-15 after a non-cover, 35-16-1 after a SU loss, 4-0-1 as a chalk of less than five points and 37-18-1 when playing on two days’ rest.
The under is on streaks of 5-1 for Dallas overall, 8-3 for Dallas against division rivals, 5-2 for Dallas in first-round playoff action, 5-2 for New Orleans overall and 8-2 for New Orleans against Western Conference foes. Conversely, the over is on runs of 9-1 when the Mavs are on the road, 5-1 with the Mavs as a playoff pup, 4-1 for the Hornets in the playoffs, 15-6-2 for the Hornets as a home favorite and 24-8 for the Hornets when going on two days’ rest.
Finally, the under is 8-2-1 in the last 11 clashes in this series, with Wednesday’s game falling short of the 192-point posted price, but the over cashed in both meetings at New Orleans this year.
ATS ADVANTAGE: NEW ORLEANS
(4) Utah (54-28, 46-36 ATS) at (5) Houston (55-27, 47-33-2 ATS)
A year after making it all the way to the Western Conference finals, the Jazz begin their 2008 playoff run by traveling to the Toyota Center to open a best-of-7 set against the Rockets, who are looking to avenge last season’s first-round playoff exit to Utah.
Utah got flattened in its regular-season finale Wednesday, losing 109-80 at San Antonio as a 4½-point pup, ending a 7-0 spread-covering spree for the Jazz (6-1 SU). Utah still capped the season on a 9-3 SU and ATS surge, but it wasn’t enough to steal home-court advantage in this series from Houston, which finished one game better than the Jazz and got the home-court edge despite being a lower seed.
Houston rolled past the Clippers 94-75 Wednesday, cashing as a heavy 14-point chalk. The win and cover halted a two-game SU and ATS hiccup, which occurred on the heels of a 5-0 SU and ATS win streak. The winner has covered the spread in each of the Rockets’ last 10 games.
These two teams met just five days ago in Salt Lake City, with Utah taking a 105-96 win to narrowly cover as an 8½-point favorite. The Jazz went 2-1 SU and ATS in the three meetings this season, winning the lone contest at the Toyota Center 97-89 catching one point in January. In last year’s first-round playoff series, the Rockets won and covered the first two games, then watched the Jazz storm back with a 4-1 SU run to claim the series, cashing in all five games, including a 103-99 win as a 5½-point road ‘dog in Game 7. Including that playoff series, Utah is on a 7-1 ATS spree against Houston.
The Jazz are on a 22-8 ATS streak against the Western Conference and are on additional ATS runs of 6-1 against the Southwest Division, 4-1 as an underdog (all on the road), 4-1 after a non-cover, 5-2 after a SU loss and 36-16-1 against winning teams. On a negative note, Utah last spring failed to cash in its last four games as a playoff underdog and is 6-15 ATS in its last 21 games when going on two days’ rest.
Beyond their current 0-5 ATS nosedive in the playoffs, the Rockets are on myriad positive pointspread streaks, including 36-17-1 overall, 16-5-1 at home, 21-5-1 as a favorite, 15-4-1 as a home chalk and 19-7 after a spread-cover. In addition, they are 4-0 ATS in their last four on two days’ rest and 7-1 ATS in their last eight on Saturday.
For Utah, the over is on streaks of 7-2 as a playoff underdog, 6-2 on two days’ rest and a lengthy 42-20 as a road pup of less than five points, but the under is 9-3-1 in the team’s last 13 against the Southwest Division, 15-5 in its last 20 after a SU loss and 13-6 in its last 19 conference quarterfinal contests.
For Houston, the under is on a bevy of runs, including 4-0 at home, 9-2 against the Northwest Division, 4-1 after a SU win, 4-1 as a home chalk of any price and 8-3 as a home favorite of less than five points. Finally, in this series, the over is 3-1 in the last four series meetings going back to Game 7 last May.
ATS ADVANTAGE: HOUSTON
Re: Saturday's NBA Tip Sheet
Saturday's best NBA bets
Phoenix vs. San Antonio -4, 194
It took awhile for the Suns to adjust to having Shaq in the lineup, but they finished the season strong by winning 14 of their last 19 games. They also went 11-7-1 ATS (against the spread) to earn a tidy profit during that stretch and it looks like the defending champion Spurs will have their hands full in Round 1.
The big matchup problem is in the paint. Shaq and Amare Stoudemire both rank in the top five in the league in field-goal percentage and together they hope to be too much for Tim Duncan to handle alone. The Suns like to start Stoudemire on Duncan and then let Shaq “finish with him” as the former Heat center said this week. If they can wear Duncan down and limit his production, you have to like the Suns' chances.
The Suns won both meetings this season with O’Neal in the lineup and that could be the telling story of this series. All four meetings also played under between these clubs this year and points won’t come easily.
Pick: under 194½
Dallas vs. New Orleans -4½, 193
Dallas knows all too well what it feels like to lose a series as one of the top seeds in the first round. Last year the Mavs fell to the Warriors as the No. 1 seed in the West and they’ve been waiting for this moment ever since.
Now it’s the Mavs’ turn to play upset as the No. 7 seed and they’ll go up against a much less experienced Hornets team.
Chris Paul, Tyson Chandler and David West will all make their postseason starting debuts while the Mavs’ Dirk Nowitzki, Jason Kidd and Josh Howard have over 200 playoff games among them.
That’s not to say the lack of experience will lose the series in a sweep for New Orleans. This is a great Hornets team with one of the best players in the league in Paul. However, opening-game jitters on home court might make 4 ½ points a little much to cover.
Pick: Mavs +4½
Re: Saturday's NBA Tip Sheet
Profitable Playoff Underdogs
Never has there been a conference playoff bracket more competitive than the one currently employed by the Western Conference. Only seven games separated the top seeded Lakers from the eighth-seeded Nuggets. With such little difference between first-round opponents comes great value with the underdogs. Upsets are a high probability in the first round as we expect at least two dogs to pull of the series upset. Let’s take a look at each series and how each underdog could pull off the upset.
No. 8 Denver (+500) over No. 1 Los Angeles
Kobe Bryant’s preseason whining over the state of his Lakers proved to be anti-prophetic as the development of the youngsters and the midseason acquisition of Pau Gasol propelled Los Angeles to the top seed in the Western Conference. As good as the Lakers were they were still only seven games better than Denver. As Golden State proved last year, the No. 8 seed can definitely take out the No. 1 seed, maybe even more so this season.
Outside of Bryant and Derek Fisher, the Lakers roster can’t claim a lot of postseason success. Gasol has never won a playoff game and Odom has a history of coming up short in the playoffs. The remainder of the roster features a collection of young veterans that just came into their own this season.
Denver, on the other hand, probably has more collective playoff experience. Starters Allen Iverson, Marcus Camby and Kenyon Martin have all played significant roles for NBA Finals teams. Couple that experience with the explosive scoring of Carmelo Anthony and bench production of J.R. Smith and Linas Kleiza and the Nuggets can score with anybody. If Denver gets hot, it is almost impossible to stop.
No. 7 Dallas (+120) over No. 2 New Orleans
The Hornets have been the surprise of the Western Conference this year, riding Chris Paul’s MVP-caliber season all the way to the second seed. Experience will again come into play in this series. Outside of Peja Stojakovic, New Orleans has little to no postseason success.
This veteran Dallas team underachieved this season but it has been here before and will want to make up for its first-round collapse to Golden State last year. A majority of this roster has played in the NBA Finals and each player wants to get back to that stage. Dirk Nowitzki returned from a late-season injury to average 24 points per game in April, looking as motivated as ever. With Jason Kidd now fully integrated into the system, the Mavs are a strong bet to take out the inexperienced Hornets.
No. 6 Phoenix (+110) over No. 3 San Antonio
Phoenix GM Steve Kerr made a big splash at the trade deadline with the acquisition of Shaquille O’Neal. That trade was made specifically for this series as the Suns lacked the big man to match up against the likes of San Antonio’s Tim Duncan. After a brief acclimation period, the Phoenix roster gelled together nicely down the stretch. Included during this period was two convincing wins over these Spurs. The Suns won at home 94-87 and at San Antonio 96-79 less than two weeks ago with Shaq averaging 15 points and 12.5 boards per game in those contests.
The Suns also have the extra motivation of last year’s controversial elimination at the hands of the Spurs. Phoenix could have easily won that series and advanced to the NBA Finals if not for some questionable suspensions that arguably cost the team the series. The Suns took three of four meetings during the regular season, winning both games in San Antonio.
No. 5 Houston (+180) over No. 4 Utah
Yao Ming’s season-ending injury was supposed to mark the collapse of the Rockets but that has not been the case. Houston reeled off 22 straight wins this year, 10 of which came with Yao sidelined. Many will point to Tracy McGrady’s inability to get out of the first round as a reason to take the Jazz but McGrady knows his legacy is on the line and he’ll give everything he has in this series.
Houston’s home-court advantage will play a big role in this series. The Jazz may own the higher seed but Houston’s better overall record gives it the home-court edge. Utah has been great at home this year but awful on the road. Of all of the Western Conference playoff teams, the Jazz had the worst road record at 17-24 on the season.
Utah’s success comes courtesy of its highly-efficient offense. If there’s any team that can disrupt that flow its Houston. The Rockets are second in the NBA in defensive field-goal percentage and fourth in scoring defense with just 92 points allowed per game. They’ve been even better at home, allowing just 89.9 points per game on 42.5 percent shooting. Houston’s home-court advantage will be the difference maker in this series.
Re: Saturday's NBA Tip Sheet
Are you ready for Tonight's NBA matches, did you prepare you NBA picks ...look at my selection and give us your comment...
San Antonio Spurs -4½ Under 192½
LA Lakers -8 Under 223
Dallas Mavericks +4½ Over 192
P.s. Good luck to all...