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Tuesday's NBA Tip Sheet

Tuesday's NBA Tip Sheet

Late games Tip Sheet
By Brad Young

Things are really starting to heat up in the NBA postseason, and both of Tuesday’s late contests are win or go home affairs. Both the Utah-Houston and Phoenix-San Antonio series feature a playoff rematch from last year, with the team winning last year’s matchup on the brink of advancing to the second round.

Utah won both meetings at Houston before splitting two games at home, but now can advance to round 2 in the Western Conference playoffs with a victory in this spot. The fifth-seeded Jazz knocked out the Rockets last year before advancing all the way to the Western Conference Finals.

The Phoenix-San Antonio series figured to be a classic even though these two heavyweights are colliding in the first round. The first game lived up to the hype before being decided in double overtime, but the last two games have been blowouts.

The third-seeded Spurs won the first three games of this series, and need just one more victory to take on the New Orleans-Dallas winner. Defending champion San Antonio had won nine playoff games in a row before getting routed in Sunday’s Game 4 setback to Phoenix.

Now let’s break down both of Tuesday’s late games.

**Jazz (5) at Rockets (4)**

-Caesars Palace installed Houston as a 1½-point home ‘chalk’ over Utah, with the total set at 182½. Game 5 is scheduled to begin at 9:30 p.m. ET.

-Utah (57-29 straight up, 46-37 against the spread) took a 3-1 series lead after knocking off Houston (56-30 SU, 50-34 ATS) Saturday as an 8 ½-point home favorite, 86-82. The combined 168 points never seriously threatened the 185 ½-point closing total, helping the ‘under’ go 3-1 this series.

-The Jazz have failed to cover the last two games in this series after covering the first two contests. Utah won the rebounding battle, 48-41, while shooting 43 percent (31-of-72) from the field. The Jazz went 0-14 from behind the arc, but prevailed as all five starters reached double digits in scoring. Point guard Deron Williams stepped up with 17 points and nine assists, while center Mehmet Okur added 14 and 18 rebounds.

-Houston shot 37 percent (29-of-79) in the setback, led by Tracy McGrady’s 23 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists. Game 4 was close throughout, but the Rockets were outscored by 10 points (25-15) in the second quarter. Houston wrapped up the first quarter on a 12-3 run to take a 23-21 lead.

-Utah is 19-24 SU and ATS on the road, with the ‘over’ going 23-19. The Jazz took the first two games of this series in Houston SU and ATS, with the ‘under’ cashing each time.

-Houston maintains a 31-12 SU and 25-17 ATS home ledger, with the ‘under’ going 27-16. The Rockets have been winning their home endeavors by an average score of 97-90.

-Utah guard Jason Hart missed Game 4 with the stomach flu, but is expected to be available for this contest.

**Suns (6) at Spurs (3)**

-Caesars Palace opened San Antonio as a five-point home favorite over Phoenix, with the total set at 198. TNT will provide coverage of Game 5 beginning at 9:30 p.m. ET.

-Phoenix (56-30 SU, 41-42 ATS) avoided getting swept out of the postseason by routing San Antonio (59-27 SU, 40-45 ATS) in Sunday’s Game 4 as a 3 1/2-point home ‘chalk,’ 105-86. The combined 191 points went ‘under’ the 200 ½-point closing total, ending a string of three consecutive ‘over’ outings in this series. The Suns failed to cover their last two games with the Spurs before Sunday’s victory.

-Phoenix never looked back after jumping out to a 34-13 first-quarter advantage. San Antonio outscored the Suns in the final quarter, 21-12, but still lost the game by 19 points and trailed by 32 at one time. Phoenix shot 43 percent (38-of-89) from the field, and 45 percent (9-of-20) from behind the arc. Shooting guard Raja Bell led all scorers with 27 points on 8-of-11 shooting, while Boris Diaw added 20, 10 rebounds and eight assists.

-San Antonio had been shooting the lights out this series, but finished Game 4 by connecting at just a 39-percent clip (32-of-82). Just two starters reached double digits in scoring, led by guard Tony Parker’s 18 points on 7-of-17 shooting and Tim Duncan’s 14 and 10 rebounds.

-The Spurs had won nine consecutive playoff games before Sunday’s setback. Head coach Gregg Popovich benched three of his starters for good late in the third quarter. No NBA team has ever come back from a 3-0 deficit to win a playoff series.

-Phoenix is 25-18 SU and 21-19 ATS on the road, with the ‘over’ going 22-21. The Suns have been winning their road endeavors by an average score of 108-105. Phoenix went 0-2 SU and 1-1 ATS the first two games of this series in San Antonio.

-The Spurs are 36-7 SU and 24-18 ATS on their home court, with the ‘under’ going 22-20. San Antonio has been winning its home endeavors by an average score of 98-89.

-Phoenix guard/forward Grant Hill missed Game 4 due to a groin injury, and is listed as ‘questionable’ versus the Spurs for Game 5.

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Crunch time arrives on Tuesday night

Three teams on the brink of elimination take to the court on Tuesday night, as Phoenix, Dallas and Houston all need to win or suffer a first-round playoff exit. Also on the schedule for Tuesday night is Game 5 between Detroit and Philadelphia, where the winner will take an important 3-2 series lead.

The Suns stayed alive with a 105-86 win as a 3.5-point favorite in Game 4 on Sunday, and they’ll need to find a way to win again on Tuesday or this series is over. Phoenix won on Sunday by turning over the offense to Raja Bell and Boris Diaw. Bell scored a team-high 27 points, while Diaw had his best game of the series so far, nearly recording a triple-double with 20 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists. Amare Stoudemire, who had led Phoenix in scoring in their three losses, was held to only seven points and nine rebounds. The Spurs’ big shooters also came up short in Game 4, as Tony Parker was limited to 18 points while Tim Duncan had 14 points and Manu Ginobili netted only 10 points.

The Mavericks will suffer their second straight first-round playoff exit on Tuesday night unless they can pull off a miraculous comeback. The Hornets stung the Mavericks 97-84 as a 5-point underdog in Game 4 on Sunday night. David West dropped in 24 points and grabbed nine rebounds for New Orleans, while Chris Paul rebounded from a lackluster Game 3 with 16 points, seven rebounds and eight assists. Dirk Nowitzki led Dallas with 22 points and 13 rebounds, while Jason Terry chipped in with 20 points. The Jason Kidd experiment continued to look like a failure as the veteran point guard was held to three points, four rebounds and three assists before being ejected for a flagrant foul in the fourth quarter.

Tracy McGrady and the Houston Rockets are also staring at a familiar first round exit on Tuesday night. McGrady has never made it past Round 1 in his career and he’ll need to lead Houston to three straight wins now to break that curse. Utah took a 3-1 series lead on Saturday with an 86-82 win as a 9-point favorite. Six different Jazz players scored in double-figures, with Deron Williams leading the way with 17 points and nine assists. Mehmet Okur and Carlos Boozer each had a double-double, as Okur had 14 points and 18 rebounds and Boozer posted 14 points and 14 rebounds. McGrady led the Rockets with 23 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists.

The Pistons and 76ers clash in Game 5 of their series Tuesday night after going back and forth for the first four games. Philly won Game 1 and 3, while Detroit struck back after each loss to take Game 2 and 4. In Game 4 the Pistons won 93-84 as a 5.5-point favorite behind a solid showing from all of their regulars. Tayshaun Prince led Detroit with 23 points and Rasheed Wallace delivered 20 points and 10 rebounds. Richard Hamilton and Chauncey Billups each scored 18 points in the win. Thaddeus Young led the 76ers with 15 points and nine rebounds, while Andre Miller and Willie Green each had 13 points. Andre Iguodala struggled and had 12 points on 4-of-16 shooting.

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(7) Philadelphia (42-44, 45-38-3 ATS) at (2) Detroit (61-25, 47-38-1 ATS)

Having alternated wins and losses in the first four games of this best-of-7 series, the Pistons and 76ers now head back to Motown for a critical Game 5 at the Palace of Auburn Hills.

Detroit suffered an ugly 20-point loss in Philadelphia in Game 3, then came out in Sunday’s Game 4 and trailed by 10 points at halftime. But the heavily favored Pistons turned up the intensity in the second half and outscored the 76ers 67-38 en route to a 93-84 victory, cashing as a 5½-point road chalk.

The Pistons are now 6-2 SU and ATS in their last eight games, while Philadelphia is 2-6 SU and ATS in its last eight. However, Detroit’s last three losses have come against the 76ers, while each of Philly’s last three wins have come against the Pistons. Finally, the straight-up winner is 12-0 ATS in each of the teams’ last 12 games.

These squads have split their eight meetings this season, with Philly holding a slim 5-3 ATS edge (4-2 ATS in the last six). However, the winner has covered in each of the last seven head-to-head battles. Also, with Detroit’s Game 4 win, the favorite in this rivalry is on a 14-7-1 ATS roll, and the road team is 9-4 ATS in the last 13 matchups, with the Sixers cashing in four of their last five visits to Motown.

Detroit, which has lost six of its last eight playoff games, is in the midst of negative ATS trends of 7-12-1 in the playoffs (2-8 ATS last 10), 7-17-1 as a playoff chalk (2-8 last 10 as a playoff favorite) and 4-8 against the Atlantic Division. On the bright side, Flip Saunders’ squad 4-1 ATS in its last five home games and 4-1 ATS in its last five when playing on one day of rest.

Philadelphia remains on positive ATS runs of 15-8-1 as a pup, 7-3 as a road underdog, 10-4 on the road, 11-4-1 after a SU loss and 9-4 against the Central Division. However, the Sixers are just 5-13-1 ATS in their last 19 playoff games as an underdog, 6-12-3 ATS in their last 21 in conference quarterfinal games and 2-6 against the Eastern Conference.

The under is 3-1 in this playoff series, 6-2 in the last eight meetings overall, 12-4 in Detroit’s last 16 overall (4-1 last four), 14-3 in Detroit’s last 17 against the Eastern Conference, 8-2 in Detroit’s last 10 as a favorite, 5-1 in Philadelphia’s last six against the Central Division and 5-1 in Philadelphia’s last six first-round playoff games. Conversely, the over is on streaks of 5-1 for the 76ers on the road, 4-0 for the 76ers on Tuesdays and 11-3 for the Pistons on Tuesdays.



(7) Dallas (52-34, 36-46-4 ATS) at (2) New Orleans (59-27, 52-32-2 ATS)

The Hornets attempt to put the finishing touches on their first-round playoff series against the Mavericks when this battle resumes back in the Big Easy.

New Orleans bounced back from a 10-point road loss in Game 3 with a 97-84 rout of the Mavericks on Sunday, cashing as a 4½-point underdog as the Hornets won in Dallas for the first time in more than 10 years. Now Byron Scott’s team returns home, where it is 4-0 against the Mavs this year, including a 104-92 win in Game 1 and a 127-103 beat-down in Game 2.

Dallas, which got outshot 50 percent to 36 percent in Sunday’s defeat, is now mired in slumps of 2-5 SU and 2-7 ATS going back to the regular season. Also, including the two losses at New Orleans in this series, Avery Johnson’s club has dropped four consecutive road games both SU and ATS. What’s more, since taking a 2-0 series lead in the 2006 NBA Finals against Miami, the Mavs are 2-11 SU in the playoffs (4-9 ATS), including eight straight road playoff defeats (2-6 ATS).

The home team had won the first seven head-to-head meetings this season, going 7-0 ATS, before the Hornets’ upset victory in Game 4. Still, the favorite is 16-6-1 ATS in the last 23 series clashes (6-1 ATS in the last seven). Finally, the past six battles between these division rivals have been double-digit routs.

The Hornets, who sported the league’s third-best ATS mark in the regular season, are on a multitude of positive pointspread streaks, including 41-19-1 overall, 7-2 in conference quarterfinal games, 10-4 against the Western Conference, 7-1-1 on Tuesdays, 45-22 at home, 19-7 as a home favorite and 19-9-1 when going on one day of rest. On the downside, New Orleans is just 2-6-1 ATS in its last nine following a spread-cover.

Dallas is 38-18-1 in its last 57 against Southwest Division rivals and 10-2 ATS in its last 12 as a playoff underdog. Conversely, the Mavs are stuck in ATS funks of 2-5 as an underdog (all on the road), 0-4 on the road, 0-5 on Tuesdays, 1-7 in first-round postseason action and 3-9 after a non-cover.

The under was the play in the last two contests in Dallas, but the over hit in the first two games of this series in New Orleans and is 4-0 in the four meetings in New Orleans this season. The over is also on runs of 11-1 for the Mavericks as an underdog, 9-4 for the Mavericks on the road, 17-6-2 for the Hornets as a home chalk and 11-4-2 for the Hornets on Tuesdays. However, the under is 4-1 in the Mavs’ last five on one day of rest and 4-0 in New Orleans’ last four on one day of rest.


(6) Phoenix (56-30, 41-42-3 ATS) at (3) San Antonio (59-27, 39-45-2)

Having staved off elimination with an impressive home victory on Sunday, the Suns once again face a win-or-go-home situation when they head back to Texas for Game 5 against the Spurs at the AT&T Center.

Phoenix opened the playoffs with a pair of heartbreaking losses in San Antonio, then came home on Friday night and got steamrolled 115-99 as a seven-point chalk, giving the team its first three-game losing streak of the season. But with their backs against the wall, the Suns came out swinging Sunday and scored a wire-to-wire 105-86 victory as a 3½-point home favorite. After watching the Spurs shoot 56 percent from the field in Game 3, Phoenix ratcheted up the defense and limited San Antonio to 39 percent shooting.

The Spurs, who saw a five-game overall winning streak and a nine-game playoff winning streak end with Sunday’s defeat, got 32 combined points from Tony Parker, Tim Duncan and Manu Ginobili after the trio went for 84 points in Game 3. Although San Antonio covered the spread in Games 1 and 3, it is still just 4-7 ATS in its last 11 contests (3-2 ATS at home).

On Sunday, the favorite cashed for just the second time in eight series meetings between these rivals this season. Overall, the teams have split the eight battles, with the winner going 7-1 ATS.

Despite their recent surge, the Spurs are in the midst of ATS funks of 2-5 against the Pacific Division, 2-7 after a SU defeat and 1-5 after a double-digit loss. On the positive end for San Antonio, it is on ATS streaks of 6-2 in first-round playoff games, 14-3-1 as a playoff chalk, 7-0 as a playoff favorite of five to 10½ points, 6-2 at home and 7-3 when playing on one day of rest.

The Suns are still on positive pointspread trends of 13-6-1 against the Western Conference and 7-2 on Tuesdays, but they’re 2-6 ATS in their last eight as a road underdog and 1-7 ATS in their past eight after a spread-cover.

The under cashed in all four regular-season meetings between these squads, but the over was the play in the first three games of this playoff series before Game 4 stayed under the total. However, the over is still on runs of 8-1 for the Suns as a road underdog, 12-4 for the Suns as an underdog of five to 10½ points, 5-1 for the Suns in first-round playoff action, 4-1 for the Suns on Tuesdays, 6-1 for the Spurs overall, 4-0 for the Spurs as a favorite, 5-1 for the Spurs against the Pacific Division and 5-2 for the Spurs at home.

Finally, the over is 4-1 in the last five head-to-head playoff meetings in San Antonio.


(4) Utah (57-29, 48-38 ATS) at (5) Houston (56-30, 49-35-2 ATS)

The Jazz head back to Houston looking to end the Rockets’ season for the second straight year when these teams clash at the Toyota Center in Game 5 of their first-round series.

Utah stole the first two games in Houston, then returned home for Game 3 on Thursday and suffered a last-second two-point loss. But the home team finally held serve on Saturday, with the Jazz pulling out an 86-82 victory despite going 0-for-14 from three-point range. However, the Rockets, who shot just 36.7 percent in Game 4, cashed as an 8½-point underdog, meaning the road team and underdog are both 4-0 ATS in this series.

When these two squared off in last year’s opening round of the postseason, the home team went 6-0 SU before the Jazz stole Game 7 in Houston. Including that Game 7 clincher, the road team is on 6-2 SU and 7-1 ATS roll in this rivalry (all as an underdog). However, Utah is still on an 8-3 ATS run against the Rockets (7-4 SU), winning four straight games in the Toyota Center and going 5-0 ATS in the last five in Houston.

Utah is still 9-3 SU and ATS in its last 12 overall. Meanwhile, the Rockets are 2-5 SU (3-4 ATS) in their last seven overall, a downturn that comes on the heels of a 5-0 SU and ATS streak. Finally, the straight-up winner is 13-1 ATS in Houston’s last 14 contests, the lone exception coming Saturday.

The Rockets had failed to cover in seven straight playoff games (all against the Jazz) before getting the money in the last two. Still, Houston remains on pointspread slides of 0-4 as playoff favorite, 2-7 in first-round playoff games and 2-4 against the Northwest Division. On the bright side, Houston is on pointspread streaks of 27-12-1 overall, 16-6-1 at home, 20-6 after a spread-cover and 5-1 when playing on two days’ rest.

The Jazz remain on a bevy of positive ATS streaks, including 9-3 overall, 25-10 against the Western Conference, 8-3 against the Southwest Division, 38-18-1 against winning teams, 4-1 on the road, 6-1 as an underdog (all on the road) and 13-4 against the Southwest Division. However, they’re 7-16 ATS in their past 23 games played on two days’ rest.

The under is 3-1 in this playoff series, with the lone “over” barely hitting by 1½ points in Game 3. The under is also on runs for Houston of 7-2 overall, 12-3 against the Northwest Division, 9-4 in first-round playoff games, 6-0 at home and 4-0 on Tuesdays. Finally, for Utah, the under is on streaks of 12-4-1 against the Southwest Division, 4-1 on the road, 7-3 overall, 5-1 as an underdog and 16-7 in first-round playoff games.



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Tuesday's best bets

Philadelphia at Detroit -9, 178

For a while there, it looked like Flip Saunders was going to be spending his summer looking for a new job. His Pistons were in serious danger of going down 3-1 against the Atlanta Hawks as they trailed at halftime in Game 4, but Saunders finally figured out what he needed to do to beat the Hawks.

Atlanta had been frustrating the Pistons’ offense and snuffing out Rip Hamilton’s shot, so finally the Pistons started rotating screens to get the ball to Chauncey Billups where he was a threat to drive the lane. That forced Samuel Dalembert to stay in the paint, which in turn opened up the three-point shot for Rasheed Wallace, who nailed three long-range buckets in the second half.

That could be the key to the rest of the series.

Pick: Pistons

Phoenix at San Antonio -5, 197½

As good as the Suns looked in Sunday’s win, let’s keep it in perspective. San Antonio was up 3-0 in the series, none of their starters played more than 29 minutes in the game, and by all accounts, they took a game off.

Now the Spurs are back at home, they’ll be fired up, and everything that worked so well for the Suns on Sunday won’t work this time. The Spurs know how to respond in a situation like this – they haven’t lost back-to-back playoff games since 2006.

As Mike D’Antoni said: "It becomes really a kind of man-up, in your face, who's got the heart, who's got the will, who's got the energy."

That edge will most likely go to San Antonio tonight.

Pick: Spurs

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Early Action Tip Sheet
By Chris David

Tuesday’s NBA slate is stacked with four games, including an early pair of battles from The Palace of Auburn Hills and “The Big Easy”. Homecourt continues to rule the NBA playoffs, watching teams produce a 22-11 straight up record after 33 games. In the 22 victories, the home team has notched an eye opening 20-2 record against the spread.
In case you’re curious, Toronto lost to Orlando 104-103 on Apr. 22 but managed to cover as a 6½ point road underdog and Houston covered as an 8½-point underdog in an 86-82 road loss to Utah last Saturday.

If you delve into the 11 wins by the visitor, the point-spread didn’t play a factor at all. Nobody ever said it was easy picking winners, but that’s all gamblers have had to do this postseason.

It appears that the books have taken notice of the recent run and they’ve pushed the numbers up on Detroit and New Orleans in their Game 5 battles against Philadelphia and Dallas.

In the first two games at The Palace, Detroit opened as an eight-point favorite in both games and closed at 9 and 10½. For Game 5, the number opened at 9 and 9½ at most books and will most likely close at 10.

New Orleans was tabbed as a 3½ and four-point home favorite against Dallas in Game’s 1 and 2 but is now laying anywhere from six to seven points in a possible closeout Game 5 for Tuesday.

Once again the Sixers (+450) and Mavericks (+220) are both catching generous money-line prices tonight. Philadelphia already struck gold in Game 1 (+450) and Game 3 (+190) as a live ‘dog and is listed at a plus-650 (Bet $100 to win $650) on the series price.

Both games tip at 7:05 p.m. EDT, so let’s take a closer look.

Gambling Notes

Philadelphia at Detroit

The best-of-seven series is knotted at 2-2 after the Pistons stopped the Sixers 93-84 on Sunday in Game 4. Detroit outscored Philadelphia by 19 points (57-38) in the second half en route to the come from behind victory.

It’s surprising that Philadelphia is tied with Detroit since its best player, Andre Iguodala, hasn’t even shown up in the first four games. The former University of Arizona standout is shooting a dreadful 22.5 percent from the field for an average of 10.5 points per game in the series.

Detroit owns a 35-8 SU and 27-16 ATS mark at home this year, while Philadelphia has gone 19-24 SU and 24-18 ATS on the road.

Philadelphia has shot better from the field than Detroit in three of the four battles. Neither club has shot better than 37 percent from 3-point land in any of the games.

The total has been hovering between 177 and 178 for Game 5. The ‘under’ has gone 3-1 in the first four games.

Last year Detroit played in two Game 5’s during the postseason. The Pistons were 0-2 both SU and ATS in both of its Game 5 appearances, losing to Cleveland (109-107) and Chicago (108-92).

The Pistons are 35-10 SU and 26-19 ATS on one day of rest, while the Sixers are 19-26 SU and 20-23-2 ATS in this same situation.

Dallas at New Orleans

The Hornets inched closer to a first round series win by stopping the Mavericks 97-84 on Sunday in Game 3. New Orleans shot a blistering 50 percent (38-of-76) from the field and knocked down 17-of-21 free throws (81%) for the road victory.

Prior to Sunday’s win, the Hornets were 0-2 both SU and ATS in their two previous trips to Dallas.

The Mavericks’ downfall in this series has been their offense. Even in their lone victory (Game 3) the team only shot 42 percent from the field, including an inconsistent 5-of-17 (29%) effort from downtown. Fortunately, the Hornets were just as bad from the floor in the loss (37.9%).

Dallas’ acquisition of Jason Kidd hasn’t worked out for the team in the playoffs. The point guard has struggled from the field (37%) in all four games and his been outplayed by the Hornets’ Chris Paul (24.8 PPG, 11.3 APG) in every aspect of the game.

The Mavericks haven’t been a good road team this year, going 17-26 SU and 19-24 ATS. Meanwhile, Byron Scott’s team has outscored teams 103-94 at home en route to a 32-11 SU and 28-15 ATS mark.

All four meetings in New Orleans between the two teams this year have gone ‘over’ the total. Oddsmakers set Game 5’s number at 193.

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