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Thursday's NBA Tip Sheet

Thursday's NBA Tip Sheet

76ers facing elimination
By Brian Edwards

Detroit never dreamed it would have to travel to Philadelphia for a Game 6 before this best-of-seven battle started. Turns out, the Pistons have to be thrilled to arrive in the City of Brotherly Love with a 3-2 advantage.

You see, Flip Saunders’ team was staring at a 3-1 deficit when it went to intermission of Game 4 trailing the 76ers by a 46-36 count. The Pistons had been hammered by Mo Cheeks’ club in Game 3, and Game 4 wasn’t looking any different.

Alas, Detroit (62-25 straight up, 48-38 against the spread) flipped the switch ‘on’ and it’s been all Pistons ever since. They erased the double-digit deficit within a few minutes of starting the third quarter, eventually capturing a 93-84 win as 5 ½-point road favorites.

Gamblers backing Detroit in the second half of Game 4 were loving life, as it easily took the cash as a 5½-point favorite. In that scenario, the Pistons were actually the 4½-point underdogs (for the game) since they already trailed by 10 at halftime.

Next, Detroit returned to the Palace of Auburn Hills and dealt out woodshed treatment. The Pistons won a 98-81 decision as 9 ½-point home ‘chalk.’ The 179 combined points barely slipped ‘over’ the 178½-point total.

Rasheed Wallace set the tone in Game 5, draining 8-of-12 shot attempts en route to a 19-point effort. In addition, Wallace pulled down six rebounds, swatted away six shots and dished out three assists. Chauncey Billups scored 21 points and handed out 12 assists.

Las Vegas Sports Consultants opened the Pistons as five-point road favorites for Game 6. The total started at 179. As of Wednesday night, most spots still had Detroit at five with the total shifted to 178. Bettors can take the 76ers to win outright for a plus 200 return (risk $100 to win $200).

Philadelphia (42-45 SU, 45-39 ATS) owns a 23-20 SU record to go with a 21-20-2 ATS mark at home. The ‘under’ is 25-18 for the 76ers in their home outings.

Meanwhile, Detroit is 26-17 SU on the road but just 20-22 versus the number. The ‘under’ is 48-38 overall for the Pistons, 23-20 in their road games.

Tip-off is scheduled for 8:05 p.m. Eastern on Wednesday.

Bonus Nuggets to follow at the conclusion of Wednesday’s games.

vegasinsider.com

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The sleeping giant wakes: Pistons poised for Game 6
By RYAN STETSON

If looks could kill, Rasheed Wallace and his Detroit Pistons wouldn’t have to worry about the 76ers in Game 6 – those fellas from Philly would already be six feet under.

After dropping a three-point dagger late in the third quarter of Game 5, Rasheed Wallace stood still and shot a couple more daggers down at Philadelphia’s bench as Maurice Cheeks desperately tried to pull his team together with a timeout.

It was just the kind of glare Detroit bettors have been waiting for.

From there, Philadelphia hung around for a while in the fourth quarter, but it was much too late and the Pistons got out of Detroit with a 98-81 win as 10-point favorites.

Now the Pistons have a shot at finishing the series in Game 6 at Philly as five-point faves.

This series isn’t anything new to Detroit backers. Sometimes these Pistons need a slap in the face to wake up and that’s just what happened when they headed into Game 4 down 2-1 in the series to the upstart Sixers. Well, maybe it was more of a forearm to the nose in Game 3 than a slap - Andre Iguodala’s forearm breaking Antonio McDyess’ nose, to be exact.

Maybe that’s why McDyess, who’s normally more of a quiet leader, wasn’t in the mood for another embarrassing effort after flying 1000 miles to be put under so that his nose could be reset in time for him to play Game 4. Maybe that’s why he decided to step up and give his teammates a piece of his mind in the locker room at halftime.

“I think after losing Game 3 at Philly and trailing by 10 at halftime of Game 4, the Pistons flipped that switch and started playing championship level basketball,” says Covers Expert handicapper Ted Sevransky. “Philly's 10-point lead was a 10-point deficit by the end of the third quarter of Game 4 and they were never in contention in Game 5, trailing by double digits throughout.”

It’s true. Now the Pistons are playing like everybody knew they could. Rip Hamilton and Chauncey Billups are just heating up. Rasheed Wallace is hitting big shots and Tayshaun Prince is doing a little bit of everything. They’re finally playing their game, their way instead of letting Philadelphia suck them into a game they’re uncomfortable with.

“For Detroit to control the series it is all about tempo - if Philadelphia is stopped from running the offense stalls completely,” says Covers Expert David Malinsky. “That is what the Pistons were able to do all night on Tuesday. So Game 6 becomes an early battle of wills - Detroit trying to slow the game down, and Philly trying to speed it up.”

It’s worth considering that Andre Iguodala had his best game of the series in a losing effort on Tuesday, chipping in 21 points, six assists and five rebounds, so that’s a positive sign for Philly backers. Malinsky also points out that the experienced Pistons are 2-9 against the number recently when playing a road playoff game on just one day of rest.

If you ask me, though, these young, plucky 76ers had their chance earlier in the series. The Pistons won’t give them another.

The books have set Thursday's total at 187 points.

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Thursday's best NBA bets
COVERS.com

Detroit at Philadelphia +5, 178

Not many people actually believe that the Sixers are the better team in this series, but the way the Pistons have played at times, their intensity has been rightfully brought into question.

Of course, there  was the Game 1 incident with Rasheed Wallace playfully peering in to the Sixers’ huddle at a crucial moment of the game. That move prompted TNT’s Magic Johnson to question the Pistons’ focus and intensity. And there have been  at various low points for the Pistons throughout the series since then.

"At some points, we've been lackadaisical," Saunders said. "That's not taking anything away from the Sixers because they play hard all the time. Sometimes, we match their challenge and sometimes we don't."

But things seem to have changed for the better in Detroit. The veteran lineup seems to have finally woken up and realized they’ll have to fight for this series. For example, there was no music blaring from the Pistons’ locker room before Game 5; instead the players were watching a replay of the previous game and going over their game plan.

On top of that, Chauncey Billups has finally asserted himself. The Pistons have so many All Stars, it’s hard to determine sometimes who needs to step up and take control. Wallace was having trouble against Samuel Dalembert, Rip Hamilton couldn’t get his shot off. Finally, they decided to rotate screens to get the ball to Billups and let him use his size to drive to the basket and create open shots for teammates.

Billups has 39 points and 19 assists over the last two games and the Pistons have two wins.

Pick: Pistons

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NBA PLAYOFFS

EASTERN CONFERENCE

(2) Detroit (62-25, 48-38-1 ATS) at (7) Philadelphia (42-45, 45-39-3 ATS)


The Pistons, who have already had this series extended longer than they desired, hope the momentum built in a Game 5 win at home will carry over to the Wachovia Center as they try to put the 76ers away in Game 6.

Detroit ripped Philadelphia 98-81 Tuesday night to easily cover as a 10-point home chalk, the first time in this series that a team won or covered in consecutive games. The Pistons are now 7-2 SU and ATS in their last nine games, while Philly is a lowly 2-7 SU and ATS in its last nine. However, Detroit’s last three losses have come against the 76ers, and likewise, the Sixers’ last three wins have come against the Pistons. Finally, the straight-up winner is on a 12-0 ATS tear in each of these team’s last 12 outings.

Detroit is 5-4 SU this season in this rivalry, while Philadelphia is 5-4 ATS. The winner has covered in each of the last eight head-to-head battles, and the favorite is on a 15-7-1 ATS spree in the last 23 clashes. In addition, the road team is 9-5 ATS in the last 14 matchups, and the Pistons are 5-2 ATS in their last seven trips to the Wachovia, including a 93-84 Game 4 victory laying 5½ points.

Despite posting two straight wins, the Pistons have still dropped six of their last nine playoff games and are 7-12-1 ATS in their last 20 postseason contests (3-8 ATS in their last 11) and 8-17-1 ATS in their past 26 as a playoff chalk (3-8 ATS in their last 11 as a playoff favorite). Also, going back to the regular season, Detroit is mired in a 5-11 ATS funk as a favorite. However, the team sports positive ATS trends of 5-1 on one day of rest, 6-2 against the Eastern Conference and 17-7-3 in first-round playoff games.

The 76ers are on a 5-14-1 ATS freefall as a playoff underdog and carry further negative ATS trends of 6-13-3 in first-round playoff contests, 2-5 against winning teams, 2-5 at home and 1-5 on one day of rest. On the positive side of the ledger, Philly is 11-5-1 ATS in its last 17 after a SU loss and 7-2 ATS in its last nine after a double-digit defeat.

The under for Detroit is on runs of 12-5 overall, 8-1 on the highway, 8-2 on one day of rest, 14-4 against the Eastern Conference, 10-3 after a SU win, 8-0 after a SU win of more than 10 points and 17-8 against the Atlantic Division. For Philly, the under is on a 4-0 streak at Wachovia and is 5-0 in its last five after a double-digit loss and 5-2 in its last seven first-round playoff games.

Finally, the under is 3-2 in this playoff series – Tuesday’s game barely cleared the 178½-point total – and is 6-3 in the last nine clashes between these two

ATS ADVANTAGE: UNDER

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