Friday's NBA Tip Sheet

Friday's NBA Tip Sheet

Friday's Game 6 Preview
By Josh Jacobs

The headline on Friday should underline the importance that all three games carry 3-2 leads. Either looking at the fact that three teams are on the cusp of advancing, or the other three are on the verge of calling it a season, there’s no doubting the fact that electrified action in hoops is about to commence for the masses.

Beginning at 7:00 p.m. EDT, Cleveland will travel to the Nations Capital for the fifth time this season. The Cavaliers are 1-3 SU and 2-2 ATS when playing in Washington and the ‘over’ has been a golden play at 3-1.

Wednesday was truly the most exciting action during the playoffs between these two teams. On the verge of calling it a season, the Wizards’ Caron Butler extended the life of this first-round series by driving past Cleveland’s Lebron James with 3.9 seconds remaining on the clock.

James had the opportunity to nullify the Butler lay-up, and Washington’s run into the postseason, when he drove through the paint. But a misfired touch off the glass with the buzzer sounding guaranteed Game 6 in D.C.

Snapping a five-game playoff road losing streak, the Wizards solidified the win by shooting 40.8 percent from the field. The Cavs where dominant in almost every other category in the box score, out assisting (18 to 13) and out blocking (7 to 3) Washington, but the final score was the tell-all tale.

In the last 10 meetings between these two squads, the home team has gone onto out shoot its opponent 47 percent to 41 percent from the floor. More specifically, in the last four home games, the Wizards have been red hot at firing from the floor. Washington has gone on to drain 50 percent of its shots compared to Cleveland’s 42 percent (just in Washington in the last four games).

Sticking to the scoring topic, jot down in your notebook that with most books opening this contest at a total of 187½, the Wizards have gone onto to exceed a total of 185, 74 percent of the time at home. The Cavaliers have gone ‘over’ 185 points (the closest number to meter this total in the database) on the road 63 percent of the time. Is it safe to say that expectations are locked on the ‘over’ in Game 6?

The ‘over’ is 14-3 in Washington’s last 17 games at home and is 17-4 in Washington’s last 21 games as the favorite. Bodog.com has listed the Wizards as four-point favorites.

Boston at Atlanta – 8:00 p.m. EDT on ESPN

The Hawks surpassed expectations by many critics when the team found itself all knotted up at 2-2 in the first-round series with the Celtics. With Boston looking like a shadow of itself in the two road losses (getting outscored 199-185) and hurting backers’ wallets in the process (Atlanta was an eight and nine point underdog in Game 3 and 4), the squad returned to the court on Wednesday with an explosive 110-85 win.

The Celtics wiped up the floor, shooting a highly efficient 54 percent and held Atlanta to draining a low total of 28 buckets (41 percent from the field). Exceeding the 187½-point total, this became the third straight ‘over’ play in the last three meetings.

Individually speaking, the Hawks have dropped all three games when their power forward, Josh Smith has scored under 20 points in the series. The same holds true for shooting guard Joe Smith who’s seen his team drop two games when scoring under 20 points.

Still unable to rack up a home win in the postseason, Boston is hoping that Sam Cassell, Leon Powe and the rest of its bench can repeat the performance seen in Game 5. Cassell and Powe combined to post 23 points. Nine of Cassell’s 13 points came during the second half of the contest.

Looking at Atlanta, it’s very evident that the success of this club rests on how Joe Johnson, Mike Bibby and Smith perform as a tandem. In Game 4, the trio was able to manufacture a total of 81 points, hitting 56.3 percent of their shots. But Game 5 told a different story, with the same three finding the hoop for only 45 points (and shooting a low 37.5 percent from the field).

With most books setting Atlanta as eight-point home underdogs, it should be noted that Boston has gone 7-3 ATS when installed between 6 ½ to nine-point visiting favorites.

As a side bar, Game 5 witnessed another plethora of fouls and infractions (41 fouls, three technical and one flagrant). While it might be trivial, but it’s still worth pointing out that this series has produced 224 fouls, five technical fouls and one flagrant. That’s 44.8 fouls per game.

The ‘over’ has gone 8-1 in Atlanta’s last nine game at home, while a 2-6 ATS record in the Hawks last eight overall have placed a poor taste in bettors’ mouths.

Houston at Utah – 10:30 p.m. EDT on ESPN

For backers a 50-35-2 ATS record for the Rockets has been money in the bank. Covering three of the five games played in the postseason, Houston was labeled as a favorite just once. In the 95-69 win over the Jazz (season's lowest scoring game) on Tuesday, the Rockets where able to easily cover the 1½-point spread, while the ‘under’ 182 cleared by 18 points.

The hinge dictating which way the door will swing for Houston remains in the hands of Tracy McGrady. Finishing Game 5 with 29 points, McGrady has been a consistent force, averaging 24.4 PPG with 7.8 RPG and 7.2 APG.

But if Houston continues to hold down Utah into shooting 36.5 percent (the average in Game 5), then we can all look forward to this series going to Game 7. We’re talking about a Jazz team that scored just 16 points in the first and second quarter, only to close out the fourth quarter with just 14 points.

However, the Rockets must be concerned about Utah’s home court advantage, again. Factoring in both regular and postseason play, the Jazz have scored an average of 5.9 points more inside their own building (108 points at home compared to 102.1 PPG on the road). But then again, the Rockets have clamped down on ‘D’ on the road, sacrificing just 93.9 PPG.

Set at rock bottom, most books have now adjusted the total all the way down to 180 ½ points. Throughout the series, the ‘under’ has cashed tickets with a 4-1 record and is 11-5 in the last head-to-head meetings in Utah.

Looking back at the last 10 games indicates that this is the lowest total set in recent memory (dating back to May, 2007).

Buyers beware! The Rockets have lost eight of their last 10 playoff games in Utah.

Houston is 4-9 ATS in its last 13 head-to-head meetings with the Jazz.

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