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NBA News and Notes May 4

NBA News and Notes May 4

Sunday's NBA Tip Sheet
By Brad Young

There are just two games on Sunday’s NBA playoff schedule, but the two matchups will be played under vastly different circumstances. Boston and Atlanta collide in a Game 7 to conclude their first-round series, while Utah and the Los Angeles Lakers begin their second-round series.

Many experts predicted that Boston, armed with the league’s best record, would steamroll through an Atlanta team that didn’t even play .500 ball during the regular season. This series has seen the home team win every game straight up and against the spread.

The last time Atlanta won a basketball game in Boston was January 24, 2007 as a four-point underdog, 82-76. The Hawks then went 0-3 SU and 1-2 ATS the next three road games against the Celtics before this series started.

Now let’s break down both of Sunday’s affairs in detail.

**Hawks (8) at Celtics (1)**

-The Las Vegas Hilton installed Boston as a 14½-point home ‘chalk’ over Atlanta, with the total set at 190. ABC Sports will provide coverage of Sunday’s Game 7 beginning at 1:00 p.m. ET.

-Atlanta extended this series by winning Friday’s Game 6 against Boston as a nine-point home underdog, 103-100. The combined 203 points toppled the 189-point closing total, helping the ‘over’ cash the fourth consecutive contest in this series.

-This series appeared over when the Celtics jumped out to a 32-20 lead after the first quarter. However, the Hawks outscored Boston in the second quarter, 29-18, and in the fourth quarter, 24-18, to prevail.

-Atlanta shot a blistering 48 percent (33-of-69) from the field, with all five starters reaching double digits in scoring. Forward Marvin Williams led the scoring charge with 18 points on 6-of-9 shooting, while point guard Mike Bibby contributed 17, six rebounds and seven assists.

-Boston shot 46 percent (38-of-82) from the field, but struggled behind the arc by converting just 21 percent (4-of-19). Power forward Kevin Garnett led all scorers with 22 points along with seven rebounds, while Ray Allen added 20 and six.

-Atlanta has struggled to a 12-32 SU and 17-26 ATS road record, with the ‘under’ going 24-20. The Hawks have been losing their road endeavors by an average score of 101-94.

-Boston maintains a 38-6 SU and 28-15 ATS home ledger, with the ‘under’ going 25-17. The Celtics have been winning those affairs by an average score of 101-87.

**Jazz (5) at Lakers (1)**

-The Las Vegas Hilton opened Los Angeles as a seven-point home favorite over Utah, with the total set at 213. ABC Sports starts its coverage of Game 1 at 3:30 p.m. ET.

-The Lakers are listed as a $4.00 series price ‘chalk’ to win this series, while the Jazz are $3.00 underdogs. This seven-game series will follow the 2-2-1-1-1 format.

-Utah eliminated Houston in six games after winning Friday night as a seven-point home ‘chalk,’ 113-91. The combined 204 points soared ‘over’ the 180-point closing total, ending back-to-back ‘under’ outings.

-The Jazz jumped out to a 10-point lead after the first-quarter (32-22), but really took control of the game by outscoring the Rockets in the third quarter, 27-11. Utah won the rebounding battle, 49-40, while shooting 47 percent (41-of-88) from the field and 46 percent (10-of-22) from behind the arc.

-All five starters netted double digits in points, along with two substitutes. Point guard Deron Williams led the charge with 25 points and nine assists, while center Mehmet Okur added 19 and 13 rebounds.

-Los Angeles wrapped up its four-game sweep of Denver Monday as a five-point road ‘chalk,’ 107-101. The combined 208 points never seriously threatened the 225½-point closing total, enabling the ‘under’ to cash the third consecutive contest.

-The Lakers never looked back after outscoring the Nuggets in the first quarter, 32-23, winning the game despite getting outrebounded (50-45). Guard Kobe Bryant led all scorers with 31 points on 12-of-24 shooting, while Pau Gasol added 21 and seven rebounds.

-Los Angeles went 3-1 SU and ATS versus Utah this season, with the ‘over’ also going 3-1. The Lakers won the last meeting March 20 as a six-point road underdog, 106-95, while the combined 201 points went ‘under’ the 217-point closing total.

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(8) Atlanta (40-48, 40-47-1 ATS) at (1) Boston (69-19, 55-31-2 ATS)

After pulling off yet another stunning upset at home on Friday, the Hawks head back north to Boston looking to complete the biggest upset in NBA playoff history when they battle the Celtics in a decisive Game 7.

Atlanta, which is in the playoffs for the first time since 1999, entered this first-round series against the NBA’s best team as an overwhelming underdog, then proceeded to suffer two humiliating double-digit losses in the first two games. But the Hawks have rebounded to win three of the last four – all at home – including Friday’s come-from-behind 103-100 victory as a nine-point underdog. They fell behind by 12 points after the first quarter and outscored Boston 24-18 in the fourth quarter to steal the win.

Despite Friday’s defeat, Boston is still 7-3 SU and ATS in its last 10 games dating to the regular season, while the Hawks are just 5-8 SU and ATS in their last 13, including a current 3-6 SU and ATS slide.

The straight-up winner is 29-1 ATS in Boston’s last 30 games, including 11-0 ATS in the last 11, and the winner has cashed in each of Atlanta’s last 13 contests.

Boston still has a 6-3 advantage against Atlanta this year (5-4 ATS), with all six wins coming by double digits. In fact, the Celtics’ three wins in this series have come by margins of 23, 19 and 25 points, respectively. The home team has cashed in nine of the last 11 clashes in this rivalry, going 6-0 SU and ATS in this series. Finally, Boston is 5-1 ATS in its last five home starts against Atlanta.

The Celtics, who had the league’s best regular-season ATS mark, are on a 13-5 ATS run going back to the regular season and are on further positive pointspread streaks of 22-8 overall, 8-2 on one day of rest, 9-0 overall at the Garden, 7-0 at home against teams with a losing road mark, 13-6 after a SU loss and 41-20-2 against teams with a losing overall record. However, they’re 3-8 ATS in their last 11 after giving up 100 points or more in the previous contest.

The Hawks are still on ATS slides of 1-5 on the road (0-4 last four), 11-25 on the highway against teams with a winning home record, 3-8 after a SU win and 2-6 after a spread-cover. The one positive: They’re 5-0 ATS in their last five games when their opponent allowed 100 points or more in the previous outing.

The first five meetings between these teams this year – including Games 1 and 2 of this playoff series – stayed under the total. However, since then, the over is on a 4-0 run, with Friday’s game flying over the 189-point posted price. The over is also on runs for Atlanta of 11-1 when playing on one day of rest, 10-4 against the Atlantic Division, 25-10 on Sundays, 11-3 following a SU win and 9-3 following a spread-cover.

Conversely, for the Celtics, the under is still on streaks of 5-2 at home, 8-2 at home versus teams with a losing road record, 9-5 in first-round playoff games and 13-5 after scoring 100 or more points. Finally, the under is 12-2 in the last 14 head-to-head meetings in Boston.



(4) Utah (4-2, 3-3 ATS) at (1) L.A. Lakers (4-0 SU and ATS)

Less than 48 hours after finally dispatching of the pesky Rockets in six games, the Jazz head to Hollywood to begin their best-of-7 Western Conference semifinal series against the top-seeded Lakers.

Utah turned on the jets in the second half Friday night against Houston, outscoring the Rockets 55-37 to cruise to a 113-91 Game 6 victory, cashing as a 7 ½-point home favorite to halt an 0-3 ATS slide. The Jazz, who made it all the way to the Western Conference finals last year, have advanced past the first round in consecutive seasons for the first time since 1999-2000.

The Lakers have been idle since Monday, when they completed a four-game first-round sweep of the Nuggets with a 107-101 road victory. Los Angeles got the cash as a four-point chalk, covering in all four games against Denver. The Lakers averaged 119.8 points per game in the series, while holding the high-scoring Nuggets to 101.5 ppg.

Los Angeles went 3-1 SU and ATS against the Jazz this year, including two double-digit wins at home by margins of 14 and 10 points. The home team is 7-3 SU and ATS in the last 10 meetings in this rivalry, and the winner has cashed in each of the last 10 series battles.

Going back to the regular season, the Lakers have won eight straight games, going 7-1 ATS, including 5-0 ATS in the last five. L.A., which has scored at least 102 points in 14 straight games, has won eight in a row at Staples Center, going 4-0 ATS in the last four after failing to cash in its previous seven home contests. For the season, the Lakers are 32-11 in their building, but only 22-20 ATS.

Utah is on a 13-5 roll (12-6 ATS), but Jerry Sloan’s squad is only 3-4 (4-3 ATS) on the highway during this stretch. Also, even though the Jazz won two of three games in Houston in the opening round, they’re still just 19-25 SU and ATS on the highway this year.

L.A. is on pointspread streaks of 4-0 when playing on three or more days’ rest, 4-0 in conference semifinal games, 5-0 against teams with a winning record and 14-4 when laying between 7 and 10½ points. Meanwhile, the Jazz are on positive ATS runs of 10-4 overall, 39-19-1 against winning teams, 25-11 against the Western Conference, 14-6 against the Pacific Division, 7-2 after a spread-cover, 23-9 after a double-digit victory and 6-2 when playing on one day of rest.

The over is 10-4 in the last 14 meetings in this rivalry, including 6-1 in the last seven clashes at Staples Center. Furthermore, the over is on runs of 6-2 for the Lakers on Sundays, 4-1 for the Jazz on Sundays and 20-6 for the Jazz against the Pacific Division. On the other hand, the under is 6-1 in Utah’s last seven road games, 4-2 for the Jazz in the playoffs this year (3-0 on the road) and 3-0 for the Lakers overall.


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Sunday's best NBA bets

Atlanta at Boston -14½, 190

Game 7? It still seems a bit strange to think this series went the distance after Boston dominated the first two games, but Atlanta has it going and the Celtics look shaky, especially as 14 1/2-point favorites in a winner-take-all.

On home court, Boston just needs to avoid the big offensive and defensive lapses that have helped Atlanta back into the series. The Celtics should get it done to move on, but this is a huge line for a Game 7.

Pick: Hawks

Utah at L.A. Lakers -7½, 213

It could be a Showtime afternoon in L.A. today when Kobe Bryant and the Lakers get back on the court for the first time since disposing of Denver in four straight games.

The rest should be good for the team and Bryant, who will reportedly be named the league’s MVP later this week, should be ready to put on a show.

"That's what you've got to think about now: Do you play for Kobe, do you play for everybody else, do you try to balance," Utah’s Kyle Korver told reporters. "That's what we've got to figure out, and we'll probably figure it out as the series goes on."

Pick: Lakers

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