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Sunday Service Plays

Sunday Service Plays

SPORTS ADVISORS

NBA PLAYOFFS

EASTERN CONFERENCE

(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.

ATS ADVANTAGE: BOSTON


WESTERN CONFERENCE

(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.

ATS ADVANTAGE: L.A. LAKERS and OVER

NATIONAL LEAGUE

N.Y. Mets (15-13) at Arizona (21-9)

The Mets try to continue their dominance of the DBacks and win this three-game series when they send southpaw Johan Santana (3-2, 3.05 ERA) to the mound to face Arizona’s Dan Haren (4-1, 3.13) at Chase Field.

Arizona bounced back from Friday’s 7-2 loss in the series opener and scored a 10-4 victory on Saturday. Despite that result, New York is still 21-7 in the last 28 meetings with the Diamondbacks and 14-3 in the last 17 outings in the Arizona desert.

Arizona, which hasn’t lost two in a row since losing the second and third games of this season, has alternated wins and losses in its last five outings. The DBacks are on streaks of 37-17 at Chase Field (12-4 this season), 8-2 at home against lefties, 35-16 overall against southpaws, 21-7 against the N.L. East.

The Mets have won four of their last six, but they’ve alternated wins and losses in their last five contests on the road, where they are 6-8 for the season.

Santana is 3-1 on the highway this season with a 2.57 ERA and the Mets have won his last three overall, including Tuesday when he held the Pirates to two runs on two hits in 5 2/3 innings of a 5-4 victory. In two career starts against Arizona (both with the Twins, Santana has allowed a total of one run on six hits in 16 innings.

Haren has been perfect in front of the home fans, going 4-0 with a 1.69 ERA, including Monday’s 5-3 win over the Astros when he allowed three runs on five hits in 7 2/3 innings. Prior to that outing Haren hadn’t allowed more than one earned run at Chase Field. In his lone career start against the Mets, Haren allowed two runs on five hits in seven innings of a 3-2 win for the A’s in 2005.

The over is 5-1 in Santana’s six outings in a Mets uniform and 4-1-1 in Haren’s six starts as a DBack.

The under is 6-1-1 in the last eight series matchups, 9-3 in Arizona’s last 12 Sunday games and 16-6-2 in the Mets’ last 24 against winning teams. However, the over is 14-6-1 in New York’s last 21 road games, 6-2-1 in its last nine overall, 8-3-2 in the DBacks’ last 13 home games and 5-2 in Arizona’s last seven when facing a southpaw.

ATS ADVANTAGE: OVER


Chicago Cubs (18-12) at St. Louis (19-12)

The Cubs try to take two of three in this weekend series at Busch Stadium when Jason Marquis (1-1, 4.45 ERA) returns to the mound opposite the Cardinals’ Todd Wellemeyer (2-1, 4.14) in a nationally televised affair.

Chicago scored a 9-3 victory on Saturday after dropping Friday’s contest 5-3 in 11 innings. The Cardinals are now 5-2 in their last seven (all at home) and 13-7 at Busch Stadium this season. Also, the Redbirds are 5-2 in their last seven against Central Division foes.

The Cubs have followed up a six-game winning streak by going 3-6 in their last nine, and they’re just 7-6 on the road. On the bright side, Lou Piniella’s club is on positive runs of 17-9 overall, 9-4 as a road underdog and 25-10 against Central Division foes.

The Cubs went 11-5 against the Cardinals last season, including winning seven of nine in St. Louis.

Marquis was roughed up in his last outing when he allowed five runs on 10 hits in five innings of a 10-7 home loss to the Brewers. In his two road outings this season (both no-decisions), Marquis has given up four runs on 12 hits in 12 innings (3.00 ERA).

Against the Cardinals last season, Marquis made four starts with the Cubs going 3-1, including 2-1 at Busch Stadium. He held the Cardinals to a total of four earned in three of the four starts, with the lone bad outing (six earned runs in five innings) coming in a July 26 start in St. Louis. He ended up with a 3.60 ERA versus the Redbirds in 2007.

Wellemeyer has been feast or famine in six starts for St. Louis, giving up four earned runs or more in three starts, but limiting the opposition to two runs or less in the other three. He’s allowed an identical four runs on seven hits in six innings in his last two, a 7-4 loss in Pittsburgh on April 23 and a 4-3 home loss to the Reds on Monday.

The Cubs are 4-1 in Marquis’ last five outings against N.L. Central Division squads, but just 1-4 in his last five against teams with a winning record. Meanwhile the Cardinals are 12-5 in Wellemeyer’s last 17 starts and 7-3 with him on the hill at home.

The over is 4-1 in Marquis’ five starts this season, 4-1 in his five career outings against St. Louis, 6-1 in his last seven starts overall and 4-0 against N.L. Central Division teams. However the under is 6-2 in his last eight starts on the highway. Also, the over is 4-2 in Wellemeyer’s six outings this season (2-1 in St. Louis), but the under is 5-1 in his last six when facing Central Division foes.

The under is 8-4-1 in the last 13 series meetings at Busch Stadium (1-1 this weekend) and 5-3-2 in the last 10 meetings overall. The under is on further streaks of 40-17-3 for Chicago on the road, 6-2-1 for the Cardinals overall and 5-2-1 for the Cardinals at home.

ATS ADVANTAGE: CHICAGO CUBS


AMERICAN LEAGUE

Tampa Bay (16-14) at Boston (19-13)

It’s a battle of southpaws at Fenway Park when the Rays’ Scott Kazmir (13-9, 3.48 ERA in 2007) makes his season debut against the Red Sox Jon Lester (1-2, 4.31).

Boston, which got swept in Tampa Bay last weekend, is looking to turn the trick on the Rays after crushing Tampa in the first two games of this series by scores of 7-3 and 12-4. Even with the two straight wins, the Red Sox are still just 4-6 in their last 10 games, but Terry Francona’s club is 13-5 at home in 2008 and 40-17 in its last 57 at Fenway dating to last season. Also, the Sox are 15-5 in Lester’s last 20 trips to the mound, including 7-1 against A.L. East foes, 4-1 in his last five on Sundays and 6-2 in his last eight at home.

Tampa Bay is still on an 8-3 run, all against A.L. East opponents. However, the Rays are now 6-7 on the road this season after going 32-86 in their previous 118 on the highway. With Kazmir on the hill, they are on streaks of 12-5 against winning teams, 4-1 on Sundays and 4-1 on the highway but just 2-5 against A.L. East foes.

Going back to the end of last season, Tampa has won four of six from Boston, but the Red Sox are still 43-10 in the last 53 meetings overall and 94-43 in the last 137 clashes at Fenway Park.

Kazmir is coming off an elbow injury that delayed the start to his season, but he should take the mound with confidence today as has a 2.66 ERA in 17 career starts against Boston, although he’s just 6-5 in those contests. Last year in six starts against Boston, he went 1-3 despite a 2.78 ERA. In three of those outings covering 19 innings, Kazmir didn’t allow a single run, and in three starts at Fenway, he surrendered just three earned runs in 19 innings, but Tampa Bay went just 1-2.

Lester was outstanding in his last outing Tuesday, blanking the Blue Jays on one hit over eight innings, but he got a no-decision as Boston prevailed 1-0, scoring in the bottom of the ninth. Even with that effort, Lester is just 0-1 with a 4.01 ERA in four starts at Fenway this season.

The Red Sox were 4-0 in Lester’s outings against Tampa Bay last season, but Lester allowed at least four earned runs in three of the four and finished with a 5.56 ERA against the Rays.

The under is 7-3 in Kazmir’s last 10 starts against the Red Sox, 4-1 in his last five against them at Fenway and is 6-1 in Lester’s seven outings this season. The under is also 7-1-1 in Kazmir’s last nine versus winning teams, 4-1-1 in his last six on the road and 7-1 in Lester’s last eight overall.

Also, even though the first two games in this series have topped the total, the under remains 7-3 in Tampa Bay’s last 10 overall, 6-2 in Boston’s last eight overall and 4-2 in the last six series meetings.

ATS ADVANTAGE: UNDER

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Tony Karpinski

Pittsburgh Pirates vs. Washington Nationals    
Play: Washington Nationals   

Pittsburgh at Washington (Baseball) 1:35PM ET The Washington Nationals still have one of the worst records in baseball, but it hasn't shown lately. The Nationals look to win their third straight series for the first time in nearly two years when they wrap up their four-game set with the Pittsburgh Pirates on Sunday. Washington (13-18) bounced back from Friday's 11-4 loss to the Pirates by pounding out a season-high 14 hits in Saturday's 9-8 victory. Snell was solid in two starts against the Nationals last season, allowing four runs, three walks and striking out 12 in 14 innings. He has yet to record a decision in three career starts versus Washington, posting a 3.79 ERA in those games. Lets ride the hot bats with the Washington Nats on Sunday Pick on the Nationals

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Dave Cokin

Mets @ Diamondbacks
Play: Mets -120

It doesn't get much better than Johan Santana vs. Danny Haren as the Mets and Diamondbacks close out an exciting series down in the desert. Santana is still having home run issues, but his overall numbers are spectacular and his limited dealings with the D-Backs are mighty impressive. Tough to go against Haren, but the Mets are my choice to win this one.


Brad Diamond Sports

Play on: LA Angeles (Saunders) over Baltimore

Really, there is just a few sides on the MLB card Sunday worth playing, considering the difficult match-ups. However, I would not mind going against Baltimore with perfect Saunders (2-0 L3 years vs. the O's) on the hill for LA. Since veteran RHP Steve Trachsel is 0-2 on the road this season with a 5.79 ERA, I'll back the home standing west coast club.


Tom Scott

Orlando at DETROIT
Play ON: UNDER the total points

You all saw how difficult it was for Orlando to get points yesterday. Today will be no different. The Pistons have the perfect matchups defensively for every one of Orlando's weapons and, truth be told, the same applies to the Magic defense against the Detroit arsenal. This will be a series in which neither team puts triple digits on the score board in any game. In fact, the 91 Detroit put up yesterday may be the high water mark for this whole set. Look for another power defensive game from both sides here.

PREDICTION: TOTAL POINTS SCORED - 170


Nelly

Chicago (Marquis) + over St. Louis (Wellemeyer)

The Cubs offense is on a tear, averaging six runs per game in the past ten games. Chicago leads baseball with a .286 team average and the Cubs have had great success in St. Louis, winning eight of the last eleven games while dominating this series last season. The Cardinals also have good early season numbers on offense but Chicago has an edge in most areas and the Cardinals have benefited from an easier schedule as this will be the 21st home game for St. Louis already this season. Todd Wellemeyer was a nice early season surprise performer for St. Louis but his numbers have slipped, allowing 14 runs in his past four starts. Cub starter Jason Marquis has posted very solid marks in his road starts and as a former Cardinal his starts back in St. Louis have been very meaningful. He pitched extremely well in a September start here last season and he is capable of putting up another solid effort.


James Patrick

Cubs vs. Cardinals

Chicago looks to continue their winning ways in St. Louis with 16 wins in the past 28 outings. Tonight’s starter Marquis is 4-1 against the Red Birds and our Major League Baseball selection on Sunday Evening is  Chicago Cubs.

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Jimmy The Moose

Game: Chicago White Sox at Toronto Blue Jays
Prediction: Under

Reason: The under is 8-3 in the White Sox last 11 games as an underdog. Chicago has played the under in 5 straight games. The under is 17-6-1 in their last 24 road games vs. a team with a losing home record. Toronto has played the under in their last 5 home games. The under is 7-0 in the Blue Jays last 7 games overall. The under is 4-0 in Halladay's last 4 home starts. The last 6 meetings overall between the clubs have played under the total. The under is 5-1 in Chicago's last 6 trips to Toronto. Play the under.

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Big Al Mcmordie

Game: Seattle Mariners at New York Yankees
Prediction: Under

Reason: At 1:05pm ET our member selection is on the Seattle Mariners and New York Yankees 'under' the total. With all of the pitching injuries the Yankees have had this year, they are certainly looking for somebody to come along and give their struggling rotation a lift. Mike Mussina has provided some of this lately, as he has pitched better than probably anyone expected and with his performance on Saturday, has won his last three starts. But they were already counting on Mussina to start the year, so they are hoping somebody young can come up and provide a nice surprise for them. That somebody just might be 27 year-old Darryl Rasner. While many may not consider 27 years old to be 'young', Rasner only has three years and ten starts on his Major League resume. He has certainly earned the right to get back into the New York rotation, going 4-0 with a 0.87 ERA in five starts for AAA affiliate Scranton-Wilkes Barre in '08. This would seem like a perfect time to test out Rasner and see if he can stick with the big league club as Seattle seems to have major problems scoring runs when visiting Yankee Stadium. In fact, in their last four trips to the Bronx, the Mariners have only managed a total of seven runs. Traded over from the Twins during the off-season, Mariners' righthanded veteran Carlos Silva is having another very quiet quality season and is still perhaps the best control pitcher in baseball. He has a 2.79 ERA and has only given up nine walks in 42 innings so far. Take the 'under'.

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MATT FARGO

Los Angeles Dodgers @ Colorado Rockies
PICK: Los Angeles Dodgers

REASON FOR PICK: Here we have an extremely hot team against an extremely cold team yet the latter is favored. The Rockies are the chalk here due to the starting pitching matchup and that should not be the case. Los Angeles has won eight straight games including five in a row during this current road trip. Last night’s victory was the fifth in five games over the Rockies this season and these last two in Colorado have been blowouts. Pitching and hitting are both clicking for the Dodgers right now.

While the Dodgers are surging, the Rockies are in a downward spiral. They have lost three straight, seven of eight and 11 pf their last 13 games. The last three wins have been with today’s starter on the hill but that is not a big concern at all. Colorado was fortunate to win all three of those games as the offense mustered only 10 runs combined in those three contests. Colorado has dropped five of six at home and it has only four wins at Coors Field on the entire season.

The pitcher in question for the Rockies is Aaron Cook. He is the ace of the staff and he has definitely pitched like it with five straight quality outings. He has been the only winner over the last 16 days and as mentioned earlier, that does not both me. His problem is the opponent as the Dodgers have been his nemesis. He has faced the Dodgers five times since 2006 and he is 0-4 with a 6.46 ERA in those games with the Rockies losing all five of those games by a combined score of 41-16.

Derek Lowe counters for the Dodgers and while his recent numbers look bad, they are not as bad as they look at first glance. He has a 4.40 ERA over his last three starts but that is due to lack of innings as he has allowed three runs or fewer in all of those games. Prior to that he had three straight quality outings and his season ERA of 2.88 proves that he is having a very good season. His defense let him down last game but I expect a big bounce back in a park that has not treated him well in the past. Play Los Angeles Dodgers 1.5 Units

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STEPHEN NOVER

Kansas City Royals @ Cleveland Indians
PICK: Kansas City Royals

REASON FOR PICK: Sometimes price dictates a play. That's the case here. Cleveland has scored three runs or less in half of its 30 games this season. Indians starter Aaron Laffey is making just his second start. He has a 6.35 ERA.

Yet the Indians are big favorites. Some of this is due to the Royals starting Gil Meche. After a breakout season last year, Meche has been good and bad this season with more of an emphasis on bad. He has a 7.22 ERA.

Meche, though, was solid in his last start, yielding three runs in 6 2/3 innings against Toronto. He made some adjustments in that game, including starting his windup differently by moving his hands to waist-level at the beginning of his windup.

Meche is better than he has looked. This could be the start of a turnaround. Cleveland's offense can't be counted on. If you discount the Indians' eight runs on Thursday versus the Mariners, they have scored nine runs in their last five games.

No way should the price be this high on a largely untested Laffey and an Indians offense still looking to find their way.

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Ross Benjamin

Tampa Bay (Kazmir) @ Boston (Lester)
Pick: Tampa Bay +120

The Rays were very careful to bring back Scott Kazmir too soon from the disabled list especially in light of the surprising start of the ball club. There is a good chance that Kazmir will be on a strict pitch count in his first start of 2008 however that is already factored into the selection. Statistically Tampa has the #1 bullpen in MLB with an ERA of 2.42 and in the last 10 games they have been even better posting a cumulative 1.60 ERA. Kazmir has not been intimidated by starting versus the mighty Red Sox in his young career as a matter of fact in 15 starts since 2005 versus Boston he has posted a sterling 2.93 ERA. Kazmir is 6-2 in his last 8 team starts on the road versus a team with a win percentage of better than .500 and 12-5 in his last 17 overall team starts versus winning teams. The Boston starter Lester has posted a lofty 5.56 ERA in 4 starts versus Tampa since 2005. Lester is 0-4 in his last 4 team starts versus teams with a win percentage of better than .500. With the Rays winning 8 of their last 10 and with all considered that has been already mentioned we are getting a very good underdog value in this spot.

Play on Tampa Bay

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John Fina

Selection: Atlanta Braves -135

Today the Cincinnati Reds will be on the road as they take on the Atlanta Braves. We will side with the Atlanta Braves! The Atlanta Braves will be sending to the mound the much superior starting pitcher. The Cincinnati Reds will send to the mound Bronson Arroyo. Bronson Arroyo has struggled so far this season which is shown by his 6.97 ERA. In addition, Bronson Arroyo has a 8.80 ERA in his last 3 starts. On the other hand, the Atlanta Braves will send to the mound Tom Glavine. Tom Glavine has given up very few runs this season which is shown by his solid 2.60 ERA. As you can see, the Atlanta Braves will be sending to the mound the much superior starting pitcher. The Atlanta Braves have been a solid investment when playing at home. In fact, the Atlanta Braves are 20-7 in their last 27 home games. The Atlanta Braves are a Perfect 2-0 (this season) when playing the Cincinnati Reds, and should be able to get the sweep today! Take the Atlanta Braves!

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JAKE TIMLIN

San Francisco Giants.

Back the Giants second part of their 1-2 pitching punch I look for Lincecum to come out dominate in Philly today. After all with Cain able to slow down the Phillies yesterday only good things will be in store for the Lincecum who is off to a solid start of 3-1 with an ERA of 1.67. Meanwhile for the Phillies and Hamels this season is off to a tough start as the lefty is only 3-3 and despite a solid overall ERA the lefty has been hit over his last 3 starts going 1-2 with an ERA of close to 5. Well keeping with present momentum look for the Giants Lincecum to continue throwing darts as San Francisco seals one on the road. Take the Giants today!

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MATT RIVERS

For Sunday lay the points with the Lakers.

I am a big fan of this Utah team as they are immensely talented with stars in Carlos Boozer and Deron Williams but this spot is just too difficult on Jerry Sloan's squad.

The Jazz just knocked out the Rockets on Friday night in that game six and now have to travel to Los Angeles to face a red hot and absolutely rolling Lakers squad led by the star of all stars in Kobe Bryant.

I have not really been a believer in Phil Jackson's squad this season but I do have to admit now that they are very very very good, if not great and with Pau Gasol around along with the experienced Derek Fisher and a few other pieces it's no longer just Kobe and dreck. This is now a team and a force that can steamroll any opponent at Staples. The Lakers just completely embarassed a very talented Denver team with Allen Iverson and Carmelo Anthony.

Utah was my surprise pick before the playoffs began as I predicted they would get to the NBA Finals. I still do think that can happen but I do not see them playing up to their top level here just 48 or so hours after finishing up T-Mac and the Rockets.

Williams, Boozer, Kirilenko, Okur, Millsap and the Jazz are very very good as well and are unreal at home but today on the road they are in a lot of trouble

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JEFF EBNTON

Am I worried about the fact that Kobe and Co. are coming off a long layoff (they havent played since finishing off their sweep of the Nuggets on Monday) A little bit. But how tired do you think the Jazz are after enduring a pretty grueling six-game series with the Rockets, a series that just ended some 40 hours ago In fact, this is Utahs fourth game in eight days, all in a different city (they went from Utah to Houston to Utah to Los Angeles).

So I?m not buying into any rust factor here on the part of the Lakers. What I am buying into is the fact L.A. looked like a team on a freakin mission in the first round of against a 50-win Nuggets team, winning and covering in all four games and posting an average margin of victory of 17 points per game! I?m also buying into the fact that the Lakers went 3-1 SU and ATS against the Jazz this year, and theyre 5-1 SU and ATS against Utah dating to last year, with three double-digit home wins. In fact, the home team is 7-2 SU and ATS in the last nine meetings between these squads.

Oh, and by the way, in none of the four previous meetings this year including a 106-95 rout in Utah where the Jazz have lost just five times all year did the Lakers have Pau Gasol in the lineup. Interesting.

Like I said, the Lakers are playing like a team on a mission, and I say they send a big message right off the bat in Game 1. Lay the wood with the host in this one.

5* L.A. LAKERS

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DCI

NHL

Eastern Conference Semifinals
Game 5, best-of-7
PITTSBURGH 3, N.Y. Rangers 2

Western Conference Semifinals
Game 6, best-of-7
DALLAS 3, San Jose 2

NBA

Eastern Conference Quarterfinals
Game 7, best-of-7
BOSTON 102, Atlanta 89

Western Conference Semifinals
Game 1, best-of-7
L.A. LAKERS 111, Utah 106

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TONY WESTON

Were switching gears again and going back to the Association and looking at this Game 7 in Boston as the Celtics host the Atlanta Hawks.

Most people figured this 1-8 matchup would be an easy sweep for the Celtics, but the Hawks have proven to be better than those 37 regular season wins would suggest.

So far in this series both teams are not only tied 3-3 SU, but theyre also tied 3-3 ATS. And over their last 10 meetings even though Boston is 6-4 SU the teams are split again 5-5 ATS.

After the Celtics destroyed the Hawks in each of the first two games of the series, beating them 104-81 as 15-point favorites in Game 1 and then following with a 96-77 beatdown as a 15-point favorite in Game 2, Boston has fallen apart.

Over the last four games the Hawks are 3-1 SU and ATS against the Celts. Though in their last five meetings in Boston the Hawks are 0-5 SU and 1-4 ATS, things have changed as this series has gone on.Atlanta is playing with confidence and is scaring Boston.The Celtics will likely win SU, but not after a scare from Atlanta.

Take the double-digit points and take the Hawks on the road.

2* HAWKS

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THE POWER INDEX

NBA

Boston* 12.5 over Atlanta
L.A. Lakers* 4.5 over Utah

NHL

Pittsburgh* -144 .5 over N.Y. Rangers
Dallas* -140 .5 over San Jose

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Sports Gambling Hotline

Here we go, Game Seven of the Atlanta-Boston series, and we will once again go OVER the total in this showdown in Beantown.

We have scored with the OVER as a comp play winner in the last two games, and we will score once again with another high-scoring affair in the series finale.

The last 4 games in this series have all gone OVER, and our feeling is with this being an elimination game for both teams, you will see time-outs, fouls, long, desperate three-balls, etc., etc., as both the Hawks and the Celtics leave it all on the floor in the hopes of keeping their seasons alive.

Dating back to the regular season, Atlanta has now played OVER the posted price in 9 of their last 12 games, while the Caeltics have eclipsed the total in 5 of their last 7.

Play the OVER!

4* OVER

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Karl Garrett

Total winner today in the West Conference, as the Jazz-Lakers play true to form, and head OVER the posted total.

10 of the last 14 series meetings between Utah, and Los Angeles have slipped OVER the posted price, and I would say the Lakers are due for a high-scoring game after 3 straight UNDERS in their first round series with the Nuggets.

20 of Utah's last 26 games contested against the Pacific Division have played HIGH, and I can picture this game seeing the teams hitting the century mark.

Go OVER in Game One of the West Semis.

2* OVER

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Bobby Maxwell

The D'Backs have shown they are the best team in the National League up to this point and today they have a great chance to really make a point as they go up against the Mets and star lefty Johan Santana (3-2, 3.05 ERA) with they new pitching star, Danny Haren (4-1, 3.13).

Haren has been perfect in Arizona this season, going 4-0 with a 1.69 ERA. Money he had his worst outing at home when he allowed three runs on five hits in 7.2 innings of a 5-3 win over the Astros. Other than that, he hadn't allowed more than one earned run in a home outing.

The D'Backs have had great success against southpaws like Santana, going 8-2 against them at Chase Field and 35-16 against them overall. Also, this young squad has loved the home cooking the last couple seasons, going 37-17 in front of the home folks.

The Mets have had very good success in Arizona they last three or four seasons and they players for the D'Backs know that. They came out and lit it up Saturday in getting the 10-4 victory and they'll get enough off Santana to get the win.

This is likely something around the 4-3 or 4-2 area, but the D'Backs are going to get the job done. Play Arizona.

4* ARIZONA

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JIM FEIST

The Tigers have won 8 of 11 games with the powerful offense finally clicking. Like the offense, veteran lefty Kenny Rogers has found a groove after a rough start. The Tigers are 3-0 his last three starts. Minnesota is averaging just 3.4 runs per game at home and starter Boof Bonser is 2-4 on the year. An excellent spot for the hot road team. Play the Tigers!

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Tony Mathews

20 Stars: Utah Jazz +7.5

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