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NBA News and Notes May 6

NBA News and Notes May 6

Tuesday's best bets

Cleveland at Boston -10, 184

One big Game 7 blowout sure seems to mean a lot to the books. Boston was consistently favored by 14 or 15 points at home throughout its hard-fought win over the lowly Atlanta Hawks and now opens as a double-digit favorite against LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers. That seems like a lot, even though the Celtics saw similar lines against Cleveland in the regular season.

The Cavaliers have been hanging out since disposing of the Wizards on Friday, so they’ll be rested while the Celtics have to get right back at it after Sunday’s win. Boston looked good enough to beat anyone in Game 7, but this club still doesn’t seem to have a great handle on what it wants to accomplish at times. Cleveland, meanwhile, might be playing its best ball of the season.

“I'm very excited about the way we played in the first round," James told reporters. "The best thing I've seen is how we bounced back from Game 5 into Game 6. Never being in that position with this team before, you never know how a team will bounce back, and the best game we had was Game 6.

"If you're going to pick a good time to be the best team you've been all year, this is the time to do it - in May and June."

Pick: Cavs

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NBA Today

Cleveland at Boston (8 p.m. EDT). The top-seeded Celtics needed seven games to defeat the Hawks in their first-round playoff series.


-Chris Paul, Hornets, had 30 points and 12 assists, leading New Orleans to a 102-84 victory over the San Antonio Spurs in Game 2 of their second-round series.


Chauncey Billups scored 28 points, three on a disputed shot at the end of the third quarter, and Detroit got past Orlando 100-93 on Monday night for a 2-0 lead in their second-round series. Billups officially made a 3-pointer with 0.5 seconds left in the third, ending a play that started with 5.1 seconds left and seemed to take a fraction of a second longer using replays the officials didn't use during a 5-minute delay. Game 3 in the best-of-seven series is Wednesday night in Orlando.


Chris Paul had 30 points and 12 assists, leading the New Orleans Hornets to a 102-84 victory Monday night and a 2-0 lead over the Spurs in their second-round series. Peja Stojakovic hit five 3-pointers and scored 25 points for the Hornets, who've won both games by wide margins in becoming the first team to put San Antonio in an 0-2 playoff hole since 2001, when the Spurs were swept by the Los Angeles Lakers in the Western Conference finals. Game 3 is Thursday in San Antonio.


Chauncey Billups was presented with the NBA's Walter J. Kennedy sportsmanship award Monday night before Detroit's playoff game against the Orlando Magic. The award, which is voted on by the Professional Basketball Writers Association, is given to a player or coach who shows ``outstanding service and dedication to the community.''


``It's tough to be on the other end of that play. But I'll take it.'' - Detroit's Chauncey Billups, on his disputed shot at the end of the third quarter of a 100-93 win over the Magic in Game 2 of their second-round series on Monday night. Billups officially made a 3-pointer with 0.5 seconds left in the third, ending a play that started with 5.1 seconds and seemed to take a fraction of a second longer using replays the officials didn't use during a 5-minute delay.

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(4) Cleveland (4-2 SU and ATS) at (1) Boston (4-3 SU and ATS)

Having survived a scare by finally disposing of the pesky Hawks, the Celtics now get the honor of facing of LeBron James and the defending Eastern Conference champion Cavaliers as these two tip off their best-of-7 conference semifinal series at TD Banknorth Garden.

Faced with the possibility of being on the wrong side of the biggest playoff upset in NBA history, the Celtics responded in a big way in Sunday’s Game 7 against Atlanta, pummeling the Hawks 99-65 and cashing as a 14½-point favorite. Boston, which has advanced to the second round of the postseason for the first time since 2003, won all four home games against Atlanta by margins of 23, 19, 25 and 29 points, easily covering as a 14½ or 15-point favorite in each contest. The Celtics are now on a 9-0 ATS run at home going back to the regular season.

For the third straight year, Cleveland eliminated Washington in the first round, this time needing six games to get the job done. In Friday’s elimination contest in Washington, LeBron James (27 points, 13 rebounds, 13 assists) recorded a triple-double in leading the Cavs to an easy 105-88 victory as a three-point road underdog. Cleveland went 2-1 SU and ATS in Washington, and is 4-2 SU and ATS in its last six on the highway.

The straight-up winner is 30-1 ATS in Boston’s last 31 games, including 12-0 ATS in the last 12. Meanwhile, the winner is 8-0 ATS in Cleveland’s last eight overall and 9-0 ATS in its last nine on the road.

These teams split their four meetings this year, with the host winning each game. However, the Cavs went 3-1 ATS, including cashing in both battles in Boston, losing 80-70 as a 13½-point underdog and 92-87 as a 9½-point pup. The home team is 5-0 in the last five head-to-head clashes (4-1 ATS), but Cleveland is 7-3-2 ATS in the last 12 meetings, including 4-1-2 ATS in its last seven visits to Boston.

Finally, in this rivalry, the underdog is on a 6-0-1 ATS roll.

Cleveland is just 1-7 ATS in its last eight games after a double-digit win and 3-8 ATS in its last 11 after three or more days off. However, the Cavs are on positive ATS streaks of 33-16 as a road underdog, 14-6 as a playoff underdog and 35-16-1 in road games against teams with a winning home record.

In addition to their current 9-0 ATS home streak, the Celtics are on pointspread runs of 23-8 overall, 16-6 against the Eastern Conference, 37-17-1 after a spread-cover, 14-4 after a double-digit win, 18-7 as a favorite, 9-2 when playing on one day of rest, 10-4 on Tuesdays and 6-1 against the Central Division.

For the Cavs, the under is on streaks of 9-3 overall, 14-5 as a playoff underdog, 4-0 against the Atlantic Division and 10-1 in conference semifinal playoff games. Meanwhile, the under is 6-2 in Boston’s last eight home games, 4-1 in its last five against the Central Division and 2-0 in two home meetings against Cleveland this year. But the over is 4-1 in the Celtics’ last five overall, 11-5 in their last 16 on Tuesdays and 19-7-1 in Cleveland’s last 27 on Tuesdays.

ATS ADVANTAGE:               UNDER

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Bettors still dig Celtics
By Dan Duggan 

While the Celtics [team stats]’ unexpected first-round scare from the Atlanta Hawks left some wondering if they are ready to raise a 17th banner to the Garden rafters, oddsmakers are undeterred.

The Celts have been the overwhelming favorites to win the NBA title all season, and despite their struggles with the eighth-seeded Hawks, that hasn’t changed.

“The odds got as low as 6-5, and they’re back to 7-5, so there hasn’t been a huge change,” said Richard Gardner, sports book manager for the online site

“The way they’re playing, maybe they don’t deserve to be the favorite, but so much money came in because of the way they played during the season.”

Even with defending Eastern Conference champion Cleveland and superstar LeBron James on tap, the Celtics are the heavy favorites. (The money line for the Celts is minus-$700. The Cavs are plus-$500.)

“Bettors still believe in Boston,” Gardner said. “Early indications are that will happen until they have another bad series. The lines have only been out for a short time, but it’s coming out fairly evenly. There’s been a little bit more bet on the Cavs, but it’s booking itself, which is what we want.”

Celts coach Doc Rivers said after Sunday’s win that he believed the first-round adversity could pay off later in the playoffs. It’s an optimism shared by bettors.

“We’re still seeing the money come in,” Gardner said. “Some bettors think it’s a good wake-up call for the Celtics. I’m a little surprised at all of the money coming in.”

With homecourt secured throughout the playoffs, bettors are confident in the Celtics’ ability to advance.

“The Celtics blew out every game at home, and that had an impact,” Gardner said. “They showed they can still dominate anyone when they want to.”

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Clash of titans highlights Eastern Conference showdown

The Boston Celtics’ road to the NBA Finals only gets tougher in the second round as they’ve drawn the defending Eastern Conference champs, the Cleveland Cavaliers.

The Cavaliers rode LeBron James’ coattails past Washington in six games in the opening round. In Game 6, Cleveland made a statement by thrashing the Wizards 105-88 as a 2.5-point underdog. James recorded a triple-double with 27 points, 13 rebounds and 13 assists, and he averaged 29.8 points, 9.5 rebounds and 7.7 assists in the series. In the series finale Wally Szczerbiak stepped up to score 26 points, which included draining six three-pointers. If Szczerbiak can maintain a hot hand from beyond the arc, it would give Cleveland a much-needed three-point threat.

The Celtics surprisingly needed seven games to eliminate Atlanta in the first round. After a shocking upset loss in Game 6, Boston rebounded in the series finale to flatten the Hawks 99-65 as a 15-point favorite. Paul Pierce led Boston with 22 points and eight rebounds, while Kevin Garnett chipped in with 18 points and 11 rebounds. The Celtics played phenomenal defense in Game 7, as they held Atlanta to 29 percent shooting from the floor. Garnett led the Celtics in the series, averaging 21 points and 8.9 rebounds per game, while Pierce was good for 18 points a night.

During the regular season Cleveland and Boston clashed four times, with each winning twice at home. Cleveland defeated Boston 114-113 as a 3-point favorite, and 109-104 as a 3.5-point underdog in close contests. Boston defeated Cleveland 92-87 as a 9.5-point favorite, and dropped Cleveland 80-70 as a 15-point favorite. Boston’s second win over the Cavaliers was notable however for the absence of James, who missed that game with an injured finger.

With Game 1 taking place in Boston, the Celtics opened as a big 10-point favorite. In the opening round Boston was 4-3 ATS versus Atlanta, while Cleveland was 4-2 ATS against the Wizards.

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