NBA News and Notes May 9

NBA News and Notes May 9

Magic look to tie series
By Josh Jacobs

When we think or Orlando we think of Dwight Howard’s double-double figures and Hedo Turkoglu’s deadly three-point range. But on Wednesday, it was the Rashard Lewis’ of the world that helped put the Magic back on the map.

Orlando’s Lewis contributed a career playoff-high 33 points in Game 3, helping his team outmatch Detroit by the final of 111-86. Covering the five-point spread was a breeze and total players on the ‘over’ breathed a sigh of relief when the Magic put together a 38-point fourth quarter effort, pushing the final score to a total of 197 (most books closed the door at 187).

And it wasn’t just Lewis who donated his talent on the floor. With an Orlando squad who ranked fifth in league, shooting 47.4 percent from the field during the regular season, starters and bench player alike supplied a constant flow of accurate shots.

The Magic finished the evening off shooting a laser guided 53.8 percent from the hardwood. Mix in 11 made three pointers in 24 attempts (45.8%) and Orlando emerged with lethal accuracy from all spots on the court.

Orlando logged in 111 points in Game 3, veering not far from the 105.3 PPG that the team has scored in three wins versus Detroit this season (including the playoff victory on Wednesday). This perfuse scoring drops off when taking four defeats into account. Orlando is averaging only 95.1 PPG in the seven games against the Pistons, with 97.5 PPG originating from regular season.

Detroit has allowed 5.2 PPG more then its seasonal average (90.1 PPG) versus Orlando in the postseason. But if we remove ourselves from the head-to-head matchup analysis for a moment, we can see that the Pistons are still top heavy on ‘D’, ranked second with 87.9 PPG allowed throughout the playoffs. Allowing a 31 three point percentage speaks volumes in itself.

During the season, Detroit was credited with an ‘under’ record of 45-3-1. While five of nine games has dipped ‘under’ the total set by books this postseason, many bettors can’t equate this to the same success during the regular season. However, it’s in agreement that backers can’t argue the Pistons’ 6-3 against the spread record.

One concern for the Pistons’ is fellow teammate Chauncey Billups’ (15.8 PPG, 5.7 APG) status for Game 4 after straining his hamstring in an awkward fall on the court. Taking precautionary measures, the team scheduled out an MRI to be performed on Thursday with results still pending. Billups finished the regular season with 17 PPG and 6.8 APG.

Detroit entered the playoffs with one of the best home ATS records versus teams with a winning record (over .500). The teams’ 16-6 ATS performance in this situation has given way for many backers to continue wagering on the Pistons.

The Magic have been able to register higher numbers in ‘07-08 on total plays. With most books listing the last three games anywhere from 189 ½ down to 185, Orlando has seen the total go ‘over’ that 185 mark for a high 89 percent of the time. While the numbers drop significantly (as expected), the Magic have been firing ‘over’ 200 points (total combined score) 49 percent of the time and finally ‘over’ 210 only 38 percent. The moral of this story is that the Magic’s 104.5 PPG overall this season has given rise to a decent percentage of ‘over’ games (given that Orlando is an Eastern Conference team of course).

While books haven’t installed an opening line as of Thursday, Orlando is 5-5 ATS this season when the spread has been set from 3 ½ to six points at home. If the line is adjusted a half point up this time around, it’s worth noting that the Magic are 8-5 ATS at home with the spread ranging from 6 ½ to nine.

Giving up 111 points in Game 3 was the first time that Detroit surrendered triple-digit figures throughout the playoffs (the only who was hadn’t allowed 100-plus points in the playoffs).

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Re: NBA News and Notes May 9

Lakers-Jazz, Game 3
By Chris David

The NBA playoffs continue Friday from Salt Lake City as the Jazz hope to bounce back against the Lakers at Energy Solutions Arena. Los Angeles opened up a commanding 2-0 lead against Utah by capturing a 120-110 decision in Game 2 on Wednesday.

L.A. still remains the only team left in the playoffs that hasn’t suffered a loss but all that could change in Game 3. The Jazz have been listed as four-point favorites for the third installment.

Gamblers face tough decisions for this contest, considering you can argue either way for both clubs in this spot.

Let’s take a closer look at why the Jazz or the Lakers could present value.

Reasons to bet the Jazz (-4) in Game 3:

-- Utah owns a league-best 39-5 straight up and 28-13 against the spread mark at home.

-- The Jazz have outscored teams by 14 points per game (108-94) from Salt Lake City this year.

-- Most would expect the second-best shooting team (49.7%) in the league to step up at home, especially after only connecting on 37 and 44 percent clips in the first two battles against the Lakers.

-- Jerry Sloan’s team was within striking distance in both Game 1 and 2, but just couldn’t make a clutch shot in the fourth quarter.

-- Despite losing the pair at Staples Center, the Jazz dominated the glass in Game 1 (58-41) and won the battle in Game 2 (41-37) as well.

-- Forward Carlos Boozer hasn’t played up to his ability at all, finishing Game 2 with 10 points on 3-of-10 shooting. The former Duke standout averaged 22 PPG and 12.6 against the Lakers during the regular season.

-- Defensively, Utah only allowed 89 PPG at home in the first round albeit against Houston.

-- Teams trailing 0-2 in this year’s playoffs have been decent in Game 3, especially at home. The host has notched a 5-2 record both SU and ATS in the seven instances.

-- Sticking with that trend, Utah faced 0-2 deficits twice in last year’s postseason. In the first round, it defeated Houston 81-67 in Game 3 at home and then crushed San Antonio 109-83 in Game 3 in the conference finals – again at home.

Reasons to bet the Lakers (+4) in Game 3:

-- L.A. is easily the most talented team playing in the postseason right now, winning five of its six games by double digits.

-- The Jazz don’t have an answer for the league’s Most Valuable Player, Kobe Bryant. He’s averaging 36 PPG, 7 RPG and 6.5 APG in the series.

-- The Lakers have won and covered seven of their last eight games against the Jazz, including two of the last three trips to Salt Lake City.

-- Los Angeles defeated Utah 106-95 on Mar. 20 as a six-point road underdog. The Lakers opened up a 38-18 lead after the first quarter and coasted behind 27 points from Kobe Bryant.

-- Favorites have posted an 8-0 SU and 7-1 ATS mark in the second round of the playoffs. If you believe things will balance out, then why not take the top-seed plus the points.

-- The Jazz are 2-1 SU in the playoffs at home, but only 1-2 ATS.

-- L.A. won and covered both of its road trips to Denver.

Total Talk

-- After watching a combined 230 points in Game 2 jump ‘over’ the closing total of 211 points, oddsmakers have pushed the total on Friday’s matchup to 215. Game 1 saw the combined 207 points barely slip ‘under’ the closing total of 212 1/2, but keep in mind that the two teams posted 24 points in the final two minutes due to intentional fouls and free throws.

-- The Jazz have posted 98 and 110 points in the two losses despite missing more shots than they’ve made.

-- Phil Jackson’s squad has busted the century mark in 16 straight games, including all six postseason affairs.

-- Los Angeles has benefited from the free throw line in the first two matchups, taking 46 and 43 attempts from the charity stripe.

-- The ‘under’ has prevailed for both the Lakers (4-2) and the Jazz (5-3) at the counter more often than not in this year’s playoffs.

-- Utah and Los Angeles have watched the ‘over’ go 11-5 in the previous 16 meetings.

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NBA PLAYOFFS

WESTERN CONFERENCE

(1) L.A. Lakers (6-0 SU and ATS) at (4) Utah (4-4, 3-5 ATS)


The Lakers, who held court at home in Games 1 and 2 and who have yet to drop a playoff game, head to EnergySolutions Arena for Game 3 against the Jazz, who had the league’s best regular-season home-court record (37-4) and are essentially in a must-win situation.

On Wednesday, Los Angeles built an early lead and kept Utah at arm’s length most of the night in a 120-110 home victory as a 6½-point chalk. Newly minted league MVP Kobe Bryant led the way with 34 points for L.A., which has scored at least 102 points in 16 straight games and 22 of the last 23. The Lakers are on a 10-0 SU and 9-1 ATS run overall, cashing in each of the last eight games (including all six playoff contests.

Utah, which needed six games to get past Houston in the first round, is just 1-5 ATS in its last six starts (2-4 SU), with the one victory being a 113-91 rout of the Rockets as a 7½-point home favorite in the clinching Game 6 a week ago tonight. The Jazz have lost two straight games for the first time since late December, a stretch of 58 outings. They haven’t dropped three in a row since a six-game losing skid that stretched from Dec. 4-Dec. 14 – the only time all season that Jerry Sloan’s squad lost more than two straight contests.

Los Angeles is now 5-1 SU and ATS against Utah this year, including a current 4-0 SU and ATS run in which L.A. has won by double digits each time. The home team is on a 5-1 ATS run in this rivalry and is 9-3 SU and ATS in the last 12 battles overall, with the winning team cashing in each of those 12 contests. Finally, the favorite is 4-1 ATS in the last five meetings, with the one exception coming in the Lakers’ last visit to Salt Lake City on March 20, when they beat Utah 106-95 as a six-point road ‘dog.

The Lakers, who have won by double digits in five of six so far in the playoffs, are on positive pointspread runs of 6-0 in conference semifinal games, 6-0 against the Northwest Division (all in the playoffs), 8-0 against the Western Conference, 8-0 after a SU win, 24-9 after a spread-cover, 4-0 on one day of rest, 7-1 as a road underdog, 21-8-1 overall catching points and 35-16-1 in their last 52 on the highway. The lone negative note: Los Angeles is 1-4 ATS in its last five Friday outings.

The Jazz still carry several positive ATS trends, including 14-3-1 as a home chalk of less than five points, 6-0-1 as a playoff favorite of less than five, 6-2 overall giving points, 38-15-1 at home and 11-5 on one day of rest.

The over is 11-5 in the last 16 meetings in this rivalry, with Game 2 soaring over the posted price of 210. Furthermore, the over is on streaks of 21-7 for Utah against the Pacific Division, 8-3 for as an underdog and 10-3 for L.A. on 13 Fridays. On the flip side, the under for Los Angeles is on runs of 4-1 overall, 4-1 on the highway, 4-1 after a SU win and 4-1 after an ATS win, and the under for Utah is 6-2 when going on one day of rest, 4-1 as a favorite of less than five points and 17-7 following a SU loss.

ATS ADVANTAGE: UTAH

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NBA Today

L.A. Lakers at Utah (9 p.m. EDT). The Lakers, who are the NBA's only unbeaten team in the postseason, look to take a 3-0 lead over the Jazz in the Western Conference semifinals.

STAR

-Tony Parker and Manu Ginobili, Spurs. Both scored 31 points to lead San Antonio to 110-99 victory over New Orleans.

SLUMPING

LeBron James missed his first three tries and finished with 21 points on 6-for-24 shooting in Cleveland's 89-73 loss to Boston on Wednesday night. The Cavaliers shot 35.6 percent in the game, hitting just 11.8 percent in the second quarter as Boston turned an eight-point deficit into a nine-point lead. The Celtics have a 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

STRONG IN DEFEAT

Chris Paul had 35 points and nine assists in New Orleans' 110-99 loss to San Antonio on Wednesday night. The Hornets still hold a 2-1 series lead.

ALL-NBA TEAM

Kobe Bryant added another honor Thursday to go with his MVP award, becoming the only unanimous selection to the All-NBA team. The Lakers star was voted to the first team for the third straight season and sixth time in his career. Joining Bryant on the first team were New Orleans guard Chris Paul, who was three votes shy of being a unanimous pick, along with Boston's Kevin Garnett, Cleveland's LeBron James and Orlando center Dwight Howard.

PROMOTED

Kiki Vandeweghe became the New Jersey Nets' general manager Thursday, less than six months after being hired as a special assistant to team president Rod Thorn. Vandeweghe replaces Ed Stefanski, who left in midseason to become the general manager of the Philadelphia 76ers. The general manager's job is the second for Vandeweghe. He held the same position with the Denver Nuggets from August 2001 until the end of the 2005-06 season.

SPEAKING


``He's got to be frustrated. He's such a good player. He puts so much on his shoulders.'' - Cavaliers guard Wally Szczerbiak on teammate LeBron James, after Cleveland's 89-73 loss to Boston on Wednesday night.

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Re: NBA News and Notes May 9

Friday’s best NBA bet
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L.A. Lakers at Utah -4, 215½

How much does home-court advantage mean to the Utah Jazz? A ton, that’s why they’re favored in this spot after the Lakers ran them all over the court out on the West Coast.

Utah lost just five games at the EnergySolutions Arena all year, something the Lakers are well aware of.

"The crowd sits on top of the floor,” Los Angeles coach Phil Jackson told reporters. “It's as noisy as anyplace you've ever been in. That energizes the team, and it intimidates the referees that go in there and referee the game. It's a tough environment to win in."

That environment should help the Jazz get out of the gate better after the club went into halftime trailing by double-digits in both of the first two games of the series. Whether that will be enough to slow down Los Angeles’ showtime routine is another question all together.

Pick: Los Angeles

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Utah's Jerry Sloan wants a repeat of history

His Jazz team is down 2-0 in series to Lakers, but he can hark back to being in a similar situation as a player with Chicago in 1971.

The Lakers may have looked unbeatable in taking a 2-0 lead over Utah, but the best-of-seven series is far from over based on NBA playoff history. Just ask Jazz Coach Jerry Sloan or Las Vegas oddsmakers.

In 1971, Sloan was a veteran guard playing for the Chicago Bulls, who faced the Lakers in the Western Conference semifinals. With Gail Goodrich leading the way, the Lakers won the first two games in Los Angeles, but when the series moved to Chicago, Sloan helped lead the Bulls to consecutive victories.

Two wins at home for one team. Two wins at home for the other. It's a scenario that has happened numerous times over years in the postseason.

Las Vegas oddsmakers know this all too well. That's why Utah -- which had the best homecourt record in the league during the regular season -- is listed as a four-point favorite over the Lakers for tonight's Game 3 at EnergySolutions Arena.

Sloan's team has a couple of point-spread trends working in its favor.

The Jazz, which won 37 of 41 home games during the regular season, is 14-3-1 against the spread in its last 18 games as a home favorite of 4.5 points or fewer and 7-2-1 against the spread in its last 10 playoff games as a favorite overall.

The Lakers, who have won 10 consecutive games, have played very well when they haven't been favored this season. They are 7-1 against the spread in their last eight games as a road underdog and 21-8-1 against the spread in their last 30 games as an underdog overall.

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Utah looking for some home cooking

The Utah Jazz are in a must-win situation Friday night when they head back home to EnergySolutions Arena down 2-0 in Game 3 of their series versus the Los Angeles Lakers. A return home may be just what the Jazz need to get back into the series, as they boasted the best home record in the league this season at 37-4.

The Lakers took a 2-0 series lead with a 120-110 win as a 6.5-point favorite on Wednesday night. With the win the Lakers remained undefeated in the postseason, and they’re also a perfect 6-0 ATS. Kobe Bryant received his MVP award on Wednesday night and went on to lead the Lakers with a game-high 34 point along with eight rebounds and six assists. Derek Fisher added 22 points against his former team, while Pau Gasol poured in 20 points.

Deron Williams led the Jazz with 25 points and 10 assists and Paul Milsap was strong off the bench with 17 points and 10 rebounds. Mehmet Okur had 16 points and Andrei Kirilenko added 14 points before both fouled out in the fourth quarter. Foul trouble was also a problem for Carlos Boozer, who rode the bench for most of the first half and finished the night with only 10 points. Utah played a foul-heavy game, as they sent the Lakers to the charity stripe 43 times. The Jazz only took 16 foul shots.

With the win on Wednesday night the Lakers are now 5-1 straight-up and 5-1 ATS this season. Despite the Lakers’ dominance over the Jazz, Utah is a 4-point favorite at home in Game 3.

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Re: NBA News and Notes May 9

Saturday's best NBA bets
COVERS.com

Detroit at Orlando -5, 187

Things look bad for the Pistons as they prepare for another tough game in Orlando after taking a beating in Game 3 and losing their point guard in the process. Detroit didn’t look like the same team that dominated in Detroit as they fell 111-86 to the Magic mainly because point guard Chauncey Billups left the game less than four minutes in with a strained hamstring.

That allowed Jameer Nelson to take the kind of role he did in the Magic’s series against Toronto when the brawny point guard muscled his way into the heart of the defense and opened up shots for teammates on the perimeter. It’s no coincidence Rashard Lewis had his best game, scoring 33 points and going 5-of-6 from three point range as Billups sat in on the sideline.

And from the sounds of things, it would be a minor miracle if Billups was back for Game 4. Without him, the Pistons will have to use either rookie Rodney Stuckey or Lindsey Hunter, neither of which can equal the physical presence or clutch shooting Billups brings to the position. This injury is the worst thing that could have happened to the Pistons at this point and it may cost them the lead in this series.

Pick: Magic


Boston at Cleveland -1, 176

Even though everyone else on the planet is writing off LeBron James and the Cavaliers, it would be foolish to believe that a guy who was up for MVP consideration this year is capable of continuing such a terrible shooting slump. LeBron is missing jumpers, layups, almost every shot he’s attempted managed bounce out of the basket somehow.

But don’t forget that every time these teams faced each other this season, the home team has won. The Cavaliers get a chance to climb back into this series with a game in their own barn, where they are 29-15 this year – and LeBron gets a chance to win back his reputation as a clutch performer.

Pick: Cavaliers

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