NBA News and Notes May 10

NBA News and Notes May 10

Magic look to tie series
By Josh Jacobs

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

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 111 points in Game 3, veering not far from the 105.3 PPG that the team has scored in its 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 team who hasn't allowed 100-plus points in the playoffs).

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Re: NBA News and Notes May 10

Trends favor Cavs in Game 3
By Chris David

When handicappers and gamblers dissect the NBA playoffs, a lot of them lean to a popular betting strategy called the “Zig-Zag” system. If you follow the theory, then you would take the loser of the previous game in a series to win the following game. It’s been proven successful over recent years and books always adjust the numbers based on this system.

This year, the system hasn’t been good at all. However, if you take a “Zig-Zag” approach to just teams playing at home, then you’ve been golden.

In the first round of the playoffs, seven of the eight series watched teams take 2-0 leads after the first two games. In those seven series, the team facing the deficit wound up rebounding with a victory in Game 3 both straight up and against the spread.

The only losers of the seven were the Suns, who were embarrassed to the Spurs 115-99 at home in Game 3. Also, the Nuggets were humbled by the Lakers 102-84 in their playoff home opener.

In the second round of the postseason, the trend continued. Orlando blasted Detroit by 25 points (111-86) and San Antonio held off New Orleans 110-99 in Game 3 of the conference semifinals.

The record stands at 6-2 both SU and ATS in these instances and we have another one on Saturday, as Cleveland hosts Boston in Game 3.

Head coach Mike Brown and his team’s offense can’t play any worse than they did in the first two games against the Celtics, posting 72 and 73 points. The team shot 31 and 35 percent in the two setbacks, which included a combined 5-of-27 (18.5%) from 3-point land.

The Cavaliers’ LeBron James has struggled with his shot (8-of-42) in the first two encounters, resulting in an average of 16.5 PPG. He’s been fortunate to notch 17 of his 33 points from the free throw line.

Most would expect a better effort from Cleveland on Saturday at home. The club averaged 98.6 points per game at Quicken Loans Arena in the first round against Washington, including a 116-point effort in Game 2.

Unfortunately for Cleveland and its backers, the Celtics haven’t played a good game yet either. Boston shot 40 and 42 percent in the first two games, managing just 76 and 89 points in the two victories.

Paul Pierce led the charge in Wednesday’s 89-73 victory with 19 points on 7-of-13 shooting. This came after Pierce four points in Game 1.

Even though the Cavs are down 0-2 in the series, oddsmakers still have them listed as a short one-point favorite in Game 3. The ‘over/under’ has dropped to 176 after being listed at 181 in Game 1 and 178 in Game 2.

The tempo of the first two games saw an average of 72 shots by each team per game, which almost 10 attempts less than the league average.

Another low-scoring game is expected, but gamblers should be aware that Boston allowed Atlanta to post 102, 97 and 103 points in their three road battles against the Hawks. The ‘over’ went 3-0.

Also, the two regular season meetings played in Cleveland between the Cavs and Celtics saw the ‘over’ go 2-0 as well.

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Re: NBA News and Notes May 10

NBA PLAYOFFS

EASTERN CONFERENCE

(2) Detroit (6-3 SU and ATS) at (3) Orlando (5-3, 4-4 ATS)


The Magic look to draw even with the Pistons in their best-of-7 Eastern Conference semifinal series when the teams face off in Game 4 inside Amway Arena.

Orlando got back into the series with Wednesday’s 111-86 victory, blowing open a close game with a 38-17 fourth quarter and easily getting the cash as a five-point favorite. The Magic shot 52.3 percent from the floor and were led by Rashard Lewis’ 11-of-15 shooting for 33 points, while Dwight Howard got his usual double-double with 20 points and 12 rebounds as Orlando outscored the Pistons 46-26 in the paint.

The straight-up winner is 20-1-1 ATS in Orlando’s last 22 games and 17-0 ATS in Detroit’s last 17.

With Wednesday’s win, Orlando snapped a nine-game playoff losing streak to the Pistons that included getting swept out of the first round last season. The Pistons still lead the season series 4-3 SU and ATS, and the winner has cashed in all seven games. Even with the home team 3-0 SU and ATS in this series, the road squad remains 15-8-3 ATS in the last 26 head-to-head matchups and Detroit is 10-4 ATS in its last 14 visits to Orlando (playoffs included).

Orlando is 4-0 SU (3-1 ATS) at home in the postseason and is now 8-3 (7-4 ATS) in its last 11 overall dating back to the regular season. For the season, Stan Van Gundy’s squad is 29-16 (26-16-3 ATS) at Amway Arena, including 14-5-2 ATS in the last 21. The Magic are also on ATS streaks of 8-4 against the Eastern Conference, 7-2-1 against Central Division squads, 6-1 as a favorite, 35-16-1 on Saturdays and 20-8 as a home favorite of five to 10 ½ points.

Detroit saw a five-game SU and ATS winning streak end with the Game 3 loss, but it is still 10-3 SU and ATS in its last 13. The Pistons are also on pointspread runs of 5-1 against the Southeast Division, 6-2 against the Eastern Conference, 7-3 in conference semifinal action and 5-1 following an ATS loss. However, Flip Saunders’ team carries negative ATS trends of 0-6 as an underdog (all on the road), 2-7 as a playoff underdog and 3-8 on the road against teams with a winning home record.

The last two games have gone over the total, making the over 9-3 in the last 12 series clashes, including 4-0 in the last four battles in Orlando. From there, however, both teams are in the midst of several “under” streaks, including 4-2 for Orlando overall, 6-2 for Orlando against Central Division foes and 12-5 for the Magic overall. For Detroit, the under is on runs of 14-7 overall, 4-1 on the road, 16-6 versus the Eastern Conference, 65-29-1 as an underdog, 20-9-1 as a playoff underdog, 6-2 against the Southeast Division and 9-2 on the highway.

ATS ADVANTAGE: ORLANDO     


(1) Boston (6-3, 5-4 ATS) at (4) Cleveland (4-4 SU, 5-3 ATS)

The Celtics held serve at home and now this best-of-7 conference semifinal shifts to Quicken Loans Arena with the Cavaliers in must-win mode.

Boston overcame a sluggish first quarter Thursday and beat Cleveland 89-73, covering as an 8½-point chalk. Neither team shot the ball well (Boston at 40.3 percent, Cleveland at 35.6 percent) but the Celtics’ Paul Pierce led the charge with 19 points on 7-of-13 shooting. The key for Boston has been containing the Cavs’ LeBron James who has gone just 8-for-42 in the first two games for a total of 33 points, and he has 17 turnovers.

Boston is now 4-2 in six meetings with Cleveland this year, but the Cavaliers are 4-2 ATS. The home team has won seven straight series clashes and eight of the last 10, but the road team is 4-1 ATS in the last five. Finally, despite the Game 2 result, the underdog has dominated at the window, going 7-1-1 ATS in the last nine between these two.

The Cavaliers are on ATS streaks of 4-0 after a loss, 5-0 in playoff games as a favorite of less than five points, 8-1 after a double-digit loss and 4-1 as playoff chalk. On the flip side, Cleveland is just 3-7 ATS in its last 10 at home, 2-5 ATS in its last seven after one days’ rest and 1-8 ATS in its last nine at home against a team with a winning road record.

The Celtics are on a bevy of positive ATS runs, including 24-9 overall, 11-3 against the Central Division, 10-3 on one day of rest, 19-7 following a SU win, 17-7 against the East, 40-14 as a road underdog and 19-7 on Saturdays. But Boston is in a 1-4 ATS funk in conference semifinal games and is 0-3 SU and ATS on the road this postseason.

The over is 5-2 in the Celtics’ last seven road games, but from there, the under is on streaks for Boston of 15-7 against the Eastern Conference, 9-4 following a spread-cover, 7-3 in conference semifinal contests, 16-5 against the Central Division and 4-1 as an underdog.

The “under” trends run deep for the Cavaliers, too, including 11-3 overall, 6-0 against the Atlantic Division, 11-3 against the Eastern Conference, 7-2 following a SU loss, 13-3 as a home favorite, 11-3 when playing on a days’ rest and 12-1 in conference semifinal playoff games. Finally, although the under is 3-0 in the last three series meetings, both regular-season battles in Cleveland easily hurdled the posted price.

ATS ADVANTAGE: UNDER

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NBA Today

Boston at Cleveland (8 p.m. EDT). The Celtics have a 2-0 lead over the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Sunday, May 11

L.A. Lakers at Utah (3:30 p.m. EDT). The Jazz will attempt to win consecutive home games and tie their second-round playoff series with the Lakers.

STAR

-Carlos Boozer, Jazz, scored 27 points with 20 rebounds to lead Utah to a 104-99 win over the Lakers in Game 3 of their second-round series.

SLUMP-BUSTER

Carlos Boozer broke out of his slump with 27 points and tied his career playoff-high with 20 rebounds, leading the Utah Jazz to a 104-99 victory over Los Angeles on Friday night, cutting the Lakers' lead in the series to 2-1. It was the Lakers' first loss this postseason. Game 4 of the Western Conference semifinal is Sunday at Utah.

STRONG IN DEFEAT

Kobe Bryant scored 34 points for the Lakers in a 104-99 loss to the Utah Jazz in Game 3 of their second-round series on Friday night.

SPEAKING

``I think he finally got over that hump. That's big. That's what we're going to need. It just takes so much pressure off everybody else when he's playing like that.'' - Utah's Deron Williams on Carlos Boozer, who scored 27 points and tied a career playoff-high with 20 rebounds in a 104-99 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers on Friday night, cutting the Lakers' lead in the series to 2-1.

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Re: NBA News and Notes May 10

NBA Gameday

The Orlando Magic and Detroit Pistons clash in a pivotal Game 4 on Saturday, while also on tap is Game 3 between the Boston Celtics and the Cleveland Cavaliers which shapes up as a must-win game for the Cavs.

The Magic can tie their series with Detroit at 2-2 with another win in Game 4 on Saturday. Orlando picked up a much-needed win in Game 3 on Wednesday night after downing Detroit 111-86 as a 5-point favorite. Rashard Lewis came alive in the win with a game-high 33 points, while Dwight Howard added his usual double-double with 20 points and 12 rebounds. Jameer Nelson and Hedo Turkoglu each delivered a solid effort with 18 points apiece.

The Pistons' hopes in this game seemed to fade early after point guard Chauncey Billups left the game just four minutes into the opening quarter with a strained hamstring. Billups did not return and the Pistons suffered greatly without him. Richard Hamilton led the Pistons with 24 points, while Tayshaun Prince chipped in with 22 points and seven rebounds. Rookie Rodney Stuckey filled in for Billups and finished the night with 19 points. The latest on Billups is that he’s still having trouble with his hamstring and is questionable for Saturday’s game. With or without Billups, the Magic are a 5-point favorite again heading into Game 4.

The Cavaliers were hoping for LeBron James to quickly bounce back on Thursday night after his lackluster effort in Game 1. He didn’t though, and the Celtics cruised to an 89-73 win as an 8.5-point favorite. Paul Pierce led Boston with 19 points and Ray Allen finally found his shot again to net 16 points. Kevin Garnett was steady as always for Boston with 13 points and 12 rebounds.

James did have 21 points for Cleveland, but he only shot 6-of-24 from the floor. In the first two games of the series James has shot 8-for-42, or 19 percent. As a team the Cavaliers shot only 35 percent in Game 2, but that still exceeded the 30 percent shooting performance the Cavs delivered in the series opener. If James doesn’t find his game again with the series moving back to Cleveland for Game 3, the Cavaliers could be done. Even at home the oddsmakers have no love for the Cavs after setting Boston as an 8.5-point road favorite.

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Re: NBA News and Notes May 10

Orlando Magic is favored again

Spread isn't affected much by the status of Pistons' Billups.

In the NBA playoffs, point spreads normally change whenever a key starter is injured.

However, that's not really the case for the Detroit Pistons, who may be forced to play against Orlando in Game 4 today without banged-up veteran point guard Chauncey Billups.

After taking a commanding 2-0 lead over the Magic with Billups in the lineup, the Pistons suffered a 25-point loss in Game 3 when Billups went down with a hamstring injury early in the game and did not return.

But Orlando -- playing at home -- was favored by five points in Game 3, which is the same point spread Las Vegas oddsmakers have given the Magic for today's Game 4, whether Billups plays or not.

The strong play of Rodney Stuckey, a rookie from Eastern Washington, is one reason for the point-line stability. Stuckey, who missed the first 25 games of the season because of a broken hand, has provided a scoring spark for the Pistons in the postseason, including 19 points in Game 3.

In recent weeks, Orlando has excelled when it has played as the team to beat, going 6-1 against the point spread in its last seven games as a favorite.

Note: The Pistons are 7-1 against the spread in their last eight games as an underdog of 5-10 points.

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