NBA News and Notes May 12

NBA News and Notes May 12

Will Cavs draw even?
By Brian Edwards

At this point, Boston fans are thrilled the team has homecourt advantage throughout the playoffs. That’s because the Celtics can’t buy a victory on the road.

Cleveland (50-41 straight up, 43-48 against the spread) hung a fourth consecutive road defeat on the C’s in Game 3 Saturday night. The Cavs, who now trail Boston 2-1 in this best-of-seven Eastern semifinals clash, captured a 108-84 win as two-point favorites. The 192 combined points sailed ‘over’ the 178-point total.

Delonte West drilled 4-of-6 shots from 3-point land en route to a 21-point effort to pace the winners. Ben Wallace, who wasn’t supposed to play due to dizziness caused by an inner ear infection, provided a huge spark in 28 minutes of action. Wallace finished with nine points on 4-of-6 shooting, nine rebounds, two blocks, two assists, one steal and just one turnover.

LeBron James continued to struggle with his shot, making just 5-of-16 attempts. However, he did knock down 3-of-5 shots from beyond the arc and played an excellent floor game. James had 21 points, eight assists, five rebounds, four steals, three blocks and only two turnovers.

Joe Smith gave Cleveland a huge lift off the bench. The former No. 1 pick in the draft missed only one of his eight shots from the field, finishing with 17 points and six rebounds in 24 minutes of play. Wally Szczerbiak remained productive offensively, producing 16 points.

Kevin Garnett had 17 points and nine boards in defeat, while James Posey chipped in 11 points off the bench. Paul Pierce had 14 points and Ray Allen finished with 10, but the duo combined to miss 13 of its 20 shots from the field.

Rajon Rondo and Sam Cassell were especially ineffective at the point guard position. Both players have played at a significantly lower level for the Celtics when they go on the road in these playoffs. Cassell and Rondo combined for just eight points, two assists and three rebounds, draining just 3-of-16 attempts from the floor.

Boston (72-20 SU, 57-33 ATS) didn’t have these road woes during the regular season. In fact, the Celtics are 31-14 SU and 27-17 ATS in spite of the four-game road slump. (They lost three in a row at Atlanta in the first round.)

Mike Brown’s squad is 30-15 SU at home, but the Cavs are an abysmal 18-27 ATS at QuickenLoans Arena.

For Game 4, Las Vegas Sports Consultants opened Cleveland as a 1½-point favorite with a 180-point tally. Since LVSC sent out the number, most spots have adjusted the Cavs to two (or even 2½) with the total at 182. Some books have the Celtics available at plus 115 on the money line (risk $100 to win $115).

The ‘under’ easily cashed in Games 1 and 2 in Boston, but Game 3 saw an ‘over’ for the first time. For the season, the ‘under’ is 26-18-1 for the Cavs at home. However, the Celtics have seen the ‘over’ go 23-22 in their road outings.

Tip-off is scheduled for Monday night at 8:05 p.m. Eastern. TNT will provide television coverage.

vegasinsider.com.

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Pick ‘n’ Roll: Monday's best NBA bets
COVERS.com

Boston at Cleveland -2, 182

The Cavaliers made some good defensive adjustments before Game 3. Instead of trying to deal with all of Boston’s weapons one-on-one, they started backing off on Rajon Rondo to focus their attention on Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce, or Ray Allen. Rondo wasn’t hitting the outside shots, so the Cavs just waited until he drove into the paint to step up on him.

Rondo ended up with only seven points on 3-of-10 shooting, so the move paid off. Now if LeBron James could just get his jumper to go down. James struggled with his mid-range shot for most of Game 3, but managed to get the rest of the Cavs involved in the offense and drove the lane hard all night.

He’s going to break out sooner or later with a huge game. Maybe Monday will be his night.

Pick: Cavaliers

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NBA PLAYOFFS

EASTERN CONFERENCE

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


The Cavaliers tries to draw even in their best-of-7 series with the Celtics when the two square off inside the Quicken Loans Arena.

Cleveland got back into the series with a 108-84 victory Saturday, jumping on top 32-13 after the first quarter and cruising to the easy win and cover as a two-point chalk. The Cavs had five players score in double figures in their Game 3 win, and despite LeBron James’ 5-for-16 performance in the contest – he’s now 13-for-58 in the series – they shot 53.6 percent from the floor, including 52.6 percent from beyond the three-point line.

Boston leads the season series 4-3 but the Cavaliers improved to 5-2 ATS. The home team has won eight straight series clashes, including all seven this season, and nine of the last 11. Also, despite the Game 3 result, the road team is still 4-2 ATS in the last six and the underdog has dominated at the window, going 7-2-1 ATS in the last 10 between these two.

The Cavaliers are on ATS streaks of 6-0 in playoff games as a favorite of less than five points, 4-1 against the Atlantic Division, 25-10 on Mondays and 4-1 as playoff chalk. On the flip side, Cleveland is just 4-7 ATS in its last 11 at home, 3-5 ATS in its last eight after one days’ rest and 2-8 ATS in its last 10 at home against a team with a winning road record.

Despite Saturday’s loss, Doc Rivers’ Celtics remain on a bevy of positive ATS runs, including 24-10 overall, 11-4 against the Central Division, 10-4 on one day of rest, 17-8 against the East, 40-15 as a road underdog and 12-4 on Mondays. But Boston is in a 1-5 ATS funk in conference semifinal games and is 0-4 SU and ATS on the road this postseason.

After the first two games in Boston stayed well under the total, the over rolled in Saturday and is 6-2 in the Celtics’ last eight road games. But from there, the under is on streaks for Boston of 15-8 against the Eastern Conference, 7-4 in conference semifinal contests, 16-6 against the Central Division and 4-2 as an underdog. The “under” trends run deep for the Cavaliers, too, including 11-4 overall, 6-1 against the Atlantic Division, 11-4 against the Eastern Conference, 13-4 as a home favorite, 11-4 when playing on one days’ rest and 12-2 in conference semifinal playoff games.

However, all three meetings between these teams in Cleveland this season have soared over the posted price.

ATS ADVANTAGE: CLEVELAND

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NBA Today

Boston at Cleveland (8 p.m. EDT). The Celtics are winless on the road this postseason but still lead the Cavaliers 2-1 in the Eastern Conference semifinals.

Tuesday, May 13

Orlando at Detroit (7 p.m. EDT). The Pistons will try to close out the Magic in Game 5 of their Eastern Conference semifinal.

STAR

-Andrei Kirilenko, Jazz, blocked Kobe Bryant twice in overtime and converted a three-point play with 35 seconds remaining as Utah beat the Los Angeles Lakers 123-115, tying the Western Conference semifinals at 2-2.

EVENED UP

Andrei Kirilenko blocked Kobe Bryant twice in overtime and converted a three-point play with 35 seconds remaining as the Utah Jazz beat the Los Angeles Lakers 123-115 on Sunday, tying the Western Conference semifinals at 2-2. The Jazz went 8-for-8 from the foul line in overtime and outscored the Lakers 15-7. Deron Williams had 29 points and 14 assists. Bryant finished with 33 points and 10 assists. Game 5 is Wednesday in Los Angeles. ... Tim Duncan had 22 points and 15 rebounds, and the San Antonio Spurs beat the New Orleans Hornets 100-80 to even the Western Conference semifinals at 2-2. Tony Parker added 21 points for the Spurs, who led nearly the entire game and are assured of a Game 6 back in San Antonio. Game 5 is Tuesday in New Orleans.

STRONG IN DEFEAT


Kobe Bryant finished with 33 points and 10 assists in the Lakers' 123-115 loss to the Utah Jazz in Game 4 of their Western Conference semifinal on Sunday.

SPEAKING

``Our intensity was terrible. From Game 1 to Game 4, ours has gotten worse and theirs has gotten better. And that's been the difference. They're just kicking our butts right now. Is that simple enough?'' - Hornets coach Byron Scott after a 100-80 loss to the San Antonio Spurs in Game 4 on Sunday night that evened the Western Conference semifinals at 2-2.

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NBA Gameday

Boston Celtics at Cleveland Cavaliers


The Eastern Conference playoffs haven't been the cakewalk that was expected for the Celtics. After struggling to get past the Atlanta Hawks in the first round, Kevin Garnett and company are finding the going tough against the Cavaliers in Round 2 as well. Boston did manage to win the first two games of this series at home (by low scores of 76-72 and 89-73), but Cleveland then bounced back with a 108-84 victory on Saturday.

And the Cavaliers are still in this series despite the struggles of LeBron James, who was better on Saturday (21 points, eight assists, five rebounds), but still wasn't great (5-of-16 from the floor). Delonte West also tossed in 21 points for Cleveland on Saturday, while Joe Smith had 17 points. Wally Szczerbiak turned in a 16-point performance on the day.

Garnett led the way for the Celtics in their Game 3 defeat, but he was still only able to pour in 17 points (while grabbing nine rebounds). Paul Pierce added 14 points on the night, while Kendrick Perkins had 12 points, and Ray Allen was held to just 10 points. Boston was down 32-13 after the first quarter on Saturday, and they could not recover.

Cleveland will now be looking to tie up this second-round series at two apiece when they host Boston for the second straight game on Monday night. The early lines for this game had the Cavaliers listed as 1.5 to 2-point home favorites, while the total was hovering around 180 points. Check your favorite sportsbooks for the latest game lines.

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Boston Celtics at Cleveland Cavaliers
By Joe Wiz

The Cleveland Cavaliers will look to even their series, as they host the Boston Celtics in game four of their best-of-seven semifinal series. After losing the first two games at Boston, the Cavaliers came back to win here 108-84, Saturday night. The Celtics, which have won 72 games this season continue to struggle away from home during the post season. They are now 0-4 on the road, after losing three at Atlanta in the opening series. They haven't won at Cleveland in three years. The teams split the regular season series, with the home team winning each time.

The Cavaliers are a 2 point favorite and the total is 182. The Celtics are 58-33 ATS, which includes the playoffs. However, they have failed to cover on the road during the post season. They are 28-17 ATS over all on the road. The Celtics are 10-4 ATS as an underdog. The Cavaliers are 43-48 ATS and 18-27 ATS at home. The Cavaliers are 23-27 ATS as a favorite. The Cavaliers are 6-0 SU and 4-2 ATS versus the Celtics at Cleveland through the last six meetings.

The Celtics are a tale of two teams so far during the playoffs. They have been superior at home, especially on the defensive end, where they haven't allowed more than 85 points. On the road, they have forgotten all about defense and struggle scoring. The trio of Ray Allen, Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett have been average at best. Actually, Allen has been awful. His latest output netted him 10 points on 4-of-12 from the floor and 0-for-5 from three-point land. With, Allen struggling, Pierce and Garnett must take over the game, which hasn't happened yet. Rajon Rondo was outplayed by Delonte West in game three and when Doc Rivers went to veteran Sam Cassell, he was rewarded with an zero for six performance in 18 minutes. One bright spot has been the play of center Kendrick Perkins, who has been solid down low. The Celtics bench played very well at Boston, but same up small in game three.

The Cavaliers found easy shots and out ran the Celtics in game three. They'll look to use the same strategy tonight. Once again, the Celtics paid extra attention to LeBron James and once again it helped, as the superstar managed 21 points, but took 15 shots to get there. The difference for the Cavs was the play of James' supporting cast. West scored 21 points and handed out seven assists, while backcourt mate Wally Szczerbiak added 16 points. Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Ben Wallace took care of the boards and came through with timely baskets. The Cavs bench led by veteran Joe Smith stepped up in a big way. Smith led the group with 17 points in 23 minutes. The Cavs shot 54-percent from the field and a scorching 53-percent from beyond the arc.

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