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NBA News and Notes May 13

NBA News and Notes May 13

NBA PLAYOFFS

EASTERN CONFERENCE

(3) Orlando (5-4, 4-5 ATS) at (2) Detroit (7-3 SU and ATS)


After a stirring come-from-behind victory in Game 4 in Orlando, the Pistons return home looking to put the finishing touches on the Magic when the teams square off in Game 5 of this best-of-7 Eastern Conference semifinal series.

With star point guard Chauncey Billups (hamstring) on the sidelines in a suit, Detroit fell behind by 11 points at halftime on Saturday in Orlando. But Flip Saunders’ squad ratcheted up the defense over the final 24 minutes and outscored the Magic 46-34 and held on for a 90-89 victory as a 5½-point road underdog. For the first time in the series, Detroit held a rebounding advantage (39-35) and it prevailed despite shooting 4-for-13 from three-point range, compared with Orlando’s 10-for-18 effort from beyond the arc.

Detroit is now on a 10-1 run against the Magic in the playoffs, including sweeping them out of the first round last spring. The Pistons now lead the season series 5-3 SU and ATS, and the winner has cashed in all eight games. Also, the visitor is 16-8-3 ATS in the last 27 head-to-head matchups, but only 1-3 SU and ATS in this series.

The straight-up winner is now 21-1-1 ATS in Orlando’s last 23 games and 18-0 ATS in Detroit’s last 18.

The Pistons are on a 4-0 SU and ATS run at home in the postseason since losing Game 1 to the Sixers in the opening round. For the season, they’re 38-8 inside the Palace of the Auburn Hills (30-16 ATS). Meanwhile, the Magic are 1-3 SU and ATS on the highway in the playoffs after going 27-14 SU and ATS as a visitor in the regular season.

Orlando is still on ATS streaks of 8-5 against the Eastern Conference, 7-3-1 against Central Division squads, 8-3-1 on Tuesdays and 29-11-1 after a non-cover. However, they’re mired in pointspread slumps of 3-7-1 as an underdog and 1-5-1 as a playoff underdog catching between five and 10½ points.

Detroit is 11-3 SU and ATS in its last 14 games going back to the regular season. The Pistons are also on pointspread runs of 5-0 as a favorite, 13-3 at home, 5-1 against the Southeast Division, 7-2 against the Eastern Conference, 8-3 in conference semifinal action and 4-1 after a victory.

Games 1 and 4 of this series stayed under the total, while the middle contests flew over the posted price. That said, the over is still 9-4 in the last 13 series meetings overall and 10-2 in the last 12 battles in Detroit.

From there, however, both teams are in the midst of several “under” streaks, including 13-5 for the Magic overall, 9-2 for the Magic on the road, 5-1 for the Magic as an underdog and 7-2 for the Magic against the Central Division. The under is also 15-7 in Detroit’s last 22 overall, 11-5-1 in its last 17 on two days’ rest, 13-5 in its last 18 as a favorite and 17-6 in its last 23 versus the Eastern Conference.

ATS ADVANTAGE: DETROIT and UNDER


WESTERN CONFERENCE

(3) San Antonio (6-3, 4-4-1 ATS) at (2) New Orleans (6-3, 5-4 ATS)


Having clawed their way back into this best-of-7 series with a pair of convincing home victories, the Spurs now head back to the Big Easy for a pivotal Game 5 showdown against the Hornets, who are unbeaten at home in the postseason.

San Antonio imploded in a pair of double-digit losses in New Orleans in Games 1 and 2, but rebounded with a pair of double-digit routs at home, including Sunday’s 110-80 victory as a 5½-point favorite. In the Game 4 rout, the Spurs outshot the Hornets 51.3 percent to 40.2 percent and held a 45-36 edge in rebounding. Also, San Antonio’s All-Star trio of Tim Duncan (22 points), Manu Ginobili (15) and Tony Parker (21) combined for 58 points, 25 rebounds and 19 assists, even though none played as much as 35 minutes.

The season series is now tied 4-4. And since the visitor won the first two clashes in the regular season, the home team has taken the last six both SU and ATS. Also, the straight-up winner is 12-2 ATS in the last 14 head-to-head contests, including 8-0 ATS in the eight battles this year. Finally, the favorite is 11-4 ATS in the last 15 meetings, including 4-0 ATS in this particular playoff series.

Despite the results of the last two games, the Hornets continue to sport a bunch of positive ATS trends, including 43-21-1 overall, 36-15-1 after a SU loss, 19-7-1 as a favorite, 8-0-1 as a favorite of less than five points, 21-7 as a home favorite, 7-1 as a playoff favorite and 7-2-1 on Tuesdays. On the downside, New Orleans is just 3-7 ATS in its last 10 conference semifinal games.

Even though San Antonio has gotten the cash the last two games and is 5-0-2 ATS in its last seven Tuesday affairs, the rest of the team’s ATS trends are all negative, including: 1-7 on the road, 1-5 as an underdog (all on the road), 0-4 as a playoff underdog of less than five points, 3-13 as an underdog of less than five points.

The over was 2-0-1 in the first three games of this series, but Sunday’s contest stayed low. The under is now 9-4-1 in San Antonio’s last 14 as an underdog of less than five points and 5-1 in New Orleans’ last six games played on one day of rest.

Otherwise, both teams are in the midst of the following “over” trends: 4-1-1 for New Orleans at home, 5-1-1 for New Orleans as a favorite, 8-1-1 for New Orleans in the conference semifinals, 8-2-1 for San Antonio overall, 4-1-1 for San Antonio on the road, 5-2-1 for San Antonio versus Central Division rivals and 13-5-1 for San Antonio in the conference semifinals.

ATS ADVANTAGE: NEW ORLEANS and OVER

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Re: NBA News and Notes May 13

Pistons look to advance
By Chris David

Five straight years and counting, the Pistons have made a trip to the Eastern Conference finals. That number could reach six on Tuesday, with the franchise needing just one win to clinch.

Detroit opened up a commanding 3-1 lead against Orlando on Saturday by pulling out a 90-89 road victory in Game 4. Trailing by 15 points early in the third quarter, the Pistons could’ve packed it in but the club used an 18-2 run to take the lead and eventually enter the final 12 minutes tied at 70-70.

The fourth quarter featured intense defense and clutch shots, which are two things that has put head coach Flip Saunders and the Pistons on the map.

Tayhsaun Prince hit a running hook shot in the lane with 8.9 seconds left in the game which gave Detroit the last and final lead of the game. Orlando’s Hedo Turkoglu let the clock run a tad too long and saw his lay up rim out in the final seconds.

The combined 179 points dipped ‘under’ the closing total of 187 ½, which came after a second half that only saw 80 points posted by the Pistons and Magic. The first quarter and half both went ‘over’ in Game 4.

Detroit became the first team to win on the road in the second round of the playoffs. Home teams have dominated both straight up and against the spread, going 14-1 and 12-2-1 respectively.

Prince made the final bucket but it was Richard Hamilton who lit up the Magic for 32 points on 12-of-24 shooting from the floor.

Surprisingly, Orlando shot the ball well from 3-point land (55%) in Game 4 but still floundered down the stretch. After scoring 20 points in Game 3’s 111-86 victory last Thursday, Dwight Howard finished with a series-low eight points. Rashard Lewis also failed to duplicate his 33-point performance in Game 3 and finished with just 15 points.

The road win was even sweeter for Detroit considering the team was without All-Star point guard Chauncey Billups, who was out after straining his hamstring in Game 3. Billups only missed three games during the regular season and the club went 2-1 without his services.

His status is listed as “questionable” for Game 5 but be sure to stay abreast with our injuries and player updates.

Rodney Stuckey (6) and Lindsey Hunter (8) combined for 14 points as backups in Saturday's win.

Tip off is slated for 7:00 p.m. EDT with TNT offering national coverage.

Gambling Notes:

-- Detroit won and covered the first two games at The Palace of Auburn Hills by 19 and seven points. The second win was certainly one to remember as Detroit closed the game with a 5-0 run from the free throw line.

-- Oddsmakers made the Pistons a seven-point favorite for Game 5, while the total is hovering between 185 and 186.

-- Despite the two losses in Motown, Orlando still owns a solid 28-17 record (both SU and ATS) on the road.

-- Detroit has outscored teams 99-88 at home this year, which has produced a 38-8 SU and 30-16 ATS record.

-- The ‘under’ has gone 3-1 in Orlando’s four postseason games away from home.

-- The Pistons have witnessed the ‘under’ go 25-19 at home this season, however the ‘over’ has gone 3-2 at home in the postseason.

-- In the previous five trips to the conference semifinals, the Pistons have never won a series in four or five games. They’ve won in six and seven games twice apiece.

-- If necessary, Game 6 is slated for Sunday from the Magic Kingdom.

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Re: NBA News and Notes May 13

Tuesday Playoff Gameday

Rasheed Wallace and the Detroit Pistons will be looking to close out their second-round series with a win over the Orlando Magic on Tuesday. Here's your playoff gameday …

Orlando Magic at Detroit Pistons

After dropping the first two games of this second-round series the Magic bounced back with a 111-86 win over the Pistons in Game 3 last Wednesday night. However, Orlando couldn't quite duplicate that feat in Game 4 on Saturday, as they fell 90-89 to go down 3-1 in the best-of-seven series. Hedo Turkoglu had a team-high 20 points for the Magic in that loss, while Jameer Nelson, Rashard Lewis, and Maurice Evans scored 15 points apiece. Dwight Howard was held to eight points and 12 rebounds. Richard Hamilton led the Pistons' attack with a game-high 32 points in the win. Tayshaun Prince added 17 points on the night, Wallace had 16 points, and Antonio McDyess grabbed 14 rebounds.

The oddsmakers like Detroit's chances of closing out this series on Tuesday night, as they opened as 5.5-point favorites. The total for the contest was opened at 184 points.

San Antonio Spurs at New Orleans Hornets

The Spurs' chances of repeating as NBA champions weren't looking good after the first two games of their second-round series against the Hornets - New Orleans won those games at home by scores of 101-82 and 102-84. However, San Antonio rebounded with a 110-99 win in Game 3 last Thursday, and they then tied up the seven-game series with a convincing 100-80 victory on Sunday. Tim Duncan led the way for the Spurs with 22 points and 15 rebounds in Game 4, while Tony Parker picked up 21 points and added eight assists. Manu Ginobili was good for 15 points and eight assists. Chris Paul poured in 23 points in Sunday's loss for the Hornets, and David West had just 10 points.

Despite the Spurs' winning streak the oddsmakers still like the Hornets at home in Game 5 - they opened as 4-point favorites. The total for the contest was opened at 185.

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Re: NBA News and Notes May 13

Spurs-Hornets: New Orleans favored back at home
ASSOCIATED PRESS

NEW ORLEANS (AP) - Tyson Chandler had a rare game without a basket, Peja Stojakovic didn't hit one 3-pointer and David West had an awful shooting night while turning the ball over three times.

The Hornets looked tense, stressed and sometimes lost on offense in their 100-80 Game 4 loss at San Antonio. Now they're set as three-point favorites for Game 5 back at home.

Yet New Orleans coach Byron Scott had other concerns heading into Tuesday night's fifth game of this deadlocked second-round playoff series.

''We've got to understand defense is what got us to this particular point,'' Scott said. ''We've got to come out and make sure we put some pressure on them on the defensive end. ... We can't worry about the offense, to be honest with you.''

Scott's philosophy is the Hornets must make defense their priority at all times, because getting opponents to miss shots or turn the ball over is what gives star point guard Chris Paul the best chance to push the ball effectively the other way.

The Hornets' chances of winning plummet when they get stuck in a slower tempo, half-court game, especially against a Spurs team that has mastered that style.

Scott said his players showed a ''lack of trust'' in the defensive game plan Sunday night, sometimes scrambling to the perimeter to guard the threat of an outside shot, only to be burned by one of Tony Parker's driving layups or a pass inside to Tim Duncan.

Duncan continually caught passes close to the basket, where he was able to turn quickly and drop in shots off the glass on his way to 22 points.

''It's just being disciplined. You've got to take away layups,'' Scott said. ''If you've got a guy shooting jump shots that are contested, and he makes it, so be it.''

So fed up was Scott with the lack of execution on defense that he asked his players during practice on Monday to tell him how they preferred to guard Duncan and the Spurs' well-executed pick-and-rolls.

''I felt in Games 3 and 4 they got away from trusting what we we're doing, so I pretty much put it in their hands,'' Scott said. ''Whatever we do, basically, they have to feel comfortable out there doing it and they have to have that conviction out there every single time.''

Scott said his players offered a handful of proposals, some of which he liked and some of which he didn't. They plan to walk through some of those adjustments during Tuesday morning's shootaround.

The Spurs got a well-earned rest on Monday, when they traveled back to New Orleans.

San Antonio coach Gregg Popovich said he did not expect the Hornets to look as flat as they did Sunday now that they're back in New Orleans, where they are undefeated in five games this postseason.

''Every game in the playoffs is difficult and for the most part, more difficult on the road than at home, that's for sure,'' Popovich said. ''We're going to have to play a really, really good game to come away with a win'' in New Orleans.

Popovich's major adjustment in this series came in Game 3 in San Antonio. He inserted Manu Ginobili into the starting lineup in place of Michael Finley, and had Bruce Bowen change defensive assignments from Paul to Stojakovic, a perimeter sharp shooter who had five 3s in the Hornets' Game 2 victory in New Orleans. Parker, in turn, guarded Paul.

The idea was that even if Parker struggled to contain Paul, San Antonio's defense would improve against the Hornets' other top scorers, and Paul could not win a game by himself.

For two games in San Antonio, at least, it worked.

''We played at a better pace,'' Ginobili said. ''It's easier to do that at home than over there with their fans. So we're going to have to try and maintain our composure for 48 minutes over there. Don't let them get in one of those runs where they become really dangerous.''

If the Spurs pull out a victory, they can close out the series back in San Antonio on Thursday night. That's why Scott said the Hornets must treat Game 5 as if it's a winner-take-all Game 7.

Paul, however, said he's ''not too worried'' about the Hornets' prospects yet.

''We're not down 0-3. It's 2-2,'' Paul said. ''We're still in a great situation. We're back here at home. We'll go back up 3-2 with a win. ... We're not in panic mode.''

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Re: NBA News and Notes May 13

NBA Today

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

Wednesday, May 14

Cleveland at Boston (8 p.m. EDT). The Cavaliers are attempting to overcome an 0-2 deficit for the second time in two years.

STAR

-LeBron James, Cavaliers, had 21 points and 13 assists to lead Cleveland to a 88-77 win over Boston.

HOMESICK

Cleveland beat Boston 88-77 in Game 4 of their Eastern Conference semifinals Monday night to tie the best-of-seven series at 2-2. The Celtics dropped to 0-5 on the road in the postseason, a stunning slip for a team that went 31-10 on the road during the regular season. During a short visit to Ohio, the Celtics lost their momentum in the series but will now head home, where they went 35-6 before the playoffs started.

ALL-DEFENSIVE TEAM

League MVP Kobe Bryant and Kevin Garnett were selected to the NBA All-Defensive Team on Monday, along with Marcus Camby, Bruce Bowen and Tim Duncan. The second team is Shane Battier of the Houston Rockets, Chris Paul of the New Orleans Hornets, Dwight Howard of the Orlando Magic, Tayshaun Prince of the Detroit Pistons and Raja Bell of the Phoenix Suns.

SPEAKING

``He can dunk. Especially if you give him a running start at the basket. It's probably going to be a pretty good dunk and he's so darn powerful that once he gets up there, there's not a lot you can do. - Celtics coach Doc Rivers on LeBron James after Boston fell to the Cavaliers 88-77 on Monday night. James delivered a devastating dunk over a defenseless Kevin Garnett in the final two minutes.

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Re: NBA News and Notes May 13

Tuesday’s best NBA bets
COVERS.com STAFF

Orlando at Detroit -6½, 185½

Jameer Nelson is either courageous or stupid – we’ll find out which it is on Tuesday. Following a tough 90-89 loss that put Orlando down 3-1 in the series, Nelson guaranteed a Game 5 win.

"You know what, we're going to make some adjustments and we're going to win this game," Nelson told reporters after the Game 4 loss. "I'm not trying to be arrogant or cocky or anything like that. We're going to win this game in Detroit."

As if that weren’t enough, the point guard also promised he would make his free throws after going 2-for-6 from the line in the Game 4 loss. As far as the Magic were concerned, it was the second game of the series that could have gone either way.

It’s easy to read too much into post-game guarantees like this, but the Pistons aren’t the kind of team you want to provoke with bulletin board material - especially on their own floor.

Pick: Detroit


San Antonio at New Orleans -3, 186½

Until one of these teams breaks serve in enemy territory, it probably makes sense to keep riding the home team. But a healthy Tim Duncan makes a big difference.

Duncan played through a nasty flu bug during the first two games of the series and struggled against New Orleans’ double teams. Now he looks fit to take charge when he needs to after dropping 22 points, grabbing 15 boards and swatting four shots in Game 4’s win.

Possibly more importantly – the Spurs defense finally showed up in San Antonio. Chris Paul scored 23 points, but Jannero Pargo was second on the score sheet with only 11 points. That could spell trouble for New Orleans.

Pick: San Antonio

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Surging Spurs face stiff test in New Orleans

The Hornets hope to get their sting back when they head back to New Orleans for Game 5 against San Antonio on Tuesday night, while the Orlando Magic have their backs against the wall with Game 5 looming against Detroit.

The Spurs and Hornets clash in Game 5 of their series deadlocked at 2-2 after San Antonio took both games at home to even up the series. San Antonio whipped New Orleans 100-80 as a 5-point favorite on Sunday night, as Tim Duncan had his best game of the series with 22 points and 15 rebounds. Tony Parker also had a solid game with 21 points, six rebounds and eight assists, while Manu Ginobili poured in 15 points to go along with eight assists.

The Hornets played one of their worst games of the playoffs so far, with Chris Paul leading the way with 23 points and only five assists. David West was effectively guarded by San Antonio all night and could muster only 10 points on 4-of-15 shooting. Peja Stojakovic barely registered on the scoresheet with six points, while Tyson Chandler battled foul trouble and finished the night with only two points and four rebounds.

The Hornets can look forward to heading home for Game 5 considering the home team has won every game of the series so far.  With the series moving back to New Orleans, the Hornets are a 3-point favorite in Game 5.

Meanwhile, the Pistons can put the Magic away with a victory at home in Game 5 on Tuesday night. Even with Chauncey Billups sidelined by a strained hamstring, Detroit was able to take a 3-1 series lead with a tight 90-89 win as a 5.5-point underdog on Saturday night. Richard Hamilton made up for Billups’ absence with a game-high 32 points, while Tayshaun Prince delivered 17 points. Rookie Richard Stuckey and veteran Lindsey Hunter played most of the minutes at point guard in place of Billups and combined for 14 points and six assists.

Hedo Turkoglu led the Magic with 20 points, but he couldn’t hit a layup as time expired that would have given Orlando the much-needed win. Jameer Nelson, Maurice Evans and Rashard Lewis all had 15 points for the Magic, while Dwight Howard had another frustrating game with only eight points on 3-of-12 shooting.

Billups remains questionable for Game 5, but with the Pistons heading home for the possible clincher they are a 7-point favorite in Game 5.

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Re: NBA News and Notes May 13

Indian Cowboy NBA Playoff Tuesday Research

Detroit vs. Orlando


I've already put out my plays for the basketball card as it is just baseball that I need to do for today. As per this game, how frustrated must you be if you are a Magic fan? The Pistons did beat this team fair and square in game 1. Then, this team I feel gets robbed in game 2 by a horrible decision by the referees, they win game 3, then give up a 15 point lead with no Billups in game 4. Thus, what you have here, is a team that could be up 3-1 themselves going on the road with home court advantage, instead, they are down 1-3 going on the road facing elimination with no home court advantage. Just brutal. It just goes to show how big each of these games are. Heck, each playoff selection is a relative big deal as well as frankly, I talked about the Cavs winning yesterday and still took the over as I failed to cash in on my over rather than simply taking the Cavs at home given that the Celtics are now 0-5 on the road in the playoffs. On a side note, the Celtics look like the biggest chump team on the road in the playoffs, I do like Doc Rivers calling out Rondo for his "hero shot" that he was taking fading away from the basket - good call Doc, especially considering when you have 3 hall of famers that can shoot that shot besides Rondo. As per this game, I'd have to think that Stan Van Gundy lights a fire in his players' ***, in particular Dwight Howard who was essentially non-existent in Game 4 despite his team's 15 point lead. I look for Orlando to be an active dog as this is one of those games that is either an Orlando outright win or a Detroit cover as I don't believe the 6 points will make the difference. After all, in the previous 4 games the favorite has won or the dog has won outright, with the Pistons winning the game on the road in game 4 and the home teams holding serve in the first 3 ballgames. I look for this game to likely go over on the road today in Detroit.

San Antonio vs. New Orleans

I simply cannot wait for this game. Both these teams have held serve similar to the Lakers vs. Jazz series which should shift considering Kobe's back stiffness. As per this game, if you believe the Hornets are able to score with ease at home, then you should lean on them, however, if you believe in the Spurs momentum, you should lean on them. I personally think this series is likely to go to game 7. After all, what you have is home teams holding serve and I would have to imagine that Byron Scott calls out Peja, Tyson and David West for their lack of play on the road as the only person that showed up in the 2 games in San Antonio is Chris Paul. I expect the Hornets to be fired up at home, not necessarily to take a lead early, but to eventually have a big 3rd quarter as they did in game 1 and game 2, After all, every game in this series has been decided by 9 points or double-digits, in the regular season as well if I am not mistaken. Here is the breakdown of every game the Hornets and Spurs have played this year + playoffs:

05/11/08 SA 100 - NO 80 (20 Point Spurs Win)
05/08/08 SA 110 - NO 99 (11 Point Spurs Win)
05/05/08 NO 102 - SA 84 (18 Point New Orleans Win)
05/03/08 NO 101 - SA 82 (19 Point New Orleans Win)
03/12/08 NO 100 - SA 75 (25 Point New Orleans Win)
02/23/08 SA 98 - NO 89 (9 Point Spurs Win)
01/26/08 SA 78 - NO 102 (24 Point New Orleans Win)
11/09/07 NO 85 - SA 97 (12 Point San Antonio Win)

Do I like the fact that 65% is on the Hornets, no. However, there have been countless times when heavy public favorites have indeed won, including the Lakers in game 1, the Cavs against the Wizards in the first 2 contests and so on, plus, the Hornets consistently play hard and this team has a great deal of incentive to show up at home today. I lean on the Hornets with no real opinion on the total as it is likely to give a heart burn for any to bet the total between these 2 teams.

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