NBA News and Notes May 15

NBA News and Notes May 15

Hornets at Spurs, Game 6
By Brian Edwards

San Antonio has won four of the last nine NBA titles, but the Spurs have yet to repeat during that dynastic stretch. If they are going to repeat this year, they’ll have to win a pair of elimination games against New Orleans.

The first win-or-go-home scenario is Thursday, when the Spurs will play host to the Hornets in Game 6 of the Western Conference semifinals. Las Vegas Sports Consultants opened San Antonio (62-30 straight up, 40-48 against the spread) as a six-point favorite with a total of 184½. By early Wednesday evening, most spots had the Spurs at seven or 7½, with the total down to 184.

Gamblers can earn a huge payout by backing New Orleans (63-29 SU, 56-33 ATS) to win outright for a plus 250 return (bet $100 to win $250).

Byron Scott’s team bounced back from losses in San Antonio in Games 3 and 4 by trouncing the Spurs 101-79 in Game 5. David West shook off a miserable Game 4 performance and erupted for 38 points, 14 rebounds and five blocked shots.

The Hornets easily took the cash as 4 ½-point favorites. The 180 combined points fell ‘under’ the 186-point tally, mainly due to the Spurs’ atrocious 11-point output in the third quarter.

San Antonio took a three-point lead into intermission and seemingly had all the momentum. But behind the brilliant play of Chris Paul and tenacious defense against Tim Duncan, New Orleans regained control of the series in the second half.

Paul scored 16 of his 22 points after halftime. He also dished out 14 assists. Morris Peterson added 12 points.

Duncan had 10 points and 23 rebounds, but he made just 5-for-18 shots from the floor. Tyson Chandler, who was a non-factor in Game 4, stymied Duncan defensively all night.

Manu Ginobili scored a team-high 20 points for the Spurs. Tony Parker finished with 18 points, but his 4/3 assist-turnover ratio was shaky.

Although San Antonio is staring vacation in the face, it has to feel good about returning home. The Spurs took out New Orleans 110-99 in Game 3, hooking up their backers as 7 ½-point favorites.

In Game 4, Gregg Popovich’s team spanked the Hornets by a 100-80 count as a five-point ‘chalk.’ That beatdown was so thorough that Popovich was able to rest his starters for the entire fourth quarter.

San Antonio owns a 39-7 SU record and 24-18 spread mark at home. Meanwhile, the Hornets are 27-18 SU and 25-17 ATS on the road.

Tip-off for Thursday’s Game 6 is scheduled for 9:05 p.m. Eastern. ESPN will provide television coverage.

**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**

--The ‘under’ is 50-40 overall for the Spurs. However, the ‘under’ hasn’t been as prevalent in San Antonio’s home games, cashing at a 23-22 clip.

--The ‘over’ is on an 8-3-1 in San Antonio’s last 12 games (regardless of venue).

--The ‘under’ is 24-20 for the Hornets on the road.

--The totals have been a wash in this series, going 2-2-1.

--Chandler (foot) and West (back) are nursing injuries but won’t miss any significant playing time.

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NBA PLAYOFFS

WESTERN CONFERENCE

(2) New Orleans (7-3, 6-4 ATS) at (3) San Antonio (6-4, 4-5-1 ATS)


The defending NBA champion Spurs, who find themselves at elimination’s doorstep after another blowout road loss in Game 5, hope to even things up again at the AT&T Center against the Hornets, who can claim a spot in the Western Conference finals with an upset victory tonight.

On Tuesday night, New Orleans trailed by three at halftime, then outscored San Antonio 28-11 in the third quarter and coasted to a 101-79 victory as a 4½-point home chalk. David West went off for 38 points and 14 rebounds for the Hornets, who bounced back from double-digit losses in Games 3 and 4 in San Antonio. New Orleans is just 1-3 SU and ATS on the highway in the playoffs, with the winner cashing in each contest.

San Antonio, is now just 2-4-1 ATS in its last seven games dating to the first-round series win over Phoenix. However, the Spurs are 5-0 SU (3-1-1 ATS) at home in the playoffs.

New Orleans leads the season series with San Antonio 5-4 SU and ATS, and although the visitor claimed the first two battles in the regular season, the home team is now on a 7-0 SU and ATS run. Also, eight of the nine meetings this season have been double-digit blowouts, with the average margin of victory this season being 17.7 points per game.

In addition, in this rivalry, the straight-up winner has taken the cash in all nine clashes this season and is 12-2 ATS in the last 14 head-to-head contests. Finally, the favorite is 12-4 ATS in the last 16 meetings, including 5-0 ATS in this playoff series.

The Hornets are on ATS streaks of 44-21-1 overall, 4-1 on one day of rest, 13-6 against the Western Conference and 23-11 after a double-digit victory. On the negative side, though, New Orleans suffered double-digit losses on the road in Games 3 and 4 of this series and is 1-4 ATS in its last five on the highway and a lowly 1-10 ATS in its last 11 Thursday contests.

The Spurs have little to brag about at the betting window, as they are mired in ATS funks of 7-15-1 against Southwest Division rivals, 3-7 on Thursday, 3-8-1 after a SU loss and 3-9-1 after allowing more than 100 points. But San Antonio is 4-1-1 ATS in its last six at home, winning by 11 and 20 points respectively in Games 3 and 4 of this playoff series.

The over was 2-0-1 in the first three games of this series, but the last two contests have stayed low, bucking a bevy of “over” trends for both teams. The over for New Orleans is still on streaks of 8-2-1 in conference semifinal games, 6-1 on Thursday, 4-1 after scoring 100 or more points, 6-2 when catching five to 10½ points on the road and 8-3 as a road ‘dog of any price. The under, though, is 6-1 in the Hornets’ last seven games played on one day of rest and 5-1-1 in their last seven as a playoff underdog.

For San Antonio, the over is on sprees of 8-3-1 overall, 5-1 as a chalk, 4-1 as a home chalk, 5-1 after a non-cover, 6-2 when laying five to 10½ points at home, 7-2 at home against teams with a winning road record and 13-6-1 in conference semifinal contests. On the flip side, the under is 17-8-1 in the Spurs’ last 26 against the Southwest Division and 38-18 in their last 56 after a SU loss.

Finally, the over is 8-3 in the last 11 head-to-head meetings in San Antonio.

ATS ADVANTAGE: SAN ANTONIO and OVER

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Thursday’s best NBA bet
COVERS.com

New Orleans at San Antonio -7½, 184

If you’ve been throwing a few bucks on the Spurs here and there hoping their experience would shine through at some point, now’s probably about time to stop – even if they’re back home staring elimination in the face.

It seems like San Antonio is right in the mix of every game up until halftime and then the wheels fall off when Chris Paul and Co. keep on running. The Spurs tried to let Tony Parker off the leash so that he might balance Paul’s production, but that isn’t working. Parker had 18 points to Paul’s 22, but Paul also added 14 assists while David West dropped 38 points in comparison to Tim Duncan’s 10.

The Spurs won’t panic on the ropes and they could come out with a huge game if Duncan bounces back. New Orleans smells blood though, and if they can’t end it now, they could be in real trouble.

Pick: New Orleans

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NBA Today

New Orleans at San Antonio (9 p.m. EDT). The Hornets are 6-0 at home this postseason, but just 1-3 on the road as they try to close out the defending NBA champions.

Friday, May 16

Boston at Cleveland (8 p.m. EDT). The Celtics, who have yet to win on the road in these playoffs, can advance to the Eastern Conference finals with a win over the Cavaliers.

STARS


-Kevin Garnett, Celtics, had 26 points and 16 rebounds to lead Boston to a 96-89 victory over Cleveland.

-Kobe Bryant, Lakers, scored 26 points in Los Angeles' 111-104 win against Utah.

NO PLACE LIKE HOME

Boston beat Cleveland 96-89 on Wednesday night to stay unbeaten at home and move within a win of the Eastern Conference finals. The Celtics have yet to win on the road in these playoffs, allowing the eight-seeded Atlanta Hawks to go the distance before advancing from the first round. But Boston, which had an NBA-best 66-16 record in the regular season, doesn't have to win on the road to win the title. ... Home teams have won 19 of 20 games in the second round of the NBA playoffs.

ONE WIN AWAY

The Los Angeles Lakers extended the stunning home success by NBA teams in the second round of the playoffs Wednesday night, beating the Jazz 111-104 to take a 3-2 lead in the Western Conference semifinals. The Lakers, who never trailed, can advance to the conference finals for the first time since 2004 with a victory Friday night in Utah. The Lakers have won seven straight home games over Utah. ... Los Angeles has won 18 of its last 21 home games in the postseason, while the Jazz have lost seven of their last nine road playoff games, including four in a row.

SPEAKING

``We're going to get one. I don't know when. It would be great if it's Game 6.'' - Boston coach Doc Rivers after the Celtics beat Cleveland 96-89 Wednesday night. The Celtics are looking for their first road win of these playoffs when they travel to Cleveland for Game 6 on Friday.

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Road team scoring way down in NBA playoffs
By LEE KOSTROSKI

The phrase, “The series doesn’t start until the home team loses,” is uttered often this time of the year. With the NBA and NHL Playoffs in full swing and 7-game series often coming down to what team can defend its home court, that expression certainly has its validity. Never more so than in the second round of the NBA’s postseason, where the home teams have dominated thus far.

The home team has combined to go 15-1 SU and 13-2-1 ATS in the second round so far. The lone outright win came in Game 4 of the Detroit-Orlando series, where the Pistons stole a 1-point win from the Magic on a questionable non-call in the final seconds. Otherwise, the home teams could be looking at a perfect 16-0 mark right now.

The biggest issue holding the visitors back is the most basic of deciding factors. They simply can’t put the ball in the basket. Scoring at home hasn’t been the issue for the remaining squads. Scoring away from home has been a whole other story, though, at least in the second round.

All eight remaining teams have averaged fewer points on the road than at home and, in most cases, there is a significant difference. The Celtics, who owned the league’s best road mark during the regular season but have yet to win away from home during the postseason, own the smallest scoring differential but that’s only because they can’t really score at home either. Boston is averaging 82.5 points per game at home and just 80.5 points per game on the road.

Boston’s second-round foe Cleveland has a far greater differential. The Cavs averaged 98 points per game in winning Games 3 and 4 at home after averaging just 72.5 points per game in Boston, a difference of 25.5 points per game.

The other Eastern Conference semifinal, between Detroit and Orlando, is following the lead of Boston-Cleveland. Detroit is averaging 95.5 points per game at home but just 88 points per game in Orlando. In fairness, that difference can be chalked up to Chauncey Billups playing less than four minutes in Orlando. The Magic have no such excuse, averaging 100 points per game at home and a mere 82.5 points per game in Detroit.

The Western Conference, as most would expect, as has seen higher overall scoring outputs but has suffered from the same traveling affliction as the East. The Lakers are averaging 114.5 points per game in the Staples Center but just 103.5 points per game in regulation in Utah’s EnergySolutions Arena. The Jazz are putting up similar numbers with 113.5 points per game at home and 104 per game on the road.

The second-seeded Hornets and third-seeded Spurs have both seen considerable differences in point production. New Orleans averaged 101.5 points per game at home in jumping out to a 2-0 series lead but couldn’t get the lid off the basket on the road, averaging just 89.5 points per game.

San Antonio, one would think, shouldn’t suffer this same problem based on its postseason experience. But not even the playoff-proven Spurs can escape this epidemic. They have averaged 105 points per game at home but just 83 points per game in New Orleans, a difference of 22 points per game and the second-biggest margin of the second round.

Low-scoring efforts on the road haven’t really affected the totals much, though. The under is just 8-7-1 as the high scores from the home teams have balanced out the low scores of the visiting teams. These vast scoring differentials have led to some massive blowouts in the second round. The average margin of victory for the home teams is a robust 13.9 points per game with 11 of the 15 wins coming by double digits

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