NBA News and Notes May 16

NBA News and Notes May 16

Celtics hope to close
By Chris David

How does a team that notched 31 road victories in the regular season not be able to pick up one win away from home in the postseason? Boston head coach Doc Rivers is trying to figure out that answer and hoping to do it sooner than later.

The Celtics have another chance to answer the bell on Friday when the club visits Cleveland for Game 6.

“If Boston is going to step up, then it better not leave its defense at home,” said VegasInsider.com handicapper Mark Fox.

“The Celtics owned the second best defense in the league during the regular season, yet they’ve been torched in the playoffs on the road by two attacks that I wouldn’t classify as stellar.”

Boston allowed 90.3 points per game this year, the second best effort behind Detroit (90.1 PPG). In five postseason games against the Hawks and Cavaliers, the team has given up 99.6 PPG.

What’s even more eye opening is that the best player, LeBron James, for the Cavs hasn’t even played well at home in the second round. The All-Star posted a pair of 21-point efforts in the Cavs’ two home wins in Game 3 and 4 but only shot 12-of-38 (31.5%) from the field.

On Wednesday, James put forth his best game of the series by posting 35 points on 48 percent shooting (12-of-25) and making 11-of-13 free throw attempts.

Despite the top performance, Boston still captured a 96-89 victory in Game 5. The Celtics received 29 points from Paul Pierce and 26 points from Kevin Garnett in the victory, but Ray Allen continued to struggle with 11 points.

Cleveland covered as a nine-point road underdog in Game 5’s loss and the combined 187 points jumped ‘over’ the closing total of

Fox added, “The Celtics traded away their future draft picks by acquiring Ray Allen from Seattle in the offseason. The former UConn standout has been good in the regular season but continues to show his softness in the postseason. You can bet that Pierce and Garnett are hoping he can step up for the remainder of the playoffs.”

Allen’s performance has become contagious with Boston and its outside shooting in this series. Through five games, the team has managed to hit just 27 percent (20-of-73) from downtown. During the regular season Doc’s club hit 38 percent from 3-point land, which was the fifth best mark in the league.

Cleveland’s long-ball attack could be in jeopardy Friday, with Daniel Gibson (shoulder) listed as “out” for Game 6. He’s expected to miss the next 1-2 weeks as well, possibly keeping him out of the remainder of the playoffs.

Tip-off is slated for 8:05 p.m. EDT, with ESPN providing national coverage.

If necessary, Game 7 is slated from Boston on Sunday.

Gambling Notes:

-- The Cavaliers are listed as three-point favorites in Game 6.

-- Mike Brown’s team was laying 1 and 2 points in their first two contests at Quicken Loans Arena versus the Celtics, but gained a little respect from the books and public for their third home battle against the Celtics.

-- Total players have watched the number jump for the sixth installment from 176 to 179 after Game 5.

-- The ‘under’ has gone 3-2 in the first five games.

-- Cleveland has covered four of the five matchups, despite trailing 3-2 in the best-of-seven series.

-- The Cavs are 4-1 both SU and ATS at home in the playoffs, while the Celtics are 0-4 both SU and ATS on the road.

-- Home teams are 19-1 straight up in the second round of the playoffs. Detroit’s 90-89 victory against Orlando in the conference semifinals was the lone road win.

Chris David can be reached at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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Re: NBA News and Notes May 16

Utah's Kirilenko misses practice before Game 6
May 15, 2008

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -Utah Jazz forward Andrei Kirilenko missed practice Thursday because of a travel visa, a day before Utah faced the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 6 of the Western Conference semifinals.

Agent Marc Fleisher said Kirilenko had to finalize a travel visa for a family trip to France this summer and Thursday was the only day he could do it without having to wait another month. Fleisher said Kirilenko, who is a Russian citizen, told the Jazz ahead of time about the conflict and was given permission to miss practice.

Jazz general manager Kevin O'Connor said Kirilenko told coach Jerry Sloan he had an appointment for the visa that had been scheduled for weeks. Kirilenko was still expected to start Friday night.

The Jazz returned to Utah early Thursday after a 111-104 loss in Los Angeles, putting the Lakers up 3-2 in the series.

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Jazz don't want to stay home after Game 6
May 15, 2008

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -Happy to be home, the Utah Jazz are desperate for another chance on the road.

Utah hosts Game 6 of the Western Conference semifinals Friday night against the Los Angeles Lakers, who lead 3-2 and can wrap it up by becoming the first road team to win in the series.

Los Angeles won at home 111-104 Wednesday night to move within a victory of clinching. The Jazz had their most competitive road performance of the series, but still couldn't overcome the Lakers - even as Kobe Bryant played conservatively with a bad back.

If the Jazz lose Friday, they won't get another chance.

``If we lose, we go home,'' forward Matt Harpring said. ``We certainly don't want to lose on our home court the last game of the year. No way.''

The Lakers have the advantage of knowing a loss won't end their season. They also know that eventually Bryant's back will be healthy enough for him to drive to the basket again. But the best thing for Bryant's back would be ending this series as soon as possible and letting him rest up before the Western Conference finals.

Los Angeles coach Phil Jackson said Bryant and three other starters sat out Thursday instead of practicing. He added that Bryant, Lamar Odom, Derek Fisher and Pau Gasol already know what they need to do Friday night in Utah, where the Jazz are 4-1 in the playoffs and went 37-4 in the regular season.

``The message is being under control. It's about execution at this point. It's about winning the game,'' Jackson said. ``There's a lot of intensity. We probably have to play 10 points better than we did last night to win it.''

Bryant was not available to reporters Thursday afternoon.

Odom said Bryant's performance in Game 5 was an example for the rest of the Lakers. The league MVP's back stiffened up in the fourth quarter and he did not attempt a field goal in the period, but still finished with 26 points, seven assists and six rebounds.

``Incredible, as always,'' Odom said. ``Kobe made plays for us when he needed to.''

The Jazz were pretty relaxed at practice Thursday morning, although still unhappy about Gasol's offensive rebound and dunk to put the Lakers up 107-102 with 20 seconds remaining in Game 5. The Jazz felt Gasol shoved Mehmet Okur in the back before grabbing the rebound, but there was no foul called.

``You can't worry about that. If you keep that in your craw, then you're going to be affected by it in the next game,'' Utah coach Jerry Sloan said. ``The biggest thing to do is to wipe it out and get ready to go tomorrow night.''

The Jazz couldn't blame the loss on Gasol's late rebound. It was one of six he pulled down in the game and all six were on offense.

Utah had several other missed opportunities, but still was within one point in the final minutes.

``You watch the tape of the game, you wish you could jump in the screen and play it all over again,'' said Carlos Boozer, who had 18 points and 12 rebounds. ``I thought we had the opportunity to take the lead a few times, and looking back on it, it's definitely frustrating. You put the pressure on the home team if you get the lead.''

Boozer said he and guard Deron Williams watched video from the game on the flight home. As difficult as it was, he said the Jazz showed they could hang with the Lakers in Los Angeles and would be confident playing a Game 7 there.

Now, they just have to force one.

``We've got two left with them,'' Boozer said. ``We've got to win tomorrow night to have the second one.''

After making the Western Conference finals a year ago, the Jazz face getting knocked out one round earlier.

The Jazz are 1-1 when hosting a Game 6 and trailing 3-2 in the last 10 years. The victory came in the first round a year ago when the Jazz beat the Rockets in Utah, then won the seventh game on the road.

The loss isn't a pleasant memory.

It was the 1998 NBA finals, when the Jazz had won in Chicago to pull within 3-2, then lost the series at home when Michael Jordan hit a jumper from the top of the key in the final seconds.

Jordan was the MVP that season. Bryant was the MVP this year. The Jazz want the similarities to end there.

``I think it's exciting myself. I always have loved to be in those situations. If you like to play, what better position could you be in?'' Sloan said. ``They have to come and beat us, and we hope we don't beat ourselves.''

Sloan was coaching Utah in that series and could rely on veterans John Stockton and Karl Malone to counter Jordan and the Bulls. He has a considerably younger team this year, led by third-year point guard Williams.

Williams has been averaging nearly 23 points and 11 assists in this series. He scored 27 on Wednesday and had 10 assists.

The rest of the Jazz haven't been as consistent. Sloan said he was disappointed in some outside shots his players took quickly Wednesday night instead of setting up the offense and giving the inside players a chance at the rebound.

But he said overall, the Jazz's composure has improved each game.

``We're tough enough,'' Sloan said. ``I think we've grown a lot in that area.''

Utah forward Andrei Kirilenko missed practice Thursday to deal with visa details for a summer trip to France, according to agent Marc Fleisher. Fleisher said Kirilenko had to take care of the visa, which is required because he is a Russian citizen, on Thursday or wait another month.

The Jazz said that Kirilenko was expected to play Friday.

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Re: NBA News and Notes May 16

Cavs lose Gibson with shoulder injury
May 15, 2008

INDEPENDENCE, Ohio (AP) -Cavaliers guard Daniel Gibson will miss Game 6 of Cleveland's playoff against the Boston Celtics after separating his left shoulder during the second half Wednesday night.

Gibson, one of the Cavs' best perimeter shooters, left early in the fourth quarter following a collision and did not return. The team estimated he would miss one to two weeks.

The Cavaliers trail 3-2 in the best-of-seven series and could be eliminated Friday night.

Gibson emerged as a star in Game 6 of last year's Eastern Conference finals against Detroit.

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NBA Today

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.

STAR

-Tim Duncan, Spurs, had 20 points and 15 rebounds to lead San Antonio to a 99-80 victory over the New Orleans Hornets in Game 6 of the Western Conference semifinals.

GOING THE DISTANCE

Manu Ginobili scored 25 points, Tim Duncan had 20 points and 15 rebounds, and Tony Parker added 15 points in the Spurs' 99-80 victory over the New Orleans Hornets in Game 6 on Thursday night. The win forced a seventh game on Monday in New Orleans in the Western Conference semifinals. Home teams are 20-1 in the second round.

SPEAKING


``Thank God we get to go back to New Orleans for Game 7.'' - Hornets guard Chris Paul after a 99-80 road loss to the San Antonio Spurs in Game 6 of the Western Conference semifinals on Thursday night. The loss forced a seventh game on Monday in New Orleans in the Western Conference semifinals. Home teams are 20-1 in the second round.

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Friday's best NBA bets
COVERS.com

Boston at Cleveland -3, 179

Like many great superstars, you knew it wasn’t a question of whether Kevin Garnett would bust out again, but rather when he’d get back to form. It didn’t take long.

After three subpar outings – by KG’s standards anway – Garnett dropped 26 points, grabbed 16 boards, dished out four assists, and added three blocks for good measure in Boston’s Game 5 win over Cleveland. Even more encouraging for Celtics bettors was that Paul Pierce chipped in with 29 points and Rajon Rondo added 20.

That said, it’s obviously been all about home teams in these playoffs and the Cavaliers aren’t backing down a bit. LeBron James had a big night with 35 points in the club’s latest loss, but didn’t get much help from the rest of Cleveland’s cast and still managed to keep Game 5 close.

The Cavs will bounce back with a better effort tonight.

Pick:Cleveland

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NBA PLAYOFFS

EASTERN CONFERENCE

(1) Boston (7-5, 5-7 ATS) at (4) Cleveland (6-5 SU, 8-3 ATS)


The defending Eastern Conference champion Cavaliers hope the home court continues to hold form in this series as they try to fend off elimination in Game 6 against the Celtics at Quicken Loans Arena.

Boston remained perfect at home in the playoffs Wednesday night by pulling away in the third quarter, then fending off a late Cleveland run for a 96-89 victory, but failing to cover as a nine-point chalk. The Celtics countered LeBron James’ 35 points by getting 29 from Paul Pierce, 26 from Kevin Garnett, 20 from Rajon Rondo (who had 13 assists) and 11 from Ray Allen.

Boston has been struggling at the betting window lately, with a 4-7 ATS mark in its last 11 games – all in the playoffs. Cleveland, meanwhile, is 4-1 ATS in this playoff series and 5-1 ATS in its last six starts overall.

The Celtics lead the season series against the Cavs 5-4, but Cleveland is 7-2 ATS (5-1 ATS in the last six meetings). The home team is on a 10-0 SU tear (9-0 this season) but is just 5-5 ATS in that span. That said, the Cavaliers cashed in a pair of double-digit blowout wins over Boston in Games 3 and 4 and they’re 6-2 ATS in the last eight matchups at the Q (3-1 ATS this season). Finally, the underdog is on an 8-3-1 ATS run in this rivalry.

Both teams have contributed to a staggering overall statistic in the second round of this year’s playoffs: The home team is an eye-popping 20-1 SU and 16-4-1 ATS, with Detroit – which has already eliminated Orlando to advance to the Eastern Conference finals – the only team to post a road win.

Doc Rivers’ Celtics are 0-5 SU and ATS on the highway in this year’s playoffs and they carry a plethora of negative pointspread streaks into Game 6, including 1-7 in conference semifinal games, 1-5 against teams with a winning SU record, 1-4 on one day of rest, 1-4 as a playoff pup of less than five points, 1-4 after a SU win and 2-8 as a playoff underdog (0-2 this season). On the positive side: Boston is 19-7 in its last 26 games as an underdog, 40-16 in its last 56 as a road pup and 11-5 in its last 16 when catching less than five points.

The Cavaliers are 7-17 ATS in their last 24 after a spread-cover and 3-8 ATS in their last 11 contests at home against teams with a winning road mark. However, the pointspread trends turn positive from there, including 7-0 as a playoff chalk of less than five points, 6-1 as a playoff favorite of any price, 5-1 in conference semifinal games, 5-1 on one day of rest, 4-1 after a SU loss and 4-1 at home.

The over is 4-1 in Boston’s five road playoff games this year, but after that, the under for the C’s is on runs of 15-6 against the Central Division, 5-2 as a road ‘dog and 7-3-1 when catching less than five points in the playoffs. For Cleveland, the under is on a bevy of streaks, including 12-5 overall, 19-7 at home, 14-4 with the Cavs a home chalk, 13-3 in conference semis, 13-5-1 after a SU loss and 12-5 on one day of rest. However, the over is 23-11-1 in the Cavs’ last 35 games when giving less than five points.

Finally, the under is 3-2 in this playoff series (1-1 in Cleveland) and has cashed in four of the last six meetings going back to the regular season, though Wednesday’s game hurdled the 176-point posted price.

ATS ADVANTAGE: CLEVELAND and UNDER


WESTERN CONFERENCE

(1) L.A. Lakers (7-2, 6-2-1 ATS) at (4) Utah (6-5, 5-5-1 ATS)


Los Angeles, which again held serve at home in Game 5, will try to close out this series on the road in Game 6 at the EnergySolutions Arena, where Utah has posted an NBA-best 41-5 record this year.

The Lakers had all five of their starters score in double figures Wednesday night in holding off the Jazz 111-104, though they failed to cover as an 8½-point home chalk. Kobe Bryant’s ailing back didn’t prove too troublesome, as he finished with 26 points, and Lamar Odom had a double-double with 22 points and 11 boards to help offset 27 points and 10 assists from Utah point guard Deron Williams.

Los Angeles, which had won 10 straight games (9-0-1 ATS) before going to Utah for Games 3 and 4, is now just 0-2-1 ATS in the last three games. Meanwhile, despite cashing in its last two games, Utah is still just 3-5-1 ATS (4-5 SU) in its last nine starts.

Los Angeles is 6-3 SU (5-3-1 ATS) against Utah this season and 7-3-1 ATS in the last 11 contests. The home team is on a 6-2-1 ATS run in this rivalry and is 10-4-1 ATS in the last 15 battles overall, with the winning team cashing in all but two of those 15 games. Finally, the Jazz are 7-3-1 ATS in the last 11 clashes in Salt Lake City.

The Lakers are 1-4-1 ATS in their last six Friday contests, but the pointspread trends are nothing but positive from there, including 8-0-1 after a SU win, 7-1-1 as a road underdog, 4-1-1 on one day of rest, 6-2-1 in conference semifinal games, 21-8-2 as an underdog and 35-17-2 on the highway.

The Jazz also sport of bevy of positive ATS streaks, including 14-3-1 as a home chalk of less than five points, 6-0-1 as a playoff favorite of less than five points, 7-2-2 overall as a playoff favorite, 8-3 after a spread-cover, 38-13-2 as a home chalk of any price and 39-15-2 at EnergySolutions Arena.

Wednesday’s clash just cleared the 212½-point posted price, pushing the over to 13-6 in the last 19 meetings in this rivalry. For Los Angeles, the over is 13-6 in its last 19 after a non-cover and 10-4 in its last 14 Friday matchups, and the over for Utah is on runs of 23-8 against the Pacific Division and 10-4 against winning teams. However, the under trends for both teams include 4-0 with L.A. catching points, 5-1 after a Lakers SU win, 4-1 on the road for L.A., 4-1 with the Jazz playing on one day of rest and 18-7 for Utah after a SU loss.

ATS ADVANTAGE: UTAH

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Re: NBA News and Notes May 16

Lakers at Jazz Game 6
By Brad Young

Los Angeles has a chance to close out this best-of-seven series at Utah, but home teams have won the first five meetings straight-up. In fact, the home team is also 3-1-1 against the spread in this Western Conference semifinal. Home teams continue to dominate this postseason, going 20-1 SU while favorites are cashing tickets at a 15-5-1 clip.

Only one game in this series has been decided by five points or less, and that was a five-point victory by Utah in Game 3. The next contest did go to overtime, but the Jazz eventually prevailed in that matchup by eight points.

Caesars Palace lists Utah as a 3 ½-point home ‘chalk’ over Los Angeles, with the total set at 213. The total has remained constant, while the line originally opened at four. ESPN will provide coverage of Friday’s Game 6 beginning at 10:35 p.m. ET.

Los Angeles (64-27 SU, 53-36 ATS) took a 3-2 series lead with Wednesday’s Game 5 victory as an 8½-point home favorite, 111-104. The combined 215 points eclipsed the 212 ½-point closing total, helping the ‘over’ improve to 3-1 the past four games.

The game was tied going into the fourth quarter, but the Lakers outscored the Jazz in the final stanza, 30-23. Utah actually won the rebounding battle, 44-34, but lost the game at the free-throw line. The Lakers shot 34-of-42 from the charity stripe, while the Jazz were 24-of-28.

All five Los Angeles starters reached double digits in scoring, led by Kobe Bryant’s 26 points and seven assists. Forward Lamar Odom added 22 and 11 rebounds, while the bench provided just 13 points and six rebounds. The Lakers finished the game by shooting 47 percent (35-of-74) from the field.

Utah point guard Deron Williams led all scorers with 27 points and 10 assists, while forward Carlos Boozer added 18 and 12 rebounds. The Jazz shot 46 percent (37-of-81) from the field, and 35 percent (6-of-17) from behind the arc.

Los Angeles is 29-16 SU and 29-14 ATS on the road, with the ‘under’ going 25-19. The Lakers have been winning their home endeavors by an average score of 107-102.

Utah has been a classic Dr. Jekyll/Mr. Hyde team all season, going 41-5 SU and 29-13 ATS at home while struggling to a 19-28 SU and 20-27 ATS road record. The Jazz have been winning their home games by an average score of 108-95.

Neither team is listing any players as ‘doubtful,’ ‘questionable’ or ‘probable’ for Game 6. Kobe did skip Thursday’s practice to rest his aching back, and was limited to a playmaking role in Game 5’s fourth quarter.

vegasinsider.com.

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Re: NBA News and Notes May 16

Friday's best NBA bets
Covers.com

Boston at Cleveland -3, 179

Like many great superstars, you knew it wasn't a question of whether Kevin Garnett would bust out again, but rather when he'd get back to form. It didnt take long.

After three subpar outings by KG's standards anway Garnett dropped 26 points, grabbed 16 boards, dished out four assists, and added three blocks for good measure in Boston's Game 5 win over Cleveland. Even more encouraging for Celtics bettors was that Paul Pierce chipped in with 29 points and Rajon Rondo added 20.

That said, it's obviously been all about home teams in these playoffs and the Cavaliers aren't backing down a bit. LeBron James had a big night with 35 points in the club's latest loss, but didn't get much help from the rest of Cleveland's cast and still managed to keep Game 5 close.

The Cavs will bounce back with a better effort tonight.

Pick:Cleveland


L.A. Lakers at Utah -4, 212

It's great to see Deron Williams stepping up for the Jazz - the silky smooth point guard has racked up 56 points and 24 assists over the last two games. Now if only he could get a little help, especially from Carlos Boozer inside.

Boozer basically won Game 3 for the Jazz and has been solid on the glass, but he hasn't cracked 20 points in any other game in the series and was just 6-for-16 from the floor in Game 5. It wouldn't hurt if Andrei Kirilenko did something either shy in the paint, too. Then again, those seem like the numbers we can expect from the big Russian at this point.. AK-47 hasn't done better than 15 points against the Lakers while being

One of those guys has to match Pau Gasol's output as the series shifts back to Utah.

Pick: Lakers

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