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NBA News and Notes May 20

NBA News and Notes May 20

Celtics-Pistons preview
By Brian Edwards

**No. 1 Boston vs. No. 2 Detroit**

Series Price: Boston -135, Detroit +115

Series Format: 2-2-1-1-1

How they got here: These teams took distinctly different routes to the East finals. Detroit, which is in the NBA’s version of the Final Four for the sixth consecutive season, took out the 76ers in six games before disposing of the Magic in five.

As for the Celtics, they are still in search of their first road win in the post-season. Boston is 8-0 at home and 0-6 on the road, needing seven games to get past both Atlanta and Cleveland.

Paul Pierce scored 41 points to spark the Celtics to a 97-92 win over the Cavs in Game 7. However, the C’s failed to cover the number as eight-point home favorites.

With Game 1 set for Tuesday, Boston will have only one day to prep for the Pistons. On the other hand, Detroit hasn’t played since polishing off Orlando on May 13.

Gambling Notes: Both teams have demonstrated a propensity for producing ‘unders.’ The ‘under’ is 52-40 overall for Detroit, 52-43 for Boston. The ‘under’ has been especially prevalent for the two teams at home, cashing at a 28-20 clip for the Celtics and a 27-19 rate for the Pistons.

Detroit owns a 30-17 spread record at home, while Boston is 30-18 ATS at home. Although the Celtics are an abysmal 0-6 both SU and ATS on the road in the playoffs, they are 27-19 ATS on the road.

Outlook: Before the playoffs started, my pick to win it all was Boston. With that said, I can’t overlook the Celtics’ recent futility on the road.

By the same token, we’ve seen an extremely focused Detroit squad since intermission of Game 4 at Philadelphia in the first round. The Pistons have been money since then, taking the cash in every game with the exception of Game 3 at Orlando. They even overcame the absence of Chauncey Billups (hamstring; probable for Game 1) in Game 3-5 against he Magic.

Therefore, I like the Pistons to take this series in six games.

Future Advice: Obviously, as I just stated, Detroit is the play here, catching “plus” money. Even if the odds shift to make it an even-money selection, I’m still high on the Pistons. If you can find a book with odds on a specific game, take the Pistons to win in six, as I believe they’ll steal one of the first two games in Boston and hold serve at home.

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Re: NBA News and Notes May 20

Celtics vs. Pistons: Series preview and prediction
By RYAN STETSON

No. 1 Boston Celtics vs. No. 3 Detroit Pistons

Season series: Boston 2-1 SU and ATS

Everybody is praying for a Lakers-Celtics Final. Everybody – from David Stern to ESPN, NBC and every kind of betting shop in between you can think of. Though now that matchup seems a lot less likely than it did a week or two ago.

Sure, Boston beat the LeBrons at the end, but just barely. Now the Celtics have already played 14 postseason games and the so-called ‘Big Three’ has turned into the ‘Big One’ on most nights. That’s a serious problem Boston needs to fix. And pronto.

There doesn’t seem to be enough basketballs to go around for the Celtics, who have now dropped their last five games against the spread. One night Kevin Garnett will go off, dominating both ends of the floor and then he’ll disappear for two or three games. Same with Paul Pierce. He stepped up to will the Celtics to win Game 7 over the Cavs, but even he has only cracked 20 points four times in the playoffs. And as far as Ray Allen goes, Celtics bettors had better hope he figures out his terrible shooting funk in a hurry.

Meanwhile, the Pistons started slowly against Philadelphia, but picked up steam quickly once they got going and didn’t have much trouble against Dwight Howard and the Magic. Now they’ve been waiting around for the Celts to finish off the Cavs – which probably isn’t a bad thing for an experienced team, especially one with at least one significant injury concern.

Chauncey Billups is set to suit up Tuesday night after a strained right hamstring had him in street clothes for Game 4 and 5 of the Magic series. Detroit needs him to be ready to be a big part of this series, both offensively and defensively.

Expect tight defense and low totals throughout the series, though it will be really interesting to see how Boston manages defending an entire team after focusing on a single player (LeBron) for the last seven games. That adjustment could be a bit tricky.

The Pistons have their nasty back after a slow start to the postseason, while it remains to be seen if we'll ever see the best the Celtics have to offer.

Pick: Detroit in six games

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Re: NBA News and Notes May 20

NBA PLAYOFFS

EASTERN CONFERENCE

(2) Detroit (8-3, 7-4 ATS) at (1) Boston (8-6, 5-9 ATS)


The Pistons, who have been resting up for a week after dispatching the third-seeded Orlando Magic in five games, travel to TD BankNorth Garden to open the Eastern Conference finals against the Celtics, who just finished their second straight seven-game series in fending off Cleveland.

Detroit, which trailed by three points after three quarters of Game 5 against Orlando, got it going in the fourth quarter in winning 91-86 a week ago tonight, though the Pistons failed to cover as a six-point home chalk. Detroit is 7-1 SU and 6-2 ATS in its last eight starts, dating to a six-game, first-round series win over Philadelphia, though it has failed to cash in two of its last three.

Richard Hamilton has led the Pistons by averaging 21.5 points per game in the playoffs. Detroit, playing in its sixth straight conference finals, is allowing just 87.8 ppg, third-best in the postseason, while scoring 92.3 ppg. Star point guard Chauncey Billups (hamstring) sat out the last two games of the Orlando series but is expected to be good to go for this series.

Boston, which has lost all six of its road playoff games this year, has countered that by winning all eight of its home starts, including Sunday’s 97-92 Game 7 win over the defending Eastern Conference champion Cavaliers. Paul Pierce had 41 points, nearly keeping pace with LeBron James’ 45-point outburst, but while the Celts barely held on, they failed to cover as an eight-point chalk. Boston is on an 0-5 ATS slide and went just 1-6 at the betting window against Cleveland.

Kevin Garnett has been Boston’s go-to guy in the playoffs, averaging 20.3 points and 9.9 rebounds. The Celtics have fielded the best scoring defense so far in the postseason, allowing 86.1 ppg while scoring 91.6. Additionally, opponents are shooting a playoff-worst 41.0 percent, while Boston is hitting at a 44.4 percent clip from the field.

Boston took two of three from Detroit in the regular season, including a 90-78 home victory as a four-point chalk on March 5. However, the Pistons stole an 87-85 road win as a six-point underdog in the first meeting on Dec. 19, and the road team is on a 7-1 ATS tear in the last eight head-to-head clashes. In addition, the underdog is 5-1 ATS in the last six meetings, and the SU winner has cashed in the last four battles.

The Pistons are 12-3 SU and 11-4 ATS in their last 14 games going back to the regular season, and they are on additional ATS runs of 4-0 after a non-cover, 4-1 against the Atlantic Division, 5-1 after a SU win and 7-2 against teams with a winning percentage above .600. But Detroit still carries negative pointspread trends of 0-6 after three or more days off, 0-5 as a road pup of less than five points, 1-6 as a road ‘dog of any price, 2-7 as a playoff ‘dog of less than five and 3-7 overall catching points in the playoffs. The Pistons are also a meager 1-11 ATS in their last 12 conference finals games, including going 0-6 ATS (2-4 SU) against Cleveland in last year’s Eastern Conference finals.

The Celtics are also mired in several ATS funks, including 0-5 on one day of rest, 0-4 in the conference finals, 1-5 following a SU win, 1-4 as a playoff chalk of less than five points and a lengthy 18-38 as a home favorite of less than five points. On the positive side, though, the C’s are 11-3 ATS in their last 14 at the Garden and 6-0 ATS in their last six at home against teams with a winning road record.

The “under” trends are heavy for both teams entering this series. For Detroit, the under is on runs of 16-7 overall, 10-2 when coming off three or more days of rest, 10-2 on the highway, 14-3-1 in the playoffs as an underdog of less than five points, 17-5-1 as a playoff ‘dog of any price, 18-6 against the East and 20-8-1 in the conference finals. The under for Boston is on streaks of 4-0 overall, 4-1 as a playoff chalk of less than five points, 4-1 in the conference finals and 16-7 against the Central Division.

Finally, in this rivalry, the under has been the play in each of the last four meetings overall and each of the last five battles at the Garden.

ATS ADVANTAGE: UNDER

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Re: NBA News and Notes May 20

Third-Round Trends
May 20, 2008

One month into the NBA Playoffs and we’re down to the Conference Finals. In just two weeks the season will conclude with the Championship Finals as the 2007-08 season winds its way to the finish line.

Let’s take a peek into our database to see what we can expect from teams in the Third Round of the playoffs. Remember, all results are ATS (Against The Spread) in Third Round action over the past 17 years, unless stated otherwise. Enjoy…

DOWN BUT NOT OUT

You can blow a good team out once. Twice is not as likely.

As we’ve learned, teams that fail miserably tend to bounce back rather than stay down. In fact, teams off a pointspread loss of more than 10 points are a very profitable 32-19-1 ATS in 3rd round playoff action.

Bring them in off a SU upset loss as a favorite and they improve to 20-9-1 ATS. Let these upset losers dress up as dogs off a pointspread loss of more than 10 points and they become a 12-3-1 ATS winning proposition.

BETTER TEAMS MAKES NICE DOGS

Taking points with better teams will seldom put you in harm’s way.

Teams with a better win percentage takings points after a loss are 17-12-1 ATS in this round. Bring them in off a loss of 4 or more points and they improve to 17-8-1 ATS.

Best of all, when taking 4 or more points with a better team off a loss of 4 or more points you have a 10-2-1 ATS winning edge.

RUNNING ON EMPTY

You can hold a good team down, but not forever.

Teams that reach the 3rd round of the playoffs have established themselves as being better than most. When good teams come up with sub par scoring efforts they tend to bounce back in followup games.

That’s confirmed by the fact the road teams in Round Three who scored 78 or fewer points in their previous game are a wallet stretching 14-5-1 ATS. Better yet, if the Over/Under total in this round is less than 186 points they improve to 13-2 against the number.

There you have it. Three rock-solid betting theories you can hang your hat on throughout the 3nd round of this year’s NBA playoffs.

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Re: NBA News and Notes May 20

NBA Today

Detroit at Boston (8:30 p.m. EDT). The Celtics have won 14 straight - 8-0 in the postseason - at home.

STAR

-Manu Ginobili, Spurs, scored 26 points, sending San Antonio to the Western Conference finals with a 91-82 Game 7 victory at New Orleans.

GOOD OMEN

San Antonio and the Lakers met five times in the playoffs in a six-season span (1999-2004) with Los Angeles winning three series. The winner won the NBA title four times and lost in the finals the other time.

BACK AGAIN

San Antonio's 91-82 victory over New Orleans on Monday night was coach Gregg Popovich's 100th of the postseason, moving him into a tie with Larry Brown for third on the NBA's career list. The Spurs advanced to the Western Conference finals for the sixth time in 10 seasons, but only the first time after winning the championship the previous year.

LAYOFF

Boston has played three games since Detroit won its conference semifinal in five games against Orlando last Tuesday. The Celtics advanced with a 97-92 victory over Cleveland on Sunday in which Paul Pierce scored 41 points. Boston was 8-0 at home but 0-6 on the road in the first two rounds. The Pistons have three road wins in this postseason and are 5-1 at home.

NOT YET

The Hornets fell to 0-5 in second-round series following Monday night's 91-82 loss to San Antonio in Game 7.

SURGERY

Utah forward Paul Millsap will have surgery Thursday to repair his left thumb, which was injured during the Western Conference semifinals against the Lakers.

SPEAKING

``One thing I want them to remember when they start working out next season is how they feel right now. You have to go through some things before you can really understand how good it's going to feel when you get to that next level. You don't go from not making the playoffs to winning a championship. It just doesn't work that way. ... We're headed in the right direction.'' - Hornets coach Byron Scott after losing Game 7 of the Western Conference semifinals Monday night, 91-82 to defending NBA champion San Antonio.

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Re: NBA News and Notes May 20

Tuesday’s best NBA bet
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Detroit at Boston -4½, 174

Whew. So the Celtics finally made it through – now the question is whether they keep chugging along after surviving consecutive seven-game battles.

This time they have their work cut out for them. Cleveland put up a good fight, but a team like the Celtics shouldn’t have had that much trouble against a one-dimensional club like the Cavs – even if that one dimension is LeBron James.

Meanwhile, Detroit comes into Game 1 ready and rested with point guard Chauncey Billups set to return to the lineup after missing a couple games with a strained hamstring.

Detroit had its wake-up call in the first round against Philadelphia, but we still haven’t seen Boston’s best.

Pick: Detroit

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