NBA News and Notes May 25

NBA News and Notes May 25

Lakers at Spurs, Game 3
By Josh Jacobs

If giving up a 20-point lead in Game 1 (L.A.’s comeback ranked as the second-biggest rally from a second-half deficit in a playoff game since 1998) wasn’t a momentum shock then getting canned 101-71 in Game 2 must serve as hitting rock bottom for San Antonio.

Most books have set San Antonio as five-point home favorites, the lowest spread between these two clubs since meeting in January of 2007. What can we surmise from the spread, the past performance in this Western Conference battle and individual player contributions?

For starters, the Lakers have been cashing tickets at the window with a 10-3-1 ATS run in their last 14 games overall, not to mention a 17-5 ATS bank breaking record in their last 22 road contests.

While Kobe Bryant and Pau Gasol have lived up to the hype, under the radar star Lamar Odom has been the third man in this L.A. equation. Odom has raised his stock by improving his scoring output to 15.8 PPG with 11.9 rebounds per game since Gasol joined the starting lineup in February. For the first half of the season, Odom was shooting for 13.2 PPG with 9.9 RPG.

If we learn anything from the Spurs in Game 2’s debacle its that averaging 17.8 points per quarter (scoring just 14 points in the fourth quarter) and shooting 34.5-percent from the field isn’t going to get it done. Just once this season did San Antonio score lower then 71 points this season (its final score in Game 2), in a 90-64 defeat in Utah. When the Spurs scored 80 points or lower their record of 1-8 was in direct correlation to a sluggish offensive effort.

San Antonio guard Manu Ginobili fits the bill when we talk how individual play (or lack there of) has been a direct handicap to the team’s success. Most sources have indicated that Ginobili’s combined 17-points in the last two have been a result of an ankle injury. Logging in just 23 minutes in Game 2 was evidence that both fatigue and a nagging injury have raised questions about Ginobili’s future efforts.

Hypothetically speaking, the Spurs went 6-3 straight up, 4-5 against the spread, averaged 93.6 PPG and had the ‘over’ go 5-4 during the regular season when Ginobili was unable to suit up due to injury.

Looking at the 192-point total (the total has averaged close to 195 in the last 10 head-to-head matchups) reveals the ‘under’ should be worth contemplating. In the last eight head-to-head meetings in San Antonio the ‘under’ has been golden with a 7-1 record. Supporting the ‘under’ play is a combined average score of 190.6 PPG in 15 contests in Alamo City (dating back to November of 2000). In those 15, the Lakers are 6-9 SU, while averaging just 93.4 PPG.

And how can the Spurs maintain a high level of competitiveness when the team has put together an unspeakable 25.6-percent from beyond the arc. In Game 1, San Antonio managed to sink just five of 20 shots from three-point range, while six buckets out of 23 tries in Game 2 was the icing on the cake. Free throw shooting has been just as deplorable. The Spurs are 17-for-27 (39%) from the charity stripe in the Western Conference Final (just getting to the line has been a failure).

On defense the Lakers have executed defensive strategy text book style. L.A.’s Vladimir Radmanovic has helped hold San Antonio’s Bruce Bowen and Michael Finley to a combined 14 PPG (Finley was scoreless in Game 1).

If San Antonio wants to craft this series back to even ground major adjustments need to be made. On top of the live or die attitude from three-point territory and shooting retched numbers from the field overall, the Spurs star Tim Duncan needs to improve his play as well. Duncan was held to just 12 points in Game 2, helping add to L.A.’s off kilter second half scoring.

In both Games 1 and 2, the Lakers have dominated the third and fourth quarters, outscoring San Antonio 101-68 (oddly enough, the Spurs have scored 34 points in the second half of both contests).

Other Odds and Ends

-- The Lakers are 6-0 ATS in their last six games following a SU win of more then 10 points.

-- L.A. is 9-2-1 ATS in its last 12 after scoring 100 points or more in its previous game.

-- San Antonio is 4-9-1 ATS in its last 14 following a SU loss but are 10-3 ATS in its last 13 Conference Finals games.

-- On a cold streak at the window, the Lakers are 1-4 ATS in their last five Conference Finals games.

-- The Spurs’ Bowen, Finley and Fabricio Oberto combined for 20 points with three rebounds in Game 2.

-- San Antonio is on a five-game ride in the ‘under’ department.

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Re: NBA News and Notes May 25

NBA PLAYOFFS

WESTERN CONFERENCE

(1) Los Angeles (10-2, 8-3-1 ATS) at (3) San Antonio (8-6, 7-6-1 ATS)


Two days after suffering a 30-point loss, the Spurs try to get back in their best-of-seven Western Conference final series with the Lakers when the two square off for Game 3 inside the AT&T Center.

Los Angeles crushed San Antonio 101-71 as a 6½-point favorite on Friday to take a 2-0 lead in the series and put the pressure on the Spurs to hold serve at home. The Lakers dominated every aspect of Friday’s contest, limiting the Spurs to 34.5 percent shooting, including 26.1 percent from the 3-point line, and San Antonio shot just 50 percent from the free-throw line.

Meanwhile, Phil Jackson’s squad shot 54.9 percent from the floor in Game 2 and outrebounded the Spurs 44-36. Lamar Odom led the way for Los Angeles with 20 points and 12 rebounds.

The Lakers lead the season series 4-2, with the home team winning all six contests, but the Spurs lead at the betting window, 4-2. Los Angeles has eliminated the Spurs seven times in the last 10 postseason head-to-head matchups, going 3-0 in conference finals.

The Lakers are 3-2 SU and 3-1-1 ATS on the highway in the postseason. Also, they sport positive pointspread streaks of 10-1-1 after a SU win, 7-1-1 following an ATS win, 6-1-1 when playing on one day of rest, 35-16-2 on the road, 22-8-2 as a ‘dog, 19-7-2 as a road ‘dog and 4-1 on Sundays. However, despite the Game 2 rout, L.A still. is just 3-9-1 ATS in its last 13 games against teams from the Southwest Division and 1-4 ATS in its last four conference finals contests.

The Spurs are back home where they are 5-1-1 ATS in their last seven overall and 5-2-1 ATS at home against teams with a winning road mark. Gregg Popovich’s squad is also on ATS runs of 13-4 in conference finals action (including 6-2 in the last eight), 21-8-1 as a playoff favorite of five to 10½ points and 4-1-1 following an ATS loss. On the downside, the Spurs are 4-9-1 ATS in their last 14 following a SU loss and 3-6-1 ATS in their last 10 against Pacific Division foes.

Friday’s game stayed well below the 193½-point total, making the under 2-0 in this series and 6-2 the last eight meetings between these two. Additionally, the under is 7-1 in the last eight head-to-head matchups in San Antonio. The under is also on streaks for the Spurs of 36-16 following a SU loss, 5-2 on Sundays, 7-2-1 overall and 6-1 on one day of rest. For the Lakers, the under trends are 6-1 following an ATS win, 4-1 as a road ‘dog and 7-2 following a SU win.

Conversely, the over is 5-2 in the Spurs’ last seven as a favorite and 7-3 in their last 10 against teams with a winning road mark. For the Lakers, the over is 7-3 in their last 10 Sunday games and 5-2 in their last seven as a ‘dog of five to 10 ½ points.

ATS ADVANTAGE: SAN ANTONIO and UNDER

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Re: NBA News and Notes May 25

Sunday’s best NBA bet
COVERS.com STAFF

Los Angeles Lakers at San Antonio -5, 192


Is this just a case of déjà vu or have the San Antonio Spurs been here before?

It was only a few weeks ago when the Spurs flew home from New Orleans down 2-0 to the Hornets and they were all but written off by every basketball pundit on the planet. They were called old, sluggish, slow, disjointed – but what happened when they returned to the comforts of the AT&T Center? Back-to-back wins.

But that was the young and inexperienced Hornets and this is the Lakers, doubters might argue. Yet who aside from Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher, on the Lakers roster has any significant playoff experience? Los Angeles has been getting big contributions in this series from guys like Sasha Vujacic and Jordan Farmar, but these are exactly the guys who could be rattled on the road.

Just look at what happened in Salt Lake City in the last round. The Lakers were coming off a pair of easy home wins, but when they had to travel to Utah and face a team that, like the Spurs, had an impressive record at home, they choked. They gave up 18 turnovers and even Bryant, who normally has ice in his veins, went 0-for-6 from beyond the arc. You can bet the Spurs are going use the same tactic and crank up the defensive pressure to test this young team’s resolve.

The Spurs have a 25-18-3 ATS record in San Antonio this year and they’ve gone 3-1-1 in their own building through these playoffs.

Pick: Spurs

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