NBA News and Notes May 28

NBA News and Notes May 28

Detroit at Boston, Game 5
By Brian Edwards

Detroit and Boston have played four games and settled nothing. Therefore, the Eastern Conference finals boils down to a three-game series with the Celtics owning home-court advantage.

Las Vegas Sports Consultants opened Boston (76-24 straight up, 59-39 against the spread) as a five-point favorite with a total of 174. As of Tuesday evening, most spots had the Celtics at 5½ with the total adjusted down to 174. Gamblers can back Detroit (69-28 SU, 54-42 ATS) to win outright for a plus 200 return (risk $100 to win $200).

Detroit bounced back from Saturday’s Game 3 loss by thumping the Celtics 94-75 in Game 4 on Monday night. The Pistons jumped out to a double-digit lead early, withstood several Boston threats and pulled away late in the fourth quarter for the comfortable cover as six-point home favorites.

Antonio McDyess exploded for a monster game, scoring 21 points and pulling down 16 rebounds. Richard Hamilton added 20 points and seven assists on 8-for-10 shooting from the field.

Jason Maxiell and Rasheed Wallace finished with 14 points apiece, combining to make 12-of-15 shot attempts. Maxiell converted all six of his tries in 20 big-time minutes off the bench. Wallace produced five blocks and five rebounds while forcing Kevin Garnett into a 6-for-16 shooting night.

Chauncey Billups continued to struggle from the field (3-12 FGA in Game 4; 1-6 in G’3), but he played a steady floor game with a 7/0 assist-turnover ratio and two steals.

Boston’s Big Three came up small in the losing effort. Garnett and Paul Pierce finished with 16 points apiece, while Ray Allen had just 11. The trio combined to miss 27 of their 38 shots from the floor.

Nevertheless, the Celtics still salvaged a split in Motown thanks to Saturday’s 94-80 triumph as five-point underdogs. They hooked up money-line backers with a generous plus 200 return at most books.

The Game 3 victory was Boston’s first road win in seven playoff games. Six players scored in double as figures as Boston basically dominated from the get-go. KG paced the balanced scoring attack, scoring 22 points to go with 13 rebounds. Kendrick Perkins also had a double-double with 13 points and 10 boards.

Sam Cassell had the audacity to talk about his frustration over a lack of playing time following the Game 3 win, yet he failed to score in 16 minutes of play in Game 4 (more on this topic below).

These teams split the two previous games in Beantown, with the C’s capturing an 88-79 win in Game 1. In Game 2, Detroit responded with a 103-97 victory.

The ‘under’ has gone 3-1 in the series, with Game 2 producing the lone ‘over.’

Tip-off for Game 5 is scheduled for 8:35 p.m. Eastern on Wednesday. ESPN will provide television coverage.

**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**

--Ray Allen was a combined 1-for-9 from 3-point range in Games 3 and 4 at Detroit.

--The ‘under’ is 7-1 in the last eight Boston-Detroit encounters.

--The ‘under’ is 29-21 for Boston at home, 26-22 for Detroit on the road.

--The Celtics are 31-19 ATS at home, but the Pistons are 23-24 ATS on the road.

--Sam Cassell has always been one of my favorite players. He’s enjoyed an outstanding NBA career and is one of the best point guards in ACC history. Cassell garnered national attention for the first time when he led Pat Kennedy’s FSU team to a win at North Carolina, infamously dubbing the Dean Dome’s inhabitants as a ‘wine-and-cheese’ crowd after the victory. He collected two rings during his days with the Rockets and has since led a pair of teams (Milwaukee and Minnesota) to their lone appearances in the conference finals during the last couple of decades. On the Power Hours, I’ve even gone so far as to say Cassell might be a borderline Hall of Famer (probably not, but certainly worthy of a discussion). With all that said, Cassell’s untimely comments before Game 4 could understandably and irrevocably tarnish his image.

Bottom line: When your team is deep in the playoffs and collects a huge road win to come within two games of making the NBA Finals for the first time since 1987, don’t rock the boat.

If you do, don’t miss all three of your shots when the team loses its next game.

VegasInsider.com

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Re: NBA News and Notes May 28

Wednesday's best NBA bets
Covers.com

Detroit at Boston -5½  173

You just knew there was no way the Boston Celtics were beating the Pistons in Detroit in Game 4 when Jason Maxiell came out of nowhere to catch up with Kevin Garnett on a fast break and swat his two-handed dunk attempt off the backboard. Now that's Pistons basketball and a play like that can rejuvenate old legs and bring the intensity up a notch.

The 33-year-old Antonio McDyess certainly stepped up, knocking down 21 points and fighting for 16 rebounds in the win.

"Dice has been our best player in the postseason, and we're all feeding off his energy," Chauncey Billups told reporters. "You see how hard he is working, and you can't help but play hard."

Especially when you don't want to head back to Boston down 3-1 in the series. Detroit is now 5-0 following a loss in the playoffs.

Pick: Detroit

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Wednesday Playoff Gameday

Detroit Pistons at Boston Celtics

The Pistons and Celtics have been trading victories in the NBA's Eastern Conference Finals, with both teams finding ways to win at home and on the road. The Pistons managed to win Game 2 in Boston to tie this best-of-seven series at one game apiece, and they also cruised to a 94-75 victory at home in Game 4 on Monday night to lock up the series again at two games apiece.

Antonio McDyess led the way for Detroit on the scoreboard on Monday, pouring in 21 points and grabbing 16 rebounds (both game-highs). Richard Hamilton tossed in 20 points and picked up seven assists in the win, while Rasheed Wallace and Jason Maxiell were both good for 14 points on the night. Chauncey Billups was limited to just 10 points.

For the Celtics, both Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce had a team-high 16 points, with Garnett also contributing 10 rebounds. Allen was held to 11 points in the loss, and Rajon Rondo managed to score just four points. Boston was held under 20 points in three of the four quarters in Monday's loss.

The oddsmakers like Boston's chances of taking a 3-2 lead in this series on Wednesday night, as they were opened as 5.5-point home favorites. The total was opened at 173.

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NBA Today

Detroit at Boston (8:30 p.m. EDT). The Celtics' only loss at home (9-1) in the playoffs was to the Pistons in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals. The series is tied 2-2.

STAR

-Kobe Bryant, Lakers, had 28 points and 10 rebounds, leading Los Angeles to a 93-91 victory over San Antonio and a 3-1 lead in the Western Conference finals.

FIRST TIME

San Antonio lost at home for the first time in eight games this postseason Tuesday night, 93-91 to the Lakers. Los Angeles leads the Western Conference finals 3-1.

STRONG IN DEFEAT

Tim Duncan had 29 points, 17 rebounds, three blocks and three steals, but San Antonio came up short in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals Tuesday night, losing 93-91 to the Lakers to fall behind 3-1 in the series.

HELP PLEASE

Tim Duncan (29) and Tony Parker (23) combined for 52 of San Antonio's 59 points by its starters in a 93-91 loss to the Lakers in Game 4 of the Western Conference finals Tuesday night. Center Fabricio Oberto and shooting guard Michael Finley went scoreless, although Finley played only 8:54 and was mostly replaced by also ineffectual Manu Ginobili (seven points). Brent Barry had 23 points coming off the bench for the Spurs, who trail the series 3-1.

STICKING AROUND

Sacramento exercised its club option for president of basketball operations Geoff Petrie on Tuesday, committing to him through the 2009-10 season. Petrie has worked 14 years for the Kings and twice was selected NBA executive of the year.

SPEAKING

``It was just a good defense and missed a lot of easy shots. You know, myself, Timmy (Duncan), we missed a lot of layups. It was just never - we never (were) in a good rhythm.'' - San Antonio guard Tony Parker after a 93-91 loss to the Lakers on Tuesday night left the Spurs one game away from playoff elimination.

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NBA PLAYOFFS

EASTERN CONFERENCE

(2) Detroit (10-5, 9-6 ATS) at (1) Boston (10-8, 7-11 ATS)


The Pistons, who bounced back from a Game 3 home loss to win Game 4 on Monday and even this best-of-7 series, travel back to the TD Banknorth Garden for the critical Game 5 battle with the Celtics.

Detroit kept Boston at arm’s length for the first three quarters Monday night, then pulled away late in the fourth for a 94-75 rout as a six-point home chalk. Antonio McDyess surprisingly led the Pistons with 21 points and 16 rebounds, while Richard Hamilton added 20 points as a total of five Pistons reached double figures. Meanwhile, the Celtics’ Big Three of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen shot a dismal 11-for-38 from the floor (28.9 percent), combining for 43 points.

Detroit is 14-5 SU and 13-6 ATS in its last 19 starts going back to the regular season. As for the Boston, it finished the regular season on an 11-1 SU and 10-2 ATS tear, but the Celtics have been wildly inconsistent in the playoffs, never winning or losing more than three games in a row. Also, the C’s are just 2-7 at the betting window in their last nine games.

Boston still leads the season series 4-3 SU and ATS, and the straight-up winner has cashed in seven straight meetings in this rivalry. Also, despite Detroit’s win and cover in Game 4, the road team is still 9-3 ATS in the last 12 clashes between these two, and the underdog has cashed in 12 of the last 17 contests.

The Pistons are on positive ATS runs of 8-1 as an underdog of five to 10½ points, 5-2-1 as a playoff ‘dog of that same price, 5-1 after a double-digit victory, 7-2 on one day of rest and 9-4 against teams with a winning percentage above .600. On the flip side, though, Detroit is on a 3-13 ATS slide in conference finals games and is 2-7 ATS in its last nine as a road pup and 0-4 ATS in its last four after a SU win.

The Celtics, who snapped their 0-6 postseason road losing streak in Game 3 after suffering their first playoff home loss in Game 2, are still 12-4 ATS in their last 16 at the Garden, 7-1 ATS in their last eight at home against teams with a winning road record and 7-3 ATS in their last 10 after a double-digit loss. However, Boston is mired in pointspread funks of 1-6 laying five to 10½ points, 1-7 laying that same price in the playoffs, 2-6 in the conference finals and 2-7 on one day of rest.

Monday’s Game 4 fell short of the 176-point total, running the red-hot “under” streak in this rivalry to 10-2 in the last 12 clashes, including 7-1 in the last eight contests (3-1 in this playoff series) and 6-1 in the last seven clashes at the Garden.

Furthermore, for Detroit, the under is on streaks of 19-8 overall (10-5 in the playoffs), 21-8 against the Eastern Conference, 21-9 against the Atlantic Division and 21-8-1 in the conference finals. For Boston, the over is 7-2 in its last nine when laying five to 10½ points, but the under is 7-2 in its last eight conference finals games and 19-8 in its last 27 against Central Division opponents.

ATS ADVANTAGE: UNDER

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Back in Boston, Celtics favored again
By ASSOCIATED PRESS

WALTHAM, Mass. (AP) -Doc Rivers wants his players to start listening to Pistons forward Antonio McDyess.

It wouldn't hurt if they started guarding him, too.

McDyess had his best game of the postseason in Detroit's Game 4 victory over Boston, then reminded his teammates that they can't afford to squander an opportunity to win a championship. A day later, Rivers cited McDyess and suggested that the Celtics could also learn from his message.

''I think the veterans really get that. I think the young ones always think there's another opportunity,'' Rivers said after practice on Tuesday. ''The whole thing is to show them how close we are, the sense of urgency they have to have. Because the other team has it.''

McDyess had 21 points and 16 rebounds - both playoff highs - to lead the Pistons to a 94-75 victory over the Celtics on Monday night and even the Eastern Conference finals at two games apiece. The best-of-seven series returns to Boston on Wednesday night for Game 5 with the Celtics set as 5 1/2-point favorites.

''(McDyess) knows that you can't take any of this for granted,'' Pistons coach Flip Saunders said. ''Some of our guys have been in six straight conference finals, which is an amazing achievement, but for some of our guys, this is the first time.

''Dice knows that, at this point of his career, it could always be his last. And all our guys need to realize that. You can't just expect there to always be a next time.''

Celtics forward Paul Pierce, who made just 3 of 14 shots on Monday night, passed along the same message to his teammates.

''We don't get this opportunity too much in our careers,'' he said after practice. ''We have to go out and play like it's our last, because you never know when this is going to happen again. ... We have to find some way, somehow to get a win at home and bring that momentum back to Detroit.''

Being at home was a considerable edge for the Celtics in their first two rounds, when they advanced without winning a single game on the road. Detroit swiped home-court advantage with a victory in Boston in Game 2, but the Celtics took it back by winning Game 3.

Despite a bad Game 4 for the trio of Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett, at least the Celtics know they do not have to win in Detroit again to eliminate the Pistons. But they no longer have the security blanket of that perfect home record.

''They never panic, especially Ray, Paul and KG. They're always poised,'' center Kendrick Perkins said. ''They never talk negative, even after the loss they stayed positive. It was like, 'Don't even worry about it. We aren't losing any more games at home.'''

The Celtics shot just 32 percent from the floor on Monday night, with the Big Three making just 11 of 38 shots, and kept it close only by making 32 free throws to 20 for Detroit.

''It is rare when all of them are missing shots,'' Rivers said, adding that the Celtics went to the line so often they never got into a shooting groove. ''They had the old Pat Riley idea that if you foul enough, they're going to stop calling half of them. And it's true.''

The Celtics spent a lot of time studying film on Tuesday afternoon, and Rivers walked them through some defensive and offensive situations. Saunders liked the way his players responded after he gave them an off-day before Game 3, so he gave them another.

The rest could benefit Pistons point guard Chauncey Billups, who scored 10 points with seven assists as he works himself back into form after being out for two weeks with a strained right hamstring.

''I think his leg is fine; I think he just needs to get his timing back. If you notice, he's playing better late in games, and I think some of that is just from getting into a rhythm,'' Saunders said. ''It isn't about how he plays, it is about how the team plays. When we lose, it is going to be his fault, and when we win, he'll get the credit. That just goes with being a point guard.''

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Celtics in another tight series; fatigue starting to show
By JULIAN DICKINSON

Are the Boston Celtics burnt out?

After their 94-75 loss to the Detroit Pistons on Monday night, it seemed that the team which finished the regular season with the best record in the NBA was running out of gas at a crucial time.

Maybe the loss was just another example of the much discussed road woes that have landed the C’s with a 1-7 record on the road (straight-up and against the spread) through these playoffs. But perhaps there’s more to it than that.

After going to seven games in both of their previous playoff series, the Celtics have now played 16 games in 31 days and that circuitous route to the conference finals seems to have started taking a toll. Fatigue usually manifests itself most visibly on the defensive end and the normally stout Boston defense has given up an average of 93 points in the last three games, including 103 points in Game 2 in Boston.

After that game, even Celtics players admitted they were suffering the effects of a grueling playoff stretch.

“I thought we were a step slower than we were in Game 1,” said Paul Pierce. “I think they did a great job at getting the ball from strong side to weak side, because we’re a strong-side defense. So it was tough once they reversed the ball and made us rotate those guys. We were a step late and those guys knocked down shots.”

Boston came back in Game 3 with its first road win of the playoffs but Monday’s loss was a one-sided affair in which, watching the Celtics, it was hard not to notice that they looked decidedly low on energy.

The slow-down probably started weeks ago but it has been masked by timely wins when the Celtics needed them most. Bettors, however, know that while the Celtics have done enough to stay alive in the playoffs, they haven’t been a money winner at the sportsbook.

Over their last 10 games, the Celtics are 3-7 against the spread. To be fair most of the discrepancy goes back to the Cleveland series in which the Celtics went 1-6 ATS, but there are signs that fatigue is starting to get to the C’s and it could cost their backers money as this series progresses.

Boston head coach Doc Rivers refused to admit that his team was worn down, but he did recently admit that the pressure and stress of a third consecutive tightly contested playoff series might be creeping into the equation.

"I don't like to use the fatigue card,” Rivers told reporters. “I did think before the game that Game 2 could be a fatigue game, but I don't think it's physical fatigue, but yes, from watching the film, there was some mental fatigue."

He wouldn’t make any similar excuses for his team regarding the Game 4 loss, but without more than a single day off since the first round of the playoffs, those problems are going to get worse before they get better.

Oddsmakers have set the Celtics as 5 ½-point favorites for Game 5. The total is 173.

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