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NBA Eastern Conference playoffs betting cheat sheet

NBA Eastern Conference playoffs betting cheat sheet

NBA Eastern Conference playoffs betting cheat sheet

NBA fans who happen to reside somewhere else besides New England no doubt are wearing Cheshire cat smiles after hearing the news that Kevin Garnett is likely cooked for the season.

With the air out of the Celtics’ balloon, there could be opportunity. Boston will still draw decent play on rep alone, and money might be made by fading the Celts.

Boston was 34-23 against the number with Garnett this season and 8-15 without him. His defensive presence helped the under cover 33 of 57 times.

With Garnett in street clothes Boston becomes a perimeter offensive team. Defenses can stretch out a step or two on Pierce and Ray Allen with no Boston big that will force a double-team. Get set for Mikki Moore to play important minutes.

So the landscape changes in the East. Cleveland becomes even more of a prohibitive favorite, Orlando – which beat a Garnett-less Celtics team in Boston last month – figures it might now get to the conference finals, and the red-hot Bulls can rip up their first-round game plan and attack the hoop with not too much to be concerned about.

A look at the Eastern Conference heading into the playoffs:

High seed with the worst draw – Orlando

Elton Brand’s early-season injury caused a lot of people to write off the Sixers, but it turned out to be a blessing in disguise. Philadelphia’s young horses were confused about how to play with Brand, and now without him they can floor it. Andre Miller is better than most point guards, and certainly better than Rafer Alston. The Sixers make too many bad decisions on both ends of the court to win the series, but they can stretch it out.

Highest seed with the best draw – Cleveland

Sometime in the next few weeks Joe Dumars will have to sit down and start sketching plans for a complete re-make of this team. The Chauncey Billups-Allen Iverson deal was made because of Iverson’s expiring contract, not for competitive reasons. Detroit is a tired team. Rasheed Wallace has turned into a 6-foot-11 perimeter player, Tayshaun Prince is limited and Richard Hamilton could be trade bait. The Pistons won 20 fewer games this year than in 2007-08, and desperately need new blood.

Lowest scoring series

Miami and Atlanta played four games this season, the under came in every time, the losing team averaged fewer than 79 points, and in three of those games the loser failed to crack 80:

(at) Atlanta 81, Miami 79

(at) Atlanta 91, Miami 83

(at) Miami 95, Atlanta 79

Atlanta 87, (at) Miami 73

Highest scoring series

Jump hard on the Celtics and Bulls. Paul Pierce’s history is that when a starter is out (Antoine Walker, Al Jefferson, Kevin Garnett) he will come out firing. Pierce figures to make the first series a personal showcase. The Bulls will try to run the Celtics into the ground. The mid-season trade for John Salmons and Brad Miller might buy another year for Chicago GM John Paxson.

Most telling trend going into the playoffs

What the hell is wrong with the Magic?

With Garnett on the sidelines all Orlando had to do was play halfway decent down the stretch to lock up the No. 2 seed in the East. Instead, the Magic chili-dipped against the Raptors at home on April 1, then proved that it was no fluke by turning in stinkers against the Knicks, Nets and Bucks, ceding No. 2 to Boston. Orlando was 0-5 ATS until a meaningless season-ending win and cover against Charlotte. Don’t compare the Hedo Turkoglu injury to Garnett’s, but without Turkoglu’s outside shooting things will be more difficult as opponents collapse on Dwight Howard.

Biggest X-factor

Short of kidnapping, there isn’t much that anyone can do about Dwyane Wade. But Miami will need someone else to step up to take the heat off, and the leading candidate is Michael Beasley. Under the radar all season, Beasley closed out the season with five straight 20+ scoring games – four of them against playoff teams.

Biggest home-court advantage

C’mon. If you have to ask at this point . . .

Team that could surprise

The top four seeds should all make the Eastern Conference final four, but if you feel like going against the grain, Philadelphia might be an option. Miller has been an underrated point guard his entire career, Andre Iguodala and Thaddeus Young can finish, and the Sixers play hard every game. They could steal one in the House of the Mouse and cost Stan Van Gundy some sleep.

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