NBA News and Notes Monday 4/20

NBA News and Notes Monday 4/20

Monday Playoff Preview
By Josh Jacobs

How much better can the excitement get during this time in the NBA? Of course other then being spot on in our selection process at the window, we’ve already seen the upset (Chicago over Boston), a young player taking charge when it matters most (the Bull’s Derrick Rose) and the likely All-Star canidate taking charge when his team needed it most (LeBron James and his 38 points, eight rebounds and seven assists).

And so the weekend has come and gone but don’t expect the action to dull down by any stretch of the imagination. With Monday comes a pivotal, two-game card to accommodate our betting appetite. And so let the games begin, or should we say continue?

Chicago at Boston (Chicago 1-0 in best of seven) – 7:00 p.m. EST

Did Game 1 prove the theory that Kevin Garnett is the difference maker for the Celtics? We all know that Boston could have used Garnett’s seasonal 15.8 PPG, but the 8.5 RPG, 1.2 BPG and just his presence from the paint to the perimeter seem irreplaceable at this point. There’s just no substituting Glen “Big Baby” Davis for Garnett’s superior skills.

But as coach Doc Rivers put it in Saturday’s postgame news conference, “Guys, Kevin is not playing in these playoffs. “I'm not answering any Kevin Garnett questions.”

And so the game must go on. But can Boston effectively turn the tables after dropping Game 1, 105-103 in overtime? For our No. 1 concern, wagering, the Celtics are 4-2 against the spread (5-1 straight up) when avenging a home loss versus an opponent this season, and are a sizzling 31-13 ATS in the last three years in this revenge spot. And after an upset loss as the favorite this season, Boston has done a solid job to bounce back as a 10-5 SU record indicates. But think twice before submitting that wager. A 6-9 ATS performance in this spot sure doesn’t do us justice.

These ATS numbers are great and all but if Ray Allen comes out of the locker room posting four points off 1-of-12 shooting (8.3%) like he did in Game 1, and Paul Pierce shanks a last second shot from the charity stripe in the fourth quarter then what good are the aforementioned trends in favor of the Celtics?

Changing sides in this discussion is a sharp and talented Chicago team who’s got its eye on the prize. It’s no secret that Derrick Rose’s 36 points, which tied Kareem Abdul Jabar’s scoring record in a playoff debut as a rookie, helped push the Bulls over the hump. But you can’t overlook Tyrus Thomas’ 16-point effort in this big ‘W’. In-fact Thomas was responsible for making six of Chicago’s eight baskets in overtime.

So can the Bulls use the same formula from Saturday and apply it in back-to-back wins at the Garden?

Again, from a standing position at the counter, Chicago has been successful in this spot in the second-half of the season, going 13-3 ATS versus a team with a winning record in the last 16. Overall, the Bulls are 20-13 ATS after the All-Star break (in the last 33 games).

But gamblers need to know that we’re treading in uncharted waters. Chicago last made a successful run through the postseason (successful defined as getting past the first round) during the 2006-07 season, sweeping Miami, 4-0. But the real feeling of accomplishment has not been seen since the end of the Michael Jordan era when it defeated Utah in the 1997-98 season.

The main point is it’s been some time since the king of the 1990’s has reached the Promised Land.

And if we are to use head-to-head trends then the case of how the Bulls can perform the upset remain difficult to envision. For example, Chi-Town is 2-7 ATS in the last nine tip-offs versus the Celtics and went 1-2 SU and ATS during the regular season. To complicate matters, the favorite is a scorching 9-3 in the last 12 head-to-head contests.

It’s just too bad that these ATS numbers aren’t foolproof or indicative of what will take place come Monday evening.

Whatever the outcome of the series there’s no denying that Chicago looks to have a bright future ahead while Boston maybe on the downturn of its "rented" championship. Then again, I could be wrong.

Early lines place the Celtics as 8 ½-point home favorites. A total of 196 has remained relatively steady since the board opened up financial figures. The 'over' is 3-0 in the last three meetings between these two squads.

Dallas at San Antonio (Dallas up 1-0 in best of seven) – 9:30 p.m. EST

Our attention shifts out to the State of Texas where the Mavericks took an important first step by defeating intrastate rival, San Antonio, 105-97 in Game 1. Maybe the most important part about the first ‘W’ was grabbing it in enemy territory.

Dallas is just 2-3 SU in its last five games played in San Antonio, but bettors have seen a different side to this story. In the last 12 games played at AT&T Center, the Mavs are a money hungry, 10-2 ATS. Combine this with Dallas’ 18-8 ATS record in the last 26 overall meetings together, and a 15-6 ATS stint for the road team in the last 21 head-to-head games and these are some numbers you can take to the lockbox.

But don't we wish it was that simple?

What we have to deal with is knowledge that the Mavericks have shot a lights out, 50 percent or better from the floor in three of the last four meetings against the Spurs. Despite throwing up bricks from the arc in Saturday’s win (accounting for 29.4 percent from three range), and struggling in the last three from long distance at 30.9 percent, Dallas has managed to remain consistent from the free throw line at 85.7 percent in the last seven clashes versus the Spurs. The angle to stress is that the Mavs are 5-2 ATS in the last seven contests played in San Antonio.

But there is another team in this series. The Spurs are 7-1 ATS when avenging a home loss versus any given opponent this season. Expanding on this is San Antonio’s 20-8 SU record when rebounding from a SU loss the game before. This has been possible with the team working to create a point margin of 4.2 points, scoring 98.3 PPG versus giving up 94.1 PPG.

Let’s be honest, missing Manu Ginobili is huge for the Spurs. It’s a no brainer. We’re talking about a shooting guard who averaged 26.4 minutes off the bench this season, draining 15.5 PPG. But a part of his game that San Antonio misses dearly is the help on defense. And after allowing the Mavs to score a combined 212 points in the last two games (Game 1 and a regular season contest played on Mar. 4) it’s apparent that any aid on ‘D’ would be much welcomed.

Some more numbers to remain serious about include San Antonio’s 21-7 record on the ‘under’ since 1996 when trailing in a playoff game and a 91-59 record on the ‘under’ in the last three years when playing against a team with a winning record. A lot of games to divulge in the latter trend but one worth noting none-the-less.

The bottom line is that San Antonio enters Game 2 with added pressure on its shoulders. There’s no way that head coach Gregg Popovich and company want to head to Dallas down 0-2.

Most books have listed the Spurs as six-point faves with a total set at 189.

And so the saga continues…

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Game of the day: Chicago Bulls at Boston Celtics
By Steve Merril

Chicago Bulls at Boston Celtics (-8, 196) – 7:05 p.m. ET (TNT)

Tale of Two Teams


The Bulls pulled the upset in Game 1 as an 8.5-point underdog. While Boston could have sealed the game if Paul Pierce could have hit some late free throws, the Bulls never trailed by more than five points the entire day.

Chicago became a better club in late February after it acquired John Salmons and Brad Miller from the Kings. The Bulls were just 4-7 in their first eleven games with the new lineup, but have since gone 13-4 in their past 17. The new blood helped offset the loss of forward Loul Deng (13.8 ppg) who was injured on February 28th and is now out for the rest of the season.

While the Bulls are improving, the Celtics have become weaker without future Hall of Fame forward Kevin Garnett in the lineup. Boston is a respectable 18-8 in all games without Garnett this season, compared to 44-13 with him in the lineup, but it only wins by an average of +3.4 points per game without the Big Ticket, compared to a +9.1 point average margin of victory with him. The difference is on defense where Boston has permitted only 90.8 points per game with KG, compared to 99.8 ppg without him.

Offensive Minded

While Boston’s defense has been weaker without Kevin Garnett, the Celtics’ offense has actually been stronger, averaging 103.2 points per game, compared to just 99.9 points per game with Garnett in the lineup.  The Celtics have played a more up-tempo style with the smaller lineup, while their interior defense has suffered.

Chicago has also shown better offensive numbers during the past two months since the big trade with the Kings. The Bulls have scored at least 101 points or more in 13 of their past 16 games.

Chicago’s offense has also improved as rookie point guard Derrick Rose continues to blossom into a superstar. Rose tied a NBA record for a playoff debut with 36 points on Saturday in Game 1 and he also had 11 assists. The key to Game 2 will be if the Celtics can make the appropriate adjustments to contain Rose.

“You know, the guy (Rose) is powerful, so even when Rondo can slide and beat him to the spot, Rose is still powerful enough to blow through him,” said Boston head coach Doc Rivers. “And I don’t think we supported Rondo enough. Rondo can’t reach as much, but we have to support more. I thought we did both wrong.”

Rondo agreed and commented, “I probably gambled less (Saturday), but I shouldn’t have gambled at all,” the point guard said.  “I don’t need to reach as much. I just have to try to keep the ball in front of me and make him take contested 2’s, the elbow shot. He made a couple (Saturday), but if he makes those, then my hat’s off to him. But as a team I think we just need to make him see five (Celtic) guys on the floor.”

Head-to-Head

Boston dominated the first two meetings this season with easy wins (96-80 and 126-108), but Chicago has won both meetings with its current lineup. There’s nothing misleading about either victory. Chicago held a 12 and 11 point lead in each win and outshot the Celtics 53 to 49 percent in March’s game and then 43 to 39 percent on Saturday.

Game 1 would have finished under the total (199) had it not gone to overtime. The pace of play was actually faster than the score indicated with both teams shooting well below their expected percentages from the field and were a combined 7-for-33 (21 percent) from 3-point range.

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Re: NBA News and Notes Monday 4/20

NBA Today

SCOREBOARD

Monday, April 20

Chicago at Boston (7 p.m. EDT). Chicago beat defending champion Boston 105-103 in overtime Saturday in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference series.

STARS

Sunday

— Chauncey Billups, Nuggets, scored 36 points and made a career-best eight 3-pointers in Denver’s 113-84 romp of New Orleans.

— Andre Iguodala, 76ers, made a 22-foot jumper with 2.2 seconds remaining and Philadelphia rallied from an 18-point deficit to beat Orlando 100-98 in Game 1 of their first-round playoff series. Iguodala had 20 points, eight rebounds and eight assists.

— Kobe Bryant, Lakers, scored 24 points and top-seeded Los Angeles coasted to a 113-100 victory in Game 1 against Utah.

— Josh Smith, Hawks, scored 23 points and threw down several rim-rattling dunks in Atlanta’s 90-64 victory against Miami.

STINGY

Dwyane Wade scored 19 points—11 below his NBA-leading average—and only one other Miami player reached double figures as the Atlanta Hawks tied a franchise record for fewest points allowed in a playoff game in their 90-64 win in Game 1.

ROAD WINS

The Philadelphia 76ers rallied from 18 points down to win 100-98 at Orlando and take a 1-0 lead in the series. The Sixers were the fourth road team to win Game 1 in the first two days of the playoffs, joining Dallas, Chicago and Houston.

START TO FINISH

Phil Jackson’s teams are 41-0 in playoff series after winning Game 1. That doesn’t bode well for Utah, which was beaten 113-100 by Jackson’s Los Angeles Lakers in the first game of their best-of-seven series.

ROMP

Capitalizing on their first home-court edge in a playoff series in 21 years, the Denver Nuggets nearly bested their previous biggest margin of victory in the postseason, a 30-point victory against San Antonio back in 1985, in a 113-84 victory against New Orleans.

SPEAKING

“We won one more game than people thought we would win,” said Philadelphia’s Andre Iguodala, who scored 20 points and made the game-winning shot with 2.2 seconds left as the 76ers beat Orlando 100-98 in Game 1.

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Re: NBA News and Notes Monday 4/20

CHICAGO (42 - 41) at BOSTON (62 - 21)
Top Trends for this game.
CHICAGO is 12-24 ATS (-14.4 Units) against Atlantic division opponents over the last 2 seasons.
CHICAGO is 7-21 ATS (-16.1 Units) off an upset win as an underdog over the last 2 seasons.
BOSTON is 110-80 ATS (+22.0 Units) in all games over the last 2 seasons.
BOSTON is 85-68 ATS (+10.2 Units) as a favorite over the last 2 seasons.
BOSTON is 55-41 ATS (+9.9 Units) in home games over the last 2 seasons.
BOSTON is 31-13 ATS (+16.7 Units) revenging a home loss vs opponent over the last 3 seasons.
BOSTON is 55-40 ATS (+11.0 Units) when playing against a team with a winning record over the last 2 seasons.
BOSTON is 56-36 ATS (+16.4 Units) versus poor defensive teams - allowing 99+ points/game over the last 2 seasons.
CHICAGO is 13-3 ATS (+9.7 Units) when playing against a team with a winning record - 2nd half of the season this season.
CHICAGO is 19-10 ATS (+8.0 Units) versus good offensive teams - scoring 99+ points/game this season.
BOSTON is 55-81 ATS (-34.1 Units) after 3 or more consecutive overs since 1996.
BOSTON is 60-87 ATS (-35.7 Units) in home games after allowing 105 points or more since 1996.

Head-to-Head Series History
BOSTON is 7-4 against the spread versus CHICAGO over the last 3 seasons
BOSTON is 6-5 straight up against CHICAGO over the last 3 seasons
5 of 10 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons


DALLAS (51 - 32) at SAN ANTONIO (54 - 29)
There are no Top Trends with records of significance that apply to this game.

Head-to-Head Series History
DALLAS is 8-5 against the spread versus SAN ANTONIO over the last 3 seasons
DALLAS is 7-6 straight up against SAN ANTONIO over the last 3 seasons
7 of 13 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons 

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CHICAGO vs. BOSTON
Chicago is 5-2 ATS in its last 7 games on the road
Chicago is 4-2 SU in its last 6 games on the road
Boston is 8-2 SU in its last 10 games
The total has gone OVER in 7 of Boston's last 8 games

DALLAS vs. SAN ANTONIO
Dallas is 5-2 ATS in its last 7 games
Dallas is 6-1 SU in its last 7 games
San Antonio is 2-10 ATS in its last 12 games when playing at home against Dallas
The total has gone UNDER in 5 of San Antonio's last 7 games when playing at home against Dallas

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First Round, NBA Playoffs

Chicago rookie Rose scored 36 points in OT win in Game 1, tying record for most points scored in first playoff game. Bulls are 6-2-1 vs spread in last nine games as underdog. Allen/Pierce combined to go 9-33 from the floor in Game 1. Chicago played only eight guys; Noah had 17 rebounds for Bulls, who were +8 on boards and blocked nine Boston shots.

Dallas won eight of its last ten games; its bench was 17-31 from the floor in Game 1 win at Alamo; Mavs shot 53.8% from floor, didn't have shot blocked by Spurs, who are 4-12 vs spread in last 16 games as a favorite. San Antonio made 11-14 from arc in Game 1 and still lost. Dallas sub G Barea was +17 in his 26:03 of playing time; younger legs prevailing?

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Re: NBA News and Notes Monday 4/20

Tips and Trends

Chicago Bulls at Boston Celtics


Bulls: In his playoff debut, Derrick Rose had 36 points and 11 assists in a 105-103 OT win at Boston. "I was just doing anything I could to win that game," Rose said. "There's a lot of basketball to be played, and we're going to have to keep raising our level," Chicago coach Vinny Del Negro said. But Rose "has got an air of confidence about him. He knows what he can do. He prepares well." Del Negro went on to say, "We're going to mix it up on Pierce and Allen. Obviously, Rondo hurt us a lot, so we have to make some adjustments there."

The Bulls are 13-3-1 ATS in their last 17 games vs. a team with a winning record.
The Bulls are 7-2 ATS in their last 9 games as an underdog.
   
Key Injuries - F Luol Deng (leg) is DOUBTFUL.

PROJECTED SCORE: 96 (Side Play of the Day)


Celtics (-8, O/U 196.5): The Celtics know what they must do better on defense after losing Game 1 - hurry back against the speedy Bulls, communicate, stop the pick-and-roll and get the ball out of Derrick Rose's hands as soon as possible. The Celtics still had a chance to win on a day when sharpshooter Ray Allen missed 11 of his 12 shots. "We're a better defensive team" than they showed in Game 1, coach Doc Rivers said. "We're going to win because of our defense and, if we get more stops, Ray will get more shots and he'll get more shots in rhythm" since the Bulls will have less time to set up their defense.

The Over is 21-6 in the Celtics' last 27 home games.
The Over is 7-1 in the Celtics' last 8 overall.

Key Injuries - F Kevin Garnett (knee) is DOUBTFUL.

PROJECTED SCORE: 100

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