NBA News and Notes Thursday 4/23

NBA News and Notes Thursday 4/23

NBA Today

SCOREBOARD

Thursday, April 23

Boston at Chicago (8 p.m. EDT). The defending champion Celtics will try and regain homecourt advantage when they face the upstart Bulls with the series tied 1-1.

STARS

Wednesday

— Dwyane Wade, Heat, scored 33 points, including 13 straight to close the first half and a 3-pointer he banked in with 2 1/2 minutes left to finish off Atlanta in Miami’s 108-93 victory that evened the series 1-1.

— Courtney Lee, Magic, had a career-high 24 points to help Orlando even its series with Philadelphia with a 96-87 victory.

— Chauncey Billups, Nuggets, scored 31 points to help Denver take a 2-0 lead over New Orleans with a 108-93 win. It’s the first time the Nuggets have won the first two games of a playoff series since 1985.

SIGNING FLIP

Flip Saunders signed an $18 million, four-year contract to take over as the Wizards coach and will be introduced on Thursday. The 54-year-old coach and Washington reached an oral agreement more than a week ago. Saunders has a career record of 587-396 over 13 NBA seasons, 10 with Minnesota and three with Detroit.

FIRST-YEAR GREATNESS

Derrick Rose, who led his hometown Bulls to the playoffs and restored hope to a franchise in disarray, became the third Bulls player ever to win the league’s rookie of the year award. He joined Michael Jordan and Elton Brand. Rose led all rookies with 6.3 assists per game and was second in scoring average at 16.8.

WHEN ANIMALS ATTACK

“Spirit,” an actual hawk that flies down from the rafters during Atlanta’s pre-game introductions, decided to hang around for the start of Game 2 against the Miami Heat on Wednesday night. The bird was perched atop the scoreboard at tipoff, refusing to go to his handler. Then he swooped around the arena while the game was going on, landing on a railing in the lower deck before he settled on the top of the basket at the Hawks end of the court. When the players spotted the bird, they refused to go on. The game was halted with 8:28 remaining in the first quarter until the handler finally arrived, luring Spirit to his arm and carrying him out of the arena to cheers from the crowd—and several players.

SPEAKING

“I have always liked Lawrence as a coach and been supportive of Lawrence. I know a lot of good things he does as a coach, it’s part of it. We’ve won a certain number of games two years in a row and it’s natural we sit down, we always sit down at the end of the year and talk about players, coaches and this is part of it.”—Nets president Rod Thorn on coach Lawrence Frank’s future.

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Thursday's Tip Sheet
By Brian Edwards

Gamblers will continue to be in hoops heaven tonight with a third straight tripleheader to wager on. The Celtics nearly fell into a 0-2 hole against Chicago, only to be saved by Ray Allen’s second-half heroics Monday in Game 2. Who will take the pivotal Game 3 back at the United Center in the Windy City?

The Dallas-San Antonio series shifts to the Mavs’ home court for Game 3. Will Tony Parker and Co. pick up a second straight win, or will the Mavs remain hot at home?

If Utah is going to make its first-round series with the Lakers interesting, it will have to take care of business in Game 3 back in Salt Lake City. The Jazz will be toast if they fall into a 0-3 hole. Let’s take a closer look at all three matchups.

**Celtics at Bulls**

--Las Vegas Sports Consultants opened this game as a pick ‘em with a total of 200 ½. As of early this morning, most books had Chicago (42-42 straight up, 44-39-1 against the spread) as the 2 ½-point ‘chalk’ with the total in the 200-201 range. Bettors can pick up a plus-120 payout by backing the Celtics on the money line (risk $100 to win $120).

--Vinny Del Negro’s squad went into Beantown and stunned the East’s No. 2 seed by capturing a 105-103 win in Game 1 of this best-of-seven series. The Bulls won outright in overtime as 8 ½-point underdogs, hooking up money-line backers with a monster plus-350 payout (paid $350 on $100 wagers). Derrick Rose enjoyed his coming-out party, prompting memories of Michael Jordan’s 63-point performance at the old Boston Garden back in 1985. But this time around, the Bulls prevailed behind Rose’s 36 points and 11 assists. Ben Gordon and Tyrus Thomas added 20 and 16 points, respectively, while second-year center Joakim Noah had 11 points, 17 rebounds and three blocked shots.

--Boston (63-21 SU, 43-41 ATS) was in serious danger Monday night but Ray Allen scored 28 of his 30 points in the second half, including the game-winning 3-pointer with two ticks left to even the series at 1-1. The Celtics collected the 118-115 triumph, but Chicago covered the number as an eight-point underdog. Rajon Rondo recorded a triple-double with 19 points, 16 assists, 12 rebounds, five steals and just two turnovers. Glen “Big Baby” Davis also had 26 points and nine boards.

--Ben Gordon was absolutely sensational in the Game 2 defeat, filling it up from long range to the tune of 42 points on 14-of-24 shooting. For the series, Gordon is averaging 31.0 points per game and hasn’t committed a turnover.

--Boston forward Leon Powe (7.0 PPG, 4.9 RPG) is “out” for the rest of the playoffs after tearing a knee ligament in Game 2. With Kevin Garnett already out, the Celtics are left with just three healthy “bigs” (Davis, Kendrick Perkins and Mikki Moore).

--Chicago has played its best basketball at the United Center, compiling a 28-13 SU record and a 22-19 ATS mark.

--The ‘over’ has hit in four straight head-to-head meetings between these long-time Eastern Conference adversaries.

--The ‘over’ is on an 8-1 run in Boston’s last nine games. For the season, the C’s have watched the ‘over’ go 43-40-1 overall, but the ‘under’ has been a constant in their road games with a 26-15 ledger.

--The ‘over’ is 45-37-2 overall for the Bulls, 23-17-1 in their road games.

--Tip-off is scheduled for 8:05 p.m. Eastern on TNT.
   
**Spurs at Mavericks**

--LVSC opened Dallas (51-33 SU, 41-43 ATS) as a four-point ‘chalk’ with a total of 189. As of Wednesday night, most spots had the Mavs at 4 ½ with the total increased to 190. The Spurs are listed at around plus-170 on the money line.

--Dallas pulled a moderate upset in Game 1 at San Antonio, collecting a 105-97 victory as a four-point underdog. Bettors backing the Mavs on the money line cashed a plus-160 ticket. Josh Howard was the catalyst, scoring a team-high 25 points. The bench was also instrumental as Brandon Bass scored 14 points on 7-of-9 shooting, while Jose Barea chipped in with 13 points.

--San Antonio (55-29 SU, 41-41-2 ATS) bounced back from the Game 1 loss and pounded Dallas by a 104-85 count as a six-point favorite in Game 2. Tony Parker paced the Spurs with 38 points and eight assists, while Tim Duncan finished with 13 points, 11 rebounds, five assists and three blocked shots.

--Dallas has won six in a row at home, posting a 4-2 spread record. For the year, the Mavs are 32-9 SU but just 19-22 versus the number.

--Gregg Popovich’s squad is 26-15 SU and 23-17-1 ATS on the road this season.

--The ‘over’ is on a 10-4-1 run in the Spurs’ last 15 games, but the ‘under’ is 22-18-1 in their road assignments.

--The ‘under’ is 44-40 overall for the Mavs, but the ‘over’ has been a money maker in their home games with a 23-18 record.

--NBA-TV will have the telecast at 8:35 p.m. Eastern.

**Lakers at Jazz**

--Los Angeles (67-17 SU, 44-40 ATS) took a 2-0 series lead against Utah by virtue of Tuesday’s 119-109 win as an 11 ½-point home ‘chalk.’ The Jazz took the cash while the ‘over’ hit for the eighth straight time in this head-to-head rivalry.

--Although LVSC opened the Lakers as five-point favorites, most books had the Lakers installed as two-point favorites early this morning. The total is up to 215 after closing at 210 1/2 and 211 in Games 1 and 2, respectively.

--Utah (48-36 SU, 40-44 ATS) has lost nine of its last 11 games dating back to the regular season. The Jazz have faced the Lakers five times this year, losing by double-digit margins in all four games at L.A. On the bright side, Deron Williams and Co. won the only encounter between these squads in Salt Lake City, taking a 113-109 victory as one-point home favorites on Feb. 11.

--Utah has been a home underdog just twice this season, beating Boston outright and losing to San Antonio.

--Jerry Sloan’s team has a 33-8 SU record and a 22-19 ATS mark at home this year.

--Utah’s Mehmet Okur is “questionable” with a hamstring injury that caused him to miss the first two games at Staples Center. Okur averages 17.0 points and 7.7 rebounds per game.

--The ‘over’ is 44-39-1 overall for the Jazz, but the ‘under’ has cashed at a 23-18 rate in their home assignments.

--The 'over' is also 44-39-1 overall for the Lakers, 20-20-1 in their road games.

--TNT will provide television coverage at 10:35 p.m. Eastern.

**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**

--Miami trounced Atlanta 108-93 as a 5 ½-point underdog in Game 2 at Philips Arena last night. Dwyane Wade was the catalyst, responding from a dreadful eight-turnover outing in Game 1 to light the Hawks up for 33 points and seven assists. Daequan Cook exploded for 20 points, draining 6-of-9 attempts from 3-point land. The Heat hooked up money-line backers with a lucrative plus-180 return (paid $180 on $100 wagers).

--I can’t remember the last time I saw Joe Johnson play as poorly as he did in Atlanta’s Game 2 loss to Miami. Johnson was 5-of-13 from the field and just 5-of-9 from the free-throw line. Most notably, he had zero assists and four turnovers.

--Denver is ahead 2-0 in a playoff series for the first time since 1985. Chauncey Billups scored 31 points to lead the Nuggets to another easy win and spread cover against the Hornets last night.

--The ‘under’ is 9-1 in the last 10 Detroit-Cleveland head-to-head meetings.

--The ‘over’ has hit in six straight Portland-Houston encounters.

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Re: NBA News and Notes Thursday 4/23

Game of the day: Spurs at Mavericks Game 3
By David Chan

San Antonio Spurs at Dallas Mavericks  (-4.5, 190)

Betting the numbers


The Mavericks opened as 4-point favorites but have since been bet up to -4.5 and even -5 at some venues.

Dallas hasn't been favored by more than four points in any of its previous four home dates against the Spurs, going back to the start of last season.

The total opened at 189 before being bumped up a full point to sit at an even 190. Totals in Games 1 and 2 closed at 187.5 and 188.5 respectively. Both of those games crept over the number.

A tale of two games

It certainly appeared as if the Mavs got the Spurs attention following that 105-97 win in Game 1.

San Antonio came roaring out the gates in Game 2, leading by as many as 25 points before setting on a 105-84 victory.

After shooting better than 53 percent from the field in the opener, Dallas regressed to 40 percent shooting in Game 2. The Spurs are in excellent offensive form after shooting 47 percent and 53 percent in Games 1 and 2.

It wasn't all that surprising that the teams split the first two games of the series. They also split their four regular season meetings, with the road team winning twice. The favorite holds a 4-2 edge against the number in six matchups this season.

On the road again

The Spurs won't mind hitting the road, not after posting a 26-15 straight-up record on the trail during the regular season. They also recorded a steady 23-17-1 mark against the number in the visitor's role.

However, winning on the road in the regular season is one thing. Accomplishing that feat in the playoffs is another matter entirely.

Last year, San Antonio went 2-7 straight up and 3-6 against the spread in nine postseason road games. During their last two championship years, the Spurs were 14-6 on the road in the playoffs. In the two years surrounding, they went 4-11.

The question is, could this be a championship year for the Spurs?

Home on the range

The Mavericks finished the regular season riding a six-game home winning streak (4-2 ATS).

That didn't help them finish with their heads above water from a betting perspective. They're just 19-22 ATS as hosts this season.

In suffering back-to-back first round playoff exits, the Mavs have won three out of five games at home but only managed to cover the spread in two of those.

They are a perfect 5-0 straight-up in their last five playoff home games following a loss.

Injury watch

A minor thumb injury sustained in Monday's game won't keep Dirk Nowitzki from suiting up Thursday night.

The Spurs are still without Manu Ginobili, who is expected to be sidelined for the remainder of the playoffs.

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Re: NBA News and Notes Thursday 4/23

BOSTON (63 - 21) at CHICAGO (42 - 42)
Top Trends for this game.
BOSTON is 55-82 ATS (-35.2 Units) after 3 or more consecutive overs since 1996.
CHICAGO is 14-3 ATS (+10.7 Units) when playing against a team with a winning record - 2nd half of the season this season.
CHICAGO is 20-10 ATS (+9.0 Units) versus good offensive teams - scoring 99+ points/game this season.
BOSTON is 110-81 ATS (+20.9 Units) in all games over the last 2 seasons.
BOSTON is 24-11 ATS (+11.9 Units) as an underdog over the last 2 seasons.
BOSTON is 55-39 ATS (+12.1 Units) in road games over the last 2 seasons.
BOSTON is 37-22 ATS (+12.8 Units) in road games second half of the season over the last 3 seasons.
BOSTON is 56-37 ATS (+15.3 Units) versus poor defensive teams - allowing 99+ points/game over the last 2 seasons.
CHICAGO is 13-24 ATS (-13.4 Units) against Atlantic division opponents over the last 2 seasons.
CHICAGO is 37-51 ATS (-19.1 Units) revenging a loss vs opponent over the last 2 seasons.

Head-to-Head Series History
BOSTON is 7-5 against the spread versus CHICAGO over the last 3 seasons
BOSTON is 7-5 straight up against CHICAGO over the last 3 seasons
6 of 11 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons


SAN ANTONIO (55 - 29) at DALLAS (51 - 33)
Top Trends for this game.
DALLAS is 168-130 ATS (+25.0 Units) vs. division opponents since 1996.
SAN ANTONIO is 105-76 ATS (+21.4 Units) when playing with 2 days rest since 1996.
SAN ANTONIO is 18-6 ATS (+11.4 Units) when tied in a playoff series since 1996.
SAN ANTONIO is 223-180 ATS (+25.0 Units) when playing against a team with a winning record - 2nd half of the season since 1996.
SAN ANTONIO is 27-16 ATS (+9.4 Units) versus poor defensive teams - allowing 99+ points/game this season.

Head-to-Head Series History
DALLAS is 8-6 against the spread versus SAN ANTONIO over the last 3 seasons
DALLAS is 7-7 straight up against SAN ANTONIO over the last 3 seasons
7 of 14 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons


LA LAKERS (67 - 17) at UTAH (48 - 36)
There are no Top Trends with records of significance that apply to this game.

Head-to-Head Series History
LA LAKERS is 11-6 against the spread versus UTAH over the last 3 seasons
LA LAKERS is 13-5 straight up against UTAH over the last 3 seasons
14 of 18 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons 

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BOSTON vs. CHICAGO
Boston is 5-1 ATS in its last 6 games on the road
Boston is 16-7 SU in its last 23 games on the road
Chicago is 3-7 ATS in its last 10 games when playing Boston
Chicago is 2-7 SU in its last 9 games when playing Boston

SAN ANTONIO vs. DALLAS
San Antonio is 4-1 SU in its last 5 games on the road
The total has gone UNDER in 4 of San Antonio's last 6 games on the road
Dallas is 4-1 ATS in its last 5 games at home
Dallas is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games at home

LA LAKERS vs. UTAH
LA Lakers are 5-2 ATS in their last 7 games
LA Lakers are 9-1 SU in their last 10 games
Utah is 5-11-1 ATS in their last 17 games when playing LA Lakers
Utah is 1-6 SU in their last 7 games when playing LA Lakers

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Re: NBA News and Notes Thursday 4/23

Boston at Chicago

Boston:

24-11 ATS as an underdog
11-2 ATS off home win scoring 110+ points

Chicago:
1-11 ATS at home off BB ATS wins
21-10 Over playing with same season revenge


San Antonio at Dallas

Dallas:

3-17 ATS after 3 straight games w/ 11 or less turnovers
25-14 Under off an Over

San Antonio:
18-6 ATS when tied in a playoff series
25-12 Under Away if the total is between 180 and 189.5


LA Lakers at Utah

LA Lakers:

23-11 ATS after 3+ consecutive overs
8-1 OVER off 2 consecutive DD home wins

Utah:
6-15 ATS after BB road games
11-21 ATS revenging a loss

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NBA Playoffs

Cavaliers are 5-1 against Detroit this year- five of six series games this season went under total. Cavs covered seven of eight games. Detroit lost its last five games, is 5-11 in its last 16, 1-7 vs spread in their last eight games as a dog. James was 13-17 from foul line in Game 2; entire Piston squad was 13-16. Pistons shot just 39.5% in Game 2.

Dallas won eight of its last eleven games; they shot just 40.3% in Game 2, after shooting 53.8% in opener- Spurs blocked five shots in Game 2, after blocking none in Game 1. Nowitzki was just 3-14 in Game 2, while Parker was going nuts, scoring 28 of Spurs' first 61 points, finishing the game with 38 points, 8 assists. Keep in mind no Ginobili for Spurs.

Home side won all five Utah-Laker games this season, with Lakers 3-7 in last ten visits to Utah. Utah lost nine of last eleven games, covered three of last 14 (2-8 in last ten as underdog). LA is 9-1 in last ten games, with six of last seven going over the total- they're 6-2 against spread in its last eight games as a favorite. Lakers shot 56-60% in first two games.

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Tips and Trends

Boston Celtics at Chicago Bulls


Celtics: Although Paul Pierce is averaging 20.5 points, his shooting percentage is down from 45.7 percent in the regular season to 40 percent, and he’s deferring to teammates. “If that’s what’s going to help us win, that’s what I’ll be,” he said. “If I have to go out there and get somebody else open and set more screens and it’s going to be effective and help our ballclub win, that’s what I’m going to do. Other guys are stepping up for us. That’s what’s big for us right now.” They were already missing the biggest of their Big Three stars in Garnett when they took a few more hits in Game 2 (see "Key Injuries").

The Over is 6-1 in the Celtics' last 7 Conference Quarterfinals games.
The Celtics are 42-17 ATS in their last 59 games as a road underdog.

Key Injuries - F Kevin Garnett (knee) is DOUBTFUL.
F Leon Powe (knee) is OUT for the season.
G Rajon Rondo (ankle) is PROBABLE.

PROJECTED SCORE: 101


Bulls (-2.5, O/U 200.5): So far the Bulls are sticking with the Celtics. “I think what’s making these games so exciting is they’re won or lost on one or two possessions,” Chicago’s Joakim Noah said. “The shots that are being made are off rebounds.” A 50-36 rebounding edge and 32-12 disparity in second-chance points for Boston rattled the Bulls. They were particularly peeved about the 21-8 edge in offensive rebounds. Chicago got beat underneath and on the perimeter. Noah attributed that to “dribble penetration, their physicality, lucky bounces — a lot of things.”

The Under is 5-1 in the last 6 meetings in Chicago.
The Bulls are 13-3 ATS in their last 16 games following a SU loss.

Key Injuries - F Luol Deng (leg) is DOUBTFUL.

PROJECTED SCORE: 104 (OVER - Total Play of the Day)

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