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NBA News and Notes Monday 5/4

NBA News and Notes Monday 5/4

NBA Today

SCOREBOARD


Monday, May 4

Houston at L.A. Lakers (10:30 p.m. EDT). Kobe Bryant and the top-seeded Lakers open up their second-round series against Yao Ming, Ron Artest and the Rockets.

STARS

Sunday

— Joe Johnson, Hawks, made six 3-pointers and scored 27 points to lead Atlanta into the second round of the playoffs with a 91-78 victory over Dwyane Wade and the Miami Heat.

— Nene and Carmelo Anthony, Nuggets. Nene scored 18 of his career playoff-high 24 points in the first half and Anthony added 23 points in Denver’s 109-95 rout Dallas in the opener of their second-round series.

— Dirk Nowitzki, Mavericks, led Dallas with 28 points and 10 rebounds in the loss to Denver.

BLOCK PARTY

Denver’s Chris Andersen had six blocked shots and the Nuggets had 11 overall in a 109-95 win over Dallas in Game 1 of their series.

SWING

Atlanta got past the first round of the playoffs for the first time since 1999. The Hawks eliminated the Miami Heat in seven games, clinching the series at home 91-78 … Dallas had 20 turnovers, eight by Jason Kidd, in its 109-95 loss at Denver. Kidd turned over the ball just three times in the first round.

STATS

There were only 15 lead changes in the seven games between the Hawks and Heat—not one of them after the opening period. Every game was decided by at least 10 points … The Hawks’ 91-78 win over Miami was the first Game 7 ever played in Atlanta. As if that wasn’t unusual enough, the Hawks had not won a Game 7 since 1961—when the franchise was still in St. Louis … Thanks to their stifling defense, the Nuggets outscored the Mavericks 29-4 on fast breaks, and had 36 free throws to 13 for Dallas in a 109-95 win … The Nuggets have won 14 straight at home. They are 5-0 against Dallas.

HONORED

Nuggets vice president of basketball operations Mark Warkentien was voted the NBA’s executive of the year. Warkentien was the architect of the biggest deal in the NBA this season, trading Allen Iverson and his big contract to the Detroit Pistons for Chauncey Billups. The move sparked Denver’s franchise-tying 54-win regular season and the Nuggets’ first playoff series win in 15 years.

SIDELINED

Miami’s Jermaine O’Neal, who sat out the previous contest with a concussion, played just 42 seconds of the 91-78 loss to Atlanta after being cleared by doctors before the game.

SPEAKING

“His maturity, his mental involvement now is team and not individual … I don’t know who’s given him that wisdom. Is it Chauncey (Billups)? Is it a gold medal? Is it the coaching staff? I don’t care, I think he’s doing a fantastic job.”—Nuggets coach George Karl on Carmelo Anthony.

“It feels like the monkey’s off Atlanta’s back. Not just the team’s back. The whole city.”—Hawks forward Josh Smith following the franchise’s first playoff series win since 1999.

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Re: NBA News and Notes Monday 5/4

Game of the day: Rockets at Lakers
By Steve Merril

Houston Rockets at Los Angeles Lakers (-8, 193.5)

Regular season dominance


The Lakers were a perfect 4-0 straight up in the four head-to-head meetings during the regular season and this is a bad sign for the Rockets as teams that were swept in the regular season (three or more games) are 0-25 all-time in a NBA playoff series. Los Angeles is currently -900 to win this series, while the Rockets are +700.

Odds are also available on the exact number of games with a 4-0 Lakers sweep at +400, while a 4-0 Rockets’ sweep is +5100. The most likely outcome according to the oddsmakers is a 4-1 Lakers victory which pays +180.

The first meeting occurred on November 9th and Lakers won 111-82 as a 7-point home favorite. Houston actually held a 16-point lead early in the game and trailed by only seven points entering the fourth quarter.  It was the only meeting versus the Lakers this season in which Tracy McGrady participated.

The second game was in Houston on January 13th and the Lakers won 105-100 as a 4-point road favorite. The Rockets were without Tracy McGrady and also Ron Artest. Houston actually held a nine-point lead, including a four-point edge entering the fourth quarter.

The third meeting took place on March 11th in Houston and the Lakers won outright 102-96 as a 3.5-point road underdog. Los Angeles played without both Andrew Bynum and Lamar Odom and overcame a 14-point deficit for the win. Los Angeles was weak down low and allowed the Rockets to shoot a ridiculous 71 percent from two-point range.

The final regular season meeting occurred on April 3rd and the Lakers won easily 93-81 as a 5.5-point home favorite. Los Angeles held a 13-point lead and never trailed by more than three points in the entire game.

The Lakers are 8-point favorites in Game 1 of this series with the early money coming in on Houston and dropping the line from the opening number of 8.5. There was also an early money move on the under as the total dropped from 195 down to 193.5 at most sportsbooks.

Sore Throat

Kobe Bryant is on the injury report because he missed the team’s practice on Sunday with a sore throat, but he is listed as probable and expected to play on Monday night.

“We know when it’s game time he’s going to come out and be ready to play no matter what’s going on,” teammate Shannon Brown said. "It’s definitely going to take more than a sore throat. He’s got to be missing some limbs for him not to come out there and be ready to play the game.”

Big Man Battle

The Lakers continue to work Andrew Bynum back into the lineup after the seven-foot center missed February and March due to knee surgery. Bynum played only 26 total minutes in the last three playoff games combined versus Utah, but he will likely see increased minutes versus Houston as he matches up versus Yao Ming.

Lakers head coach Phil Jackson commented on Bynum by saying, “I think he’s really revved up for this… he’s excited about it and we hope that he stays under control and remembers his principles about defense and rebounding, and the offense will just come.”

Yao Ming is pumped up also and when he was asked if he likes being considered an underdog in this series, he commented “What is an underdog?”

After it was explained to him that it meant people expected the Rockets to lose, Yao responded, “I’m used to that. Don’t worry about it. I’m used to it.”

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Re: NBA News and Notes Monday 5/4

Orlando Magic vs. Boston Celtics

The Magic scored 60 points in the first half and went on to eliminate the 76ers from the postseason with a 114-89 victory in Game 6 in the first round last time out.

The Magic won that game as 6-point underdogs, and the combined score sailed OVER the posted total of 187.

Rashard Lewis led the Magic with 29 points, seven rebounds and five assists. Rafer Alston added 19 points and nine rebounds in the win.

The Celtics held the Bulls to just 11 points in the second quarter and managed to pull out a hard-fought 109-99 victory in Game 7 of their first-round playoff series last time out.

The Celtics managed to cover the 5.5-point spread, while the combined score made it OVER the posted total of 196.

Ray Allen led the Celtics with 20 points and seven rebounds, while Paul Pierce had 20 points to go with nine rebounds in the series-clinching win.

Team records:
Orlando: 59-23 SU, 49-32-1 ATS
Boston: 62-20 SU, 43-39 ATS

Orlando most recently:
When playing on Monday are 5-5
Before playing Boston are 8-2
After playing Philadelphia are 8-2
After a win are 5-5

Boston most recently:
When playing on Monday are 6-4
Before playing Orlando are 9-1
After playing Chicago are 7-3
After a win are 6-4

A few trends to consider:
The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Orlando's last 5 games
Orlando is 4-1 SU in its last 5 games
The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Orlando's last 5 games when playing Boston
The total has gone UNDER in 8 of Orlando's last 11 games on the road
The total has gone OVER in 5 of Boston's last 5 games at home
Boston is 12-1 SU in its last 13 games at home
The total has gone OVER in 8 of Boston's last 9 games
Boston is 17-4 ATS in its last 21 games when playing at home against Orlando

Next up:
Orlando at Boston, Wednesday, May 6


Houston Rockets vs. Los Angeles Lakers

The Rockets advanced to the conference semifinals with a 92-74 victory over the Trail Blazers in Game 6 of the first round last time out.

The Rockets covered the 5.5-point spread, while the 166 points fell UNDER the posted total of 179.

Ron Artest netted a game-high 27 points for the Rockets, and Yao Ming added 17 in that win.

Kobe Bryant dropped 31 points to lead the Lakers past the Jazz 106-97 to win their conference quarterfinal series 4-1 last time out.

Los Angeles couldn't cover as 12.5-point home favorites as the teams played UNDER the 211-point total listed by oddsmakers.

Team records:
Houston: 53-29 SU, 40-41-1 ATS
Los Angeles: 65-17 SU, 42-39-1 ATS

Houston most recently:
When playing on Monday are 5-5
Before playing LA Lakers are 7-3
After playing Portland are 8-2
After a win are 5-5

Los Angeles most recently:
When playing on Monday are 8-2
Before playing Houston are 4-6
After playing Utah are 9-1
After a win are 8-2

A few trends to consider:
The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Houston's last 5 games
Houston is 9-3 SU in its last 12 games
The total has gone OVER in 4 of Houston's last 6 games on the road
The total has gone UNDER in 10 of Houston's last 15 games on the road
LA Lakers are 5-0 SU in their last 5 games at home
LA Lakers are 6-1 SU in their last 7 games
LA Lakers are 6-1 ATS in their last 7 games when playing Houston
LA Lakers are 5-1 SU in their last 6 games when playing Houston

Next up:
Houston at LA Lakers, Wednesday, May 6

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Re: NBA News and Notes Monday 5/4

HOUSTON (57 - 31) at LA LAKERS (69 - 18)
Top Trends for this game.
LA LAKERS are 101-86 ATS (+6.4 Units) in all games over the last 2 seasons.
LA LAKERS are 9-1 ATS (+7.9 Units) in home games after 3 or more consecutive unders over the last 2 seasons.
HOUSTON is 286-236 ATS (+26.4 Units) in road games since 1996.
HOUSTON is 51-38 ATS (+9.2 Units) when playing against a team with a winning record over the last 2 seasons.

Head-to-Head Series History
LA LAKERS is 8-3 against the spread versus HOUSTON over the last 3 seasons
LA LAKERS is 7-4 straight up against HOUSTON over the last 3 seasons
5 of 10 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons


ORLANDO (63 - 25) at BOSTON (66 - 23)
Top Trends for this game.
BOSTON is 113-82 ATS (+22.8 Units) in all games over the last 2 seasons.
BOSTON is 86-70 ATS (+9.0 Units) as a favorite over the last 2 seasons.
BOSTON is 56-43 ATS (+8.7 Units) in home games over the last 2 seasons.
BOSTON is 16-6 ATS (+9.4 Units) in a home game where where the total is between 185 and 189.5 points over the last 2 seasons.
BOSTON is 53-34 ATS (+15.6 Units) after a win by 10 points or more over the last 2 seasons.
BOSTON is 41-27 ATS (+11.3 Units) after scoring 105 points or more over the last 2 seasons.
BOSTON is 55-41 ATS (+9.9 Units) when playing against a team with a winning record over the last 2 seasons.
ORLANDO is 52-36 ATS (+12.4 Units) in all games this season.
ORLANDO is 13-4 ATS (+8.6 Units) as an underdog this season.
ORLANDO is 14-4 ATS (+9.6 Units) as a road underdog of 3 points or less over the last 2 seasons.
ORLANDO is 28-16 ATS (+10.4 Units) in road games this season.
ORLANDO is 46-29 ATS (+14.1 Units) after scoring 105 points or more over the last 2 seasons.
ORLANDO is 18-9 ATS (+8.1 Units) after 3 or more consecutive wins this season.
ORLANDO is 23-14 ATS (+7.6 Units) when playing against a team with a winning record this season.
ORLANDO is 23-10 ATS (+12.0 Units) versus good offensive teams - scoring 99+ points/game this season.
BOSTON is 57-82 ATS (-33.2 Units) after 3 or more consecutive overs since 1996.

Head-to-Head Series History
BOSTON is 6-5 against the spread versus ORLANDO over the last 3 seasons
ORLANDO is 7-4 straight up against BOSTON over the last 3 seasons
7 of 11 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons 

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Re: NBA News and Notes Monday 5/4

ORLANDO vs. BOSTON
Orlando is 2-4 ATS in its last 6 games when playing Boston
Orlando is 8-4 SU in its last 12 games when playing Boston
Boston is 16-5 SU in its last 21 games
The total has gone OVER in 8 of Boston's last 9 games

HOUSTON vs. LA LAKERS
Houston is 9-3 SU in its last 12 games
The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Houston's last 5 games
LA Lakers are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 games when playing at home against Houston
LA Lakers are 18-7 SU in their last 25 games when playing at home against Houston

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Re: NBA News and Notes Monday 5/4

Houston at LA Lakers

Houston:

13-29 ATS off BB ATS wins
0-4 ATS vs. Lakers

LA Lakers:
17-7 Over off DD home win
9-1 ATS at home off 3+ Unders


Orlando at Boston

Orlando:

12-4 ATS as a road underdog
15-5 ATS when the line is +3 to -3

Boston:
57-82 ATS after 3+ consecutive overs
39-63 ATS after scoring 100 points in 3 straight

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NBA Playoffs

Celtics have to be tired after tough 7-game series vs Chicago, while the Magic is well-rested, especially considering Howard didn't play in Game 6 at Philly (suspension). Orlando's Lee is out here, though, During year, Celtics won first two meetings, then Orlando won last two, with average total in four games, 176. Doc Rivers lives in Orlando during offseason. Teams split both games in each building during season.

Lakers waxed Utah in five games, winning by 13-10-14-11 points, now Rockets come to Tinseltown, off their six-game series win vs Portland. Houston lost two of its three games in Portland, was 0-4 against Lakers during season, losing 111-82/93-81 at Staples, 105-100/93-81 in Texas. You'd think Artest would be good guy to match up with Bryant, so it'll be interesting to see how that goes.

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(3) Orlando (4-2 SU, 2-4 ATS) at (2) Boston (4-3 SU, 3-3-1 ATS)

The Celtics return to the court at TD Banknorth Garden just 48 hours after their Game 7 victory over the Bulls, this time hosting the Magic in the opener of a best-of-7 Eastern Conference semifinal series.

Boston survived a wild series with the young Bulls, winning 109-99 in Game 7 on Saturday and cashing as a 5½-point favorite. The Celtics played four overtime games (seven total overtime sessions) in the first six games of the series, but jumped out to a big halftime lead on Saturday and held on for the win and cover. Boston’s bench scored 30 points, led by Eddie House’s 16 points on 4-of-4 shooting from beyond the three-point line. The Celtics also held the Bulls to 39 percent shooting in the finale and outrebounded Chicago 45-40.

Orlando needed six games to dispatch of the Sixers, clinching the series in impressive fashion with Thursday’s 114-89 victory as a 5½-point pup, as the Magic prevailed without superstar Dwight Howard, who was suspended for the game. Rashard Lewis (29 points) led six Magic players in double figures, with backup center Marcin Gortat getting 11 points and 15 rebounds. Orlando shot 53.7 percent from the floor in the deciding Game 6.

These two teams split their four-game season series, with Boston getting the cash in three of the contests. After the Celtics took the first two meetings, Orlando came back and won the final two games: 86-79 in Beantown on March 8 as a 2½-point ‘dog and 84-82 at home on March 25 as a 3½-point favorite. The home team has won eight of the last 10 in this series and covered the number in 21 of the last 30. However, Boston has gotten the cash in six of the last nine overall and 12 of the last 15 in Boston.

Orlando is on ATS slides of 3-9 overall, 2-10 against teams from the Atlantic division, 1-5 on the road and 0-5 when playing after three or more days off, Conversely, the Magic are on positive pointspread runs of 36-16-3 as underdogs, 10-3 as road ‘dogs and 43-17-1 as a ‘dog of up to 4½ points.

The Celtics are just 3-8 ATS in their last 11 on Monday, 0-5 ATS in their last five conference semifinal games, and 6-14 ATS in their last 20 at home, but they are on positive ATS streaks of 8-3 after getting one day off and 5-1 against Southeast Division teams.

The Magic stayed under the total in four of their six games against Philadelphia in the opening round while the Celtics topped the total in six of seven against the Bulls. In this rivalry, the under is 4-1 in the last five overall, but the over has been the play in seven of the last 10 in Boston.

It’s been all “unders” for the Magic lately, including 4-1 overall, 8-3 on the road, 7-3 after a spread-cover, 7-2 on Mondays and 4-1 as an underdog. Boston has stayed under the total in 21 of 30 Monday contests, but the Celtics are on a plethora of “over” streaks, including 21-8 overall, 36-16-1 at home, 36-17 against the Eastern Conference, 17-4 as a favorite, 5-0 after getting a day off and 8-2 following a straight-up win.

ATS ADVANTAGE: ORLANDO


(5) Houston (4-2 SU, 3-3 ATS) at (1) L.A. Lakers (4-1 SU, 2-3 ATS)

After winning their first playoff series in 12 years, the Rockets now travel to the Staples Center in Los Angeles to open their best-of-7 Western Conference semifinal series against the top-seeded Lakers.

Houston finished off the Trail Blazers in Game 6 on Thursday, winning 92-76 at home and cashing as a five-point chalk. The Rockets, who have won nine of 12 overall dating to the regular season (7-5 ATS), took control of their opening-round series with a dominating 108-81 Game 1 victory in Portland. In Thursday’s clincher. Ron Artest delivered a big game with 27 points while Yao Ming continued his consistent effort with a 17-point, 10-rebound performance.

Los Angeles needed just five games to beat the Jazz in the opening round, but the failed to cover big numbers in three of the final four contests. The Lakers, who have won 11 of their last 13 overall (7-6 ATS), have had a week off since eliminating the Jazz with a 107-96 home win in Game 5, narrowly missing as 12-point favorites. Kobe Bryant led the way with 31 points and got a lot of help from Lamar Odom (26 points, 15 rebounds).

The Lakers swept the four-game season series (SU and ATS) from Houston, including two easy wins inside Staples: 111-82 as a seven-point chalk on Nov. 9 and 93-81 as a 5½-point favorite on April 3. Los Angeles is 7-3 ATS in the last 10 meetings overall and 5-1 ATS in the last six played in Hollywood. Finally, the chalk has gotten the money in four of the last five series clashes.

The last time these two met in the playoffs was in 2004 when the Lakers won a first-round series 4-1 (3-2 ATS) en route to their fourth straight trip to the NBA Finals, where they lost to the Pistons in five games.

Houston is on ATS slides of 3-9 against the Pacific Division, 10-24-1 after a spread-cover and 2-6 on the road against teams with winning home records, but the Rockets are 6-2 ATS in their last eight as a playoff ‘dog of five to 10½-points. The Lakers are just 2-7 ATS in their last nine as a playoff chalk, but otherwise they are on ATS streaks of 4-1 against Southwest Division squads, 6-1 after three or more days off, 4-1 after a non-cover and 7-2-1 in conference semifinal action.

The Rockets stayed under the total in their final four games in the opening round against the Blazers, while the Lakers stayed low in their last three against the Jazz.

The Rockets have topped the total in four of their last five against Pacific Division teams and seven of their last 10 against teams with winning records, but they are on “under” runs of 4-0 overall, 4-1 on Monday, 7-3 as a road ‘dog and 9-4 on the highway against teams with winning records. The Lakers have gone over the posted mark in four of five conference semifinal games and five of six after getting three or more days off, but they are on “under” streaks of 20-9 overall, 9-4 as a home chalk, 11-3 at home against teams with a losing road record, 16-7 on Monday and 5-1 against Southwest Division teams.

ATS ADVANTAGE: L.A. LAKERS

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Tips and Trends

Houston Rockets at Los Angeles Lakers


Rockets: "The first time we played them T-Mac was hurt," Ron Artest said. "One time we played them at home I didn't play. The next time we played them in LA we just got rid of Rafer (Alston), a new team. The last time we played them in LA, that was a good game. We finally had our team, but they still got us in the fourth quarter." Coach Rick Adelman said, "You're not going to stop him (Kobe), you're not going to shut him down, but you've got to make him work. That's the advantage we have, throw both guys (Battier and Artest) at him and maybe we can wear him down a little bit."

The Rockets are 1-5 ATS in the last 6 meetings in Los Angeles.

Key Injuries - G Tracy McGrady (knee) is OUT for the season.
G Von Wafer (back) is QUESTIONABLE.

PROJECTED SCORE: 91


Lakers (-8, O/U 193.5): The top-seeded Lakers were off a week after eliminating Utah in five games. The most intriguing matchup will be Kobe Bryant against Ron Artest and Shane Battier. Bryant and Artest shoved and jawed their way through a 102-96 Lakers victory at Houston on March 11. "It wasn't much of a battle," Bryant said after scoring 37 points that night. "I kicked his (butt) tonight." Los Angeles won the season series 4-0, dominating the fourth quarter of each game. Bryant averaged 28.3 points. Andrew Bynum could see more playing time to help defend Yao Ming.

The Lakers are 2-7 ATS in their last 9 playoff games as a favorite.
The Under is 14-2-1 in LA's last 17 games following an ATS loss.

Key Injuries - G Kobe Bryant (illness) is PROBABLE.

PROJECTED SCORE: 103 (Side Play of the Day)

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