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NBA News and Notes Tuesday 5/5

NBA News and Notes Tuesday 5/5

Game of the day: Hawks at Cavaliers
By The Prez

Atlanta Hawks at Cleveland Cavaliers (-11.5, 179)

Season series


The Cavs took three of four in the regular season, but this series could have easily been 2-2 and Cleveland only covered once. Atlanta’s sole win came Dec. 13 at home, while the Hawks blew a five-point lead in the final 1:42 to lose the March 1 game in Atlanta by a point. The two games in Cleveland weren’t real close with the Cavs leading by at least 24 in both. Three of the four games went over the total.

Overall, Atlanta has just two wins in the past 10 meetings with Cleveland. The Cavs, of course, lost just once at full strength at home this season and have covered their past eight games overall.

How they got here

Cleveland had no trouble in the first round, sweeping the Pistons. The Cavs became the third team in NBA history to sweep a best-of-seven playoff series while winning each game by a double-digit margin.

The Cavs will have had eight days off by the time they take the floor tonight. And the team pushed its normal afternoon practice to the evening on Sunday to get used to prime time action.

“Our guys are antsy,” Cleveland coach Mike Brown said to reporters. “It will be good for those guys to go out and compete against someone else.”

Atlanta, meanwhile, played in arguably the least competitive seven-game playoff series in NBA history. Sure the Hawks’ matchup with Miami went seven games, but every game was decided by double digits, just the second time that has happened in a full seven-game series in NBA postseason history. In addition, there we no lead changes in any game after the first quarter.

Atlanta did at least end its 12-year playoff losing streak on the road by taking Game 4 in Miami. The Hawks advanced to the second round for the first time since 1999 and won a Game 7 for the first time since 1961.

Say it’s so, Joe

Did the real Joe Johnson show up in Game 7 for Atlanta? The All-Star guard had struggled against the Heat, being held under 20 points in five of the first six games and shooting just 39.1 percent as he was thoroughly outplayed by Dwyane Wade.

But in Game 7, after starting 0-for-5, he finished with 27 points, five rebounds and five steals. That was the first time in 32 years a player had at least 25 points, five-or-more rebounds and five-or-more steals in a Game 7.

“I think Joe survived this series,” Hawks coach Mike Woodson said. “And he couldn’t have had a better game in grand style, on national TV in front of his fans winning Game 7. That’s huge.”

Johnson struggled against Cleveland during the regular season, averaging just 16.5 points.

Mike Bibby was Atlanta’s best player in Round 1, averaging 14.9 points (50 percent on 3-pointers) and leading the team in scoring four times, to go with 31 assists. He had struggled in the opening playoff series with the Celtics last year.

Injuries

The Hawks played Games 3, 4, 5 and 7 of the Miami series without small forward Marvin Williams, who has a wrist injury. He tried to play in Game 6 and managed just five minutes. He would get the main call defensively on LeBron James and did do reasonably well in that role against him during the regular season. He’s a game-time call for Tuesday.

Atlanta center Al Horford missed Game 6 against the Heat due to a sprained ankle, but was back in the starting lineup Sunday and played 32 minutes. He managed just seven points and three rebounds.

The Hawks’ bench was one of the worst in the league this season, but Zaza Pachulia stepped up in Round 1, averaging 7.6 points and 7.1 rebounds in nearly 24 minutes per game. Mo Evans started for Williams, but he’s mostly an energy guy. Flip Murray is really the only other regular bench player for Atlanta.

As you would expect with all that time off, the Cavs are pretty healthy. Ben Wallace still has patella tendinitis in his knee, but he had shockwave therapy during the break. That procedure is very helpful but also painful and can cause several days of downtime. That wasn’t an issue with all the time off, and Wallace is practicing again.

A few numbers

James was named MVP for the first time in his career on Monday. Since the 2000-01 season, only one regular-season MVP, the Spurs’ Tim Duncan in 2002-03, has led his team to the NBA title in the same year.

LeBron averaged 26.9 points, 6.5 rebounds and 8.3 assists against the Hawks during the regular season, while Mo Williams averaged 23.3. Ilgauskas missed one Atlanta game but was excellent in the three he did play, averaging 16.7 points and shooting nearly 63 percent from the field.

Atlanta’s Josh Smith averaged just 9.7 points and 6.3 rebounds in the regular season against Cleveland. In the first round of the playoffs, Smith’s numbers were 16.3 points and 8.9 rebounds.

The Hawks are 5-2 ATS in the last seven meetings in Cleveland.

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NBA Today

SCOREBOARD


Tuesday, May 5

Atlanta at Cleveland (8 p.m. EDT). Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinal, featuring LeBron James and the Cavaliers, with the NBA’s best record and coming off a sweep of Detroit. Atlanta needed seven games to eliminate Miami in the first round.

STARS

Monday

— Dwight Howard, Magic, returned from a one-game suspension with 16 points and 22 rebounds and Orlando held off late-charging Boston 95-90 in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.

— Rashard Lewis, Magic, had 18 points, seven rebounds and three steals for the Magic.

— Yao Ming, Rockets, who briefly left with a knee injury in the closing minutes, had 28 points and 10 rebounds to lead Houston to a physical 100-92 victory over the Los Angeles Lakers in Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals.

— Ron Artest and Aaron Brooks, Rockets. Artest added 21 points and Brooks had 19 for the Rockets, who are in the second round for the first time since 1997.

LEBRON THE MVP

An MVP vote some expected to be close was another slam dunk by Cavaliers star LeBron James. He received 109 of a possible 121 first-place votes to easily outdistance Kobe Bryant. James totaled 1,172 points in balloting by media members in the U.S. and Canada. It’s his first MVP.

STRONG IN DEFEAT

Kobe Bryant scored 32 points against Houston, doing his best to keep the Lakers in the game despite missing practice on Sunday with a sore throat. He scored 22 of the Lakers’ final 42 points … Paul Pierce scored 16 of his 23 points in the second half and Rajon Rondo had 14 points, 10 rebounds and eight assists for Boston in its 95-90 loss to Orlando in Game 1.

SWING

Both NBA finalists from 2008 lost their second-round openers at home, Boston to Orlando and Los Angeles to Houston … Orlando grabbed a 28-point lead, 65-37, in the third quarter, then saw it dwindle to three before holding on to beat the Celtics 95-90 … The Celtics did not go to the free throw line in the first half, but Rajon Rondo shot 12 free throws in the third quarter.

FINED

Nuggets forward Kenyon Martin was fined $25,000 by the NBA for knocking Mavericks forward Dirk Nowitzki to the court in the opener of their second-round playoff series. Martin was also assessed a flagrant foul 1 for the contact in the first quarter of Sunday’s game, after Nowitzki had scored Dallas’ first 10 points on 5-for-5 shooting.

BLOODIED

Houston forward Shane Battier needed four stitches to close a gash over his left eye late in the first quarter of a 100-92 win at Los Angeles. He returned and finished with six points. He was hit when Los Angeles’ Sasha Vujacic swatted a loose ball out to Kobe Bryant. The force of the impact knocked Battier to the ground. Workers spent a few minutes wiping blood off the court.

SPEAKING

“I’m 24 years old and I’m receiving this award, I never thought it would happen this fast. I never dreamed about being MVP, but if I said I didn’t enjoy this award I’d be lying. Hard work pays off and dreams do come true.”— Cavaliers star LeBron James after being voted the NBA’s most valuable player.

“The last 16 minutes was a debacle. We were sort of trying to run out the clock, and you can’t do that in games like this. Especially in the playoffs, teams are going to keep fighting and keep coming back. (But) how about the fact that we were up 28? You play these games to win, and that’s it. We won. Right now, the series is 1-0.”—Magic coach Stan Van Gundy after a 95-90 victory at Boston.

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Atlanta Hawks vs. Cleveland Cavaliers

The Hawks defeated Miami 91-78 as a 5.5-point favorite in Game 7 of their first-round set on Sunday. The combined score fell UNDER the posted over/under total (181).

Joe Johnson scored 27 points for Atlanta, and Josh Smith added 21 points in the win.

The Cavaliers defeated Detroit 99-78 as a 9-point favorite in Game 4 of their first-round series to sweep that set. The combined score fell UNDER the posted over/under total (179).

LeBron James scored 36 points to go along with 13 rebounds and eight assists for Cleveland in that victory, and Mo Williams added 24 points on the day.

Team records:
Atlanta: 47-35 SU, 43-37-2 ATS
Cleveland: 66-16 SU, 49-33 ATS

Atlanta most recently:
When playing on Tuesday are 4-6
Before playing Cleveland are 6-4
After playing Miami are 4-6
After a win are 4-6

Cleveland most recently:
When playing on Tuesday are 7-3
Before playing Atlanta are 6-4
After playing Detroit are 9-1
After a win are 8-2

A few trends to consider:
The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Atlanta's last 5 games on the road
The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Atlanta's last 5 games
The total has gone OVER in 4 of Atlanta's last 5 games when playing Cleveland
The total has gone OVER in 4 of Atlanta's last 5 games when playing on the road against Cleveland
Cleveland is 5-0 ATS in its last 5 games
Cleveland is 18-1 SU in its last 19 games at home
Cleveland is 9-1 SU in its last 10 games
Cleveland is 5-1 ATS in its last 6 games at home

Next up:
Atlanta at Cleveland, Thursday, May 7


Dallas Mavericks vs. Denver Nuggets

The Nuggets defeated the Mavericks 109-95 as a 7-point home favorite in Game 1 on Sunday. The combined score fell UNDER the posted over/under total (208.5).

Nene Hilario scored 24 points for Denver, and Carmelo Anthony added 23 points in the win.

Dirk Nowitzki led the Mavericks with 28 points and 10 rebounds, while Jason Kidd and Josh Howard each scored 15 points.

Team records:
Dallas: 50-32 SU, 40-42 ATS
Denver: 54-28 SU, 45-36-1 ATS

Dallas most recently:
When playing on Tuesday are 6-4
Before playing Denver are 8-2
After playing Denver are 6-4
After a loss are 8-2

Denver most recently:
When playing on Tuesday are 5-5
Before playing Dallas are 6-4
After playing Dallas are 7-3
After a win are 7-3

A few trends to consider:
The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Dallas's last 5 games when playing Denver
Dallas is 6-2 SU in its last 8 games
Dallas is 5-2 ATS in its last 7 games
The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Dallas's last 6 games when playing on the road against Denver
Denver is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games at home
Denver is 5-0 ATS in its last 5 games at home
Denver is 5-0 ATS in its last 5 games
Denver is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games when playing Dallas

Next up:
Denver at Dallas, Saturday, May 9

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ATLANTA (51 - 38) at CLEVELAND (70 - 16)
Top Trends for this game.
ATLANTA is 38-60 ATS (-28.0 Units) in road games versus good defensive teams - allowing <=91 points/game since 1996.
CLEVELAND is 53-33 ATS (+16.7 Units) in all games this season.
CLEVELAND is 47-27 ATS (+17.3 Units) as a favorite this season.
CLEVELAND is 29-14 ATS (+13.6 Units) in home games this season.
CLEVELAND is 29-14 ATS (+13.6 Units) after 3 or more consecutive unders over the last 3 seasons.
CLEVELAND is 28-16 ATS (+10.4 Units) after a win by 10 points or more this season.
ATLANTA is 48-39 ATS (+5.1 Units) in all games this season.
ATLANTA is 13-5 ATS (+7.5 Units) against Central division opponents this season.

Head-to-Head Series History
ATLANTA is 6-5 against the spread versus CLEVELAND over the last 3 seasons
CLEVELAND is 8-3 straight up against ATLANTA over the last 3 seasons
7 of 11 games in this series have gone OVER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons


DALLAS (54 - 34) at DENVER (59 - 29)
Top Trends for this game.
DENVER is 51-36 ATS (+11.4 Units) in all games this season.
DENVER is 35-23 ATS (+9.7 Units) as a favorite this season.
DENVER is 9-1 ATS (+7.9 Units) as a home favorite of 6.5 to 9 points this season.
DENVER is 27-17 ATS (+8.3 Units) in home games this season.
DENVER is 27-18 ATS (+7.2 Units) after scoring 105 points or more this season.
DENVER is 17-6 ATS (+10.4 Units) when playing against a team with a winning record - 2nd half of the season this season.
DENVER is 26-17 ATS (+7.3 Units) versus poor defensive teams - allowing 99+ points/game this season.
DALLAS is 216-173 ATS (+25.7 Units) as an underdog since 1996.
DALLAS is 115-85 ATS (+21.5 Units) in road games revenging a loss vs opponent since 1996.
DALLAS is 15-7 ATS (+7.3 Units) after allowing 105 points or more this season.

Head-to-Head Series History
DENVER is 9-3 against the spread versus DALLAS over the last 3 seasons
DENVER is 8-4 straight up against DALLAS over the last 3 seasons
8 of 12 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons 

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ATLANTA vs. CLEVELAND
Atlanta is 5-2 ATS in its last 7 games when playing on the road against Cleveland
Atlanta is 1-5 SU in its last 6 games when playing on the road against Cleveland
Cleveland is 2-5 ATS in its last 7 games when playing Atlanta
Cleveland is 17-4 SU in its last 21 games when playing Atlanta

DALLAS vs. DENVER
Dallas is 5-2 ATS in its last 7 games
Dallas is 6-2 SU in its last 8 games
Denver is 4-1 ATS in its last 5 games when playing at home against Dallas
Denver is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games when playing at home against Dallas

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NBA Playoffs

Hawks went 4-3 in Miami series, but none of the games were tense at the end, so maybe their fatigue factor isn't same as for Celtics, who got down 28 against Orlando in their Game 1 last night. Cleveland is 3-1 vs the Hawks this season, but only one of four games was decided by more than six points. Atlanta lost its two visits here this season, 110-96 and 102-96. Cavaliers have to guard against being overconfident vs tired club

Denver is 5-1 so far in playoffs, winning by 31-15-58-21 and 14 points. Nuggets are 5-0 vs Dallas this year, with three of wins by three or less points--last four games stayed under total. Mavericks lost their visits to Denver this season, 108-105/99-97/109-95. In game 1, Nuggets had 25-9 scoring edge from foul line (Den 25-36, Dal 9-13), and shot 55% from the floor, while forcing 20 Maverick turnovers.

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(4) Atlanta (4-3 SU and ATS) at (1) Cleveland (4-0 SU and ATS)

The Cavaliers, who have been resting up the past eight days after breezing through the first round, return to action at Quicken Loans Arena against the lightly rested Hawks.

Cleveland plowed through Detroit in four games, winning and covering each time, including a 99-78 series-clinching road rout as an 8½-point chalk in Game 4 on April 26. In that contest, LeBron James posted a double-double of 36 points and 13 rebounds, while adding eight assists, and Mo Williams chipped in 24 points. The Cavs are on a 22-3 SU tear (14-11 ATS), dating to March 7.

The Cavaliers won all four games against Detroit by double digits, averaging 93.5 ppg while allowing a suffocating 78 ppg – 13 points below the 91.4 ppg they allowed in the regular season. James leads all playoff scorers, averaging 32 ppg on 50.6 percent shooting, and the newly named MVP is also averaging 11.2 rebounds (fifth) and 7.5 assists (fourth). Mo Williams is averaging 14.8 ppg.

Atlanta needed all seven games to put away Dwyane Wade and the fifth-seeded Heat, finishing it off with Sunday’s 91-78 win as a 5½-point home chalk. Joe Johnson scored 27 points, hitting 6 of 8 from three-point range, and Josh Smith had 21 points and nine rebounds. The Hawks shot 47.8 percent from long distance in Game 7 (11 of 23) and held Miami to just 4 of 19 (21.1 percent), and they won the turnover battle decisively (19-9).

The Hawks averaged 87.2 ppg in the first round, well off their regular-season average of 98.1. In fact, despite winning the series, they were actually outscored by about a point per game, as Miami put up 88.1 ppg. Johnson led a balanced scoring attack with 17.1 ppg, and Smith averaged 16.3 points and 8.9 rebounds. All seven games against Miami were double-digit routs, with the SU winner going 7-0 ATS.

Cleveland went 3-1 SU in the season series with Atlanta, but the Hawks went 3-1 ATS, covering in the last three clashes. Their last regular-season meeting was on March 21, when the Cavs won 102-96, but the Hawks cashed as an eight-point road pup. The Hawks are 5-2 ATS on their last seven trips to Cleveland, and the underdog is on a 4-1 ATS run in this rivalry.

Cleveland is an NBA-best 41-2 SU (30-13 ATS) at home this season, while Atlanta is just 17-27 SU (22-22 ATS) on the highway.

The Cavaliers, who went a league-leading 50-32 ATS in the regular season, are on pointspread rolls of 8-0 overall, 36-16 at home, 7-0 after a SU win, 5-0 in second-round playoff games, 7-1 after three or more days of rest and 14-3 as a playoff chalk.

The Hawks have gone 12-2 ATS in their last 14 starts against Central Division foes, and they’re on an 11-5-1 ATS run playing on one day’s rest, but they carry negative pointspread streaks of 1-5 after a SU win, 1-6 as an underdog and 0-5 catching 11 points or more.

The under for Cleveland is on a bundle of runs, including 14-4 in conference semifinal games, 5-1 with the Cavs a playoff favorite and 7-2-1 at Quicken Loans Arena. Likewise, the under for Atlanta is on tears of 7-2 overall, 4-0 on the road, 9-2 against winning teams and 4-0 with the Hawks as a playoff pup.

On the flip side, the over for Atlanta is on a 20-8-1 stretch against the Central Division, and in this rivalry, the total has gone high in four of the last five clashes overall and four of the last five in Cleveland.

ATS ADVANTAGE: CLEVELAND


(6) Dallas (4-2 SU and ATS) at (2) Denver (5-1 SU, 6-0 ATS)

The red-hot Nuggets aim to take a 2-0 lead in their second-round series when they once again host the Mavericks at the Pepsi Center.

Coming off a dominating 4-1 series win over New Orleans, Denver kept rolling with Sunday’s 109-95 Game 1 victory over Dallas as a 6½-point home chalk. Point guard Chauncey Billups (six points, six assists) was kept under wraps, and leading scorer Carmelo Anthony (23 points) didn’t get going until the fourth quarter, but center Nene scored 24 points, and the Nuggets got big bench contributions from J.R. Smith (15 points, six assists), Chris Andersen (11 points, six blocks) and Anthony Carter (12 points).

The Mavericks got 28 points and 10 boards from Dirk Nowitzki, but star guard Jason Kidd (15 points) tied a playoff high with eight turnovers against just four assists, and Dallas finished with 20 turnovers to Denver’s 15. The Mavs also had 11 shots blocked, including a few during Denver’s game-clinching 15-4 fourth-quarter run that turned an 82-80 lead into a 97-84 bulge. Dallas, which held San Antonio to just 90.4 ppg in the first round, allowed Denver to post its 21st 100-point effort in its last 23 games.

The Mavs shot a respectable 48.8 percent in Game 1, but it paled in comparison to Denver’s 54.8 percent shooting effort. Also, the Nuggets enjoyed a huge advantage at the free-throw line, hitting 25 of 36 while Dallas went only 9-for-13.

Denver is 8-1 SU and ATS in its last nine meetings with Dallas, including 5-0 SU (4-1 ATS) this season. The Nuggets are 6-2 ATS in the last eight clashes at the Pepsi Center, but the underdog is still on a 6-2 ATS run in this rivalry.

Overall this season, Denver is 37-8 SU (27-17-1 ATS) at home, and Dallas is 20-25 SU (23-22 ATS) on the road.

The Nuggets have gone 19-4 SU (15-8 ATS) in their last 23 games and are on additional ATS tears of 14-4 overall, 14-3 against the Western Conference, 13-3 against winning teams, 8-1 as a favorite, 8-0 against the Southwest Division and 5-0 at home. The Mavericks are on ATS upswings of 5-2 overall, 17-6 as a playoff pup and 10-3 after a SU loss, but they are just 8-17 ATS in their last 25 starts against Northwest Division teams.

The over is on streaks of 8-4 for Denver at home (all as a chalk), 5-1 for Dallas on the road, 7-2 with the Mavs as a playoff pup and 20-9 for Dallas in second-round playoff games. However, the under is 6-2 in Denver’s last eight games overall (4-0 in the last four), and the under for Dallas is 13-5 in its last 18 contests as a ‘dog and 62-29 in its last 91 games against Northwest Division opponents.

Finally, the under is 15-6 in the last 21 meetings in this rivalry, with the last four battles in a row staying low.

ATS ADVANTAGE: DENVER and UNDER

Gametimepicks.com

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Atlanta at Cleveland

Atlanta:

14-28 ATS AWAY revenging a loss
10-22 ATS AWAY after covering 2 of their last 3

Cleveland:
7-0 ATS at home off a DD road loss
9-1 ATS after 5+ consecutive covers


Dallas at Denver

Dallas:
11-3 UNDER AWAY when the total is 200 to 209.5
18-6 Under playing with double revenge

Denver:
9-1 ATS as a home favorite of 6.5 to 9
8-1 ATS at home after 2+ consecutive unders

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Tips and Trends

Atlanta Hawks at Cleveland Cavaliers


Hawks: One day after their Game 7 victory over Miami, coach Mike Woodson gathered his players for a brief pep talk. Woodson wanted to hammer in the Hawks' minds that they must manage their emotions in a venue where Atlanta has lost 4 straight and 8 of 10. Though the Hawks were 1-3 this season against Cleveland, Joe Johnson believes his team drew confidence from ending the Cavs' 11-game winning streak 5 months ago at Philips Arena. The Hawks fell to 16-27 on the road this season after losing 2 of 3 in Miami. Along with Johnson, Josh Smith expects to draw several defensive assignments against LeBron James.

The Hawks are 1-6 ATS in their last 7 games as an underdog.

Key Injuries - NONE

PROJECTED SCORE: 81


Cavaliers (-11.5, O/U 179): The Cavaliers, who are 41-2 at home this season after sweeping Detroit in the first round, took a 6-point victory over the Hawks 2 months ago at Quicken Loans Arena. Hawks coach Mike Woodson considers LeBron James a complete package of smarts, power, finesse and speed, and that's just offensively. As a defender, James' ferocity impresses Atlanta's fifth-year head coach. James is coming off a sweep of the Pistons in which he joined Oscar Robertson as the only other NBA player to average 32 points, 11.3 rebounds and 7.5 assists in a single postseason series.

The Cavaliers are 14-3 ATS in their last 17 playoff games as a favorite.
The Under is 14-4 in the Cavaliers' last 18 Conference Semifinals games.

Key Injuries - NONE

PROJECTED SCORE: 93 (UNDER - Total Play of the Day)

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