NBA News and Notes Wednesday 5/6

NBA News and Notes Wednesday 5/6

Wednesday's Game 2 Reports
By Josh Jacobs

Breaking the seal on this conference semifinal series was an Orlando team which led by as much as 28 points in the second half. Boston pushed hard through the fourth quarter, cutting the lead down to three points with six seconds left in the game. But the Magic prevailed as slight 1 ½-point visiting underdogs.

The story line in-between top scorers, the final result and whether or not you cashed in at the window was Orlando becoming lax in all facets of the game. If you’ve seen this team play during the regular season then it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the Magic can look unstoppable and then down right pitiful all in the same game.

What will Game 2 bring to the table? Is making the Celtics a 3 ½-point home favorite the right figure in this matchup? Can certain trends, which have been financially viable, remain on course? And are we looking at a bounce back spot?
   
After Orlando finished Game 1 shooting 43.2 percent and Boston falling flat for a 38.5 percent rating from the wood, it shouldn’t come as a surprise that the ‘under’ struck gold yet again. Monday’s game was the fourth straight ‘under’ that has cashed in the last four head-to-head meetings and the fifth ‘under’ in the last six between these two teams. But the million dollar question remains, why are we seeing this totals trend continuing to rake in the bucks?

For one, books can’t seem to lower the total in any one game low enough. Monday’s showdown closed at 188 ½ while the past three other meetings during the regular season has totals set at 189, 196.5 and 191.5 respectively. In the same four games mentioned, the combined score between both clubs has averaged a low, 171.5 PPG. Staying on topic, Orlando is now 5-1 on the ‘under’ in its last six playoff appearances this year and 19-7 in its last 26 overall contests.

The next issue deals with the Magic’s Dwight Howard. While he’s a specimen of an athlete physically his leadership skills can be classified as annulled at times. Despite averaging 22.7 PPG and 16.8 RPG throughout the postseason, there seems to be something missing. When we bring up leadership, Kobe Bryant barking orders at his teammates and LeBron James hyping up the floor through action and words comes to mind. Just a personal observation

Be it as it may, Orlando is up 1-0 in this series. The problem is we must curb our enthusiasm and expectations as the Magic are a lonely, 4-12 ATS in their last 16 tip-offs in Boston. What Orlando has done differently in its last two victories at the Garden has been playing stiff defense. In a Mar. 3, regular season game up in Boston, Orlando was once again able to close down its opponent by allowing another low, 39.5 percent shooting performance from the field. Sounds familiar to Monday’s lockdown defense executed.

But is this really a surprise in the Magic’s overall strategy? Orlando held Philadelphia to scoring 88.5 PPG in round 1 and finished off the regular season allowing 94.4 PPG. The bottom line is that the Magic are now 51-38 on the ‘under’ in both the regular and post seasons. Orlando is also 37-26 on the ‘under’ after coming off a win the game before.

Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo struggled in Game 1 for the men in green, combining for 4-of-24 from the field and 1-of-9 from beyond the arc. But the most damaging of stats was allowing the Magic to capitalize from inside the paint, scoring 42 of its 95 points.

Think before approaching the window as the Celtics are just 1-7 ATS in their last eight second round games while Orlando has embarked on a 2-5 ATS slide (despite cashing in two straight) in its last seven road games. Those looking to counter the ‘under’ run can look to Boston’s 31-15 record on the ‘over’ in the last 46 home games.

Bettors had a chance to chase the 2nd half spread as Boston closed the board as a 5 ½-point favorite. The Celtics emerged on top of that bet, outscoring the Magic 54-41 in the second half. Our closing number is Boston’s 19-6 ATS record in the last 25 games versus Orlando.

Houston at L.A. Lakers (-10, 193) – 10:30 p.m. EST

It’s a little too early to start thinking about series upset, but what Game 1 proved was that Houston has a good shot at threatening the Lakers in a prolonged best of seven.

A quick snapshot of Monday’s 100-92 win had the Rockets shooting 47.9 percent from the court and 86.2 percent from the free throw line. But Houston executed its most effective game plan by forcing L.A.’s Kobe Bryant into throwing up 31 shot attempts. Granted Bryant recorded 32 points, but there’s no doubt that the pressure applied via the Rockets caused the Lakers to become a one man band. Outside of Bryant, L.A. had Trevor Ariza (10), Pau Gasol (14) and Andrew Bynum (10) donating just 34 points to the lost cause.

Putting this into perspective, the Lakers dropped 14 games during the season when Bryant took 20 or more shot attempts. There’s a serious correlation between L.A.’s No. 1 star attempting to put too much weight on his offensive production and overall losses.

We can’t overlook the Rockets’ center Yao Ming who even after walking off the court after bumping knees with Bryant returned to the court, finishing the contest off with 28 points, 10 rebounds and two blocks. But it was Ron Artest who made good on his derogatory words aimed at Bryant several days ago, scoring 21 and dishing out seven assists. Artest is averaging 16.4 PPG throughout the playoffs.

Historically speaking this was Houston’s first win versus the Lake Show since grabbing a 104-92 victory back in March of 2008 (covering as 3 ½-point favorites). Since then it’s been a horror show for the Rockets who have been outscored by a whopping 102.8 to 89.8 PPG (13 PPG margin).

But it was pay back on Monday as not only did Houston rock the window as 8 ½-point underdogs but also relayed money back to backers in the 1st and 2nd half as both 4 ½-point ‘dogs.

Books are taking on a more aggressive path for Game 2, currently listing the Lakers as 10-point favorites. A back-to-back total of 193 appears to be in support of Houston’s not so fancy offense. Take into account that the Rockets closed out the regular season scoring 98.4 PPG (17th ranked) while pulling the trigger from the field at 45.3 percent (22nd). Despite hitting triple-digit scoring figures three times in the playoffs thus far, the Rockets are still averaging just 93.6 PPG.

Are we looking at Houston applying pressure on defense and tapering down on the scoring front for its sixth ‘under’ play in a row? In support, L.A. is a scorching 20-7 on the ‘under’ when installed as the favorite and are 10-4 in the last 14 home games. Ending on a totals note, L.A. is 13-5 on the ‘under’ after coming off a SU loss.

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Re: NBA News and Notes Wednesday 5/6

NBA Today

SCOREBOARD


Wednesday, May 6

Orlando at Boston (8 p.m. EDT). The Magic won the opener at Boston 95-90 to get a jump on the defending champions in the Eastern Conference semifinal series.

STARS

Tuesday

— LeBron James(notes), Cavaliers, had 34 points and 10 rebounds to lead Cleveland to a 99-72 victory over Atlanta in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.

— Mo Williams(notes), Cavaliers, scored 21 points as Cleveland remained unbeaten in the postseason.

— Carmelo Anthony(notes), Nuggets, scored 15 of his 25 points in the fourth quarter to help Denver pull away for a 117-105 victory over Dallas.

— Nene and J.R. Smith(notes), Nuggets. Nene scored 25 and Smith added 21 as the Nuggets took a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven series.

DOUBLE-DIGIT DOMINANCE

With its 99-72 victory over Atlanta on Tuesday in Game 1 of the second round, Cleveland became the first team since the 2004 Detroit Pistons to win each of its first five playoff games by double figures. The Cavaliers swept the Pistons in the first round, averaging 93.5 points and allowing just 78 per game.

HURTING HOWARD

Dallas forward Josh Howard(notes) was sidelined after just six scoreless minutes in Game 2 because of a sprained right ankle. Howard missed 30 games in the regular season because of an injured left ankle, then sprained his right one in the first half of the opener Sunday night at Denver.

PREGAME PARTY

LeBron James was presented his MVP award by NBA commissioner David Stern before the Cavaliers’ 99-72 victory over Atlanta in Game 1 of their series. Stern’s praise of James was nearly drowned out by more than 20,000 fans chanting “M-V-P!” for the first Cavaliers player to win the award and Cleveland’s first professional athlete to be chosen best in his sport since Browns quarterback Brian Sipe was NFL MVP in 1980.

NUGGETS’ NUMBERS

The Denver Nuggets have won 15 straight games at the Pepsi Center, where they haven’t lost since March 11. It’s their longest home winning streak since a 19-gamer in 1989. … The Nuggets’ six postseason wins have come by an average of 24.8 points.

ROCKET RECOVERED

Yao Ming(notes) showed no ill effects from his knee-to-knee collision with Kobe Bryant(notes) on Monday, when he limped off the court before returning. Yao went through a full practice Tuesday, then sat with an ice pack around his right knee. He said the knee was a little sore but he was able to move around well.

SPEAKING

“It was unbelievable how sharp we were. We just picked up where we left off.”—LeBron James after Cleveland beat Atlanta 99-72 after a long layoff, its fifth straight win this postseason by double digits.

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Re: NBA News and Notes Wednesday 5/6

Orlando Magic vs. Boston Celtics

Rashard Lewis went for 18 points and seven rebounds to lead the Magic past the Celtics 95-90 in Game 1 on Monday night.

Orlando cashed as 3-point road underdogs as the game played UNDER the 189-point total listed by sportsbooks.

Mickael Pietrus dropped 17 points off the bench for the Magic, who got 16 points and 22 boards from Dwight Howard in the upset.

Paul Pierce drained 23 points for Boston, while Rajon Rondo had 14 points, 10 rebounds, and eight assists for the Celtics.

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

Orlando most recently:
When playing on Wednesday are 6-4
Before playing Boston are 8-2
After playing Boston are 8-2
After a win are 5-5

Boston most recently:
When playing on Wednesday are 4-6
Before playing Orlando are 9-1
After playing Orlando are 7-3
After a loss are 8-2

A few trends to consider:
The total has gone UNDER in 5 of Orlando's last 6 games
Orlando is 5-1 SU in its last 6 games
The total has gone UNDER in 5 of Orlando's last 6 games when playing Boston
The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Orlando's last 5 games on the road
The total has gone OVER in 9 of Boston's last 10 games at home
Boston is 12-2 SU in its last 14 games at home
The total has gone UNDER in 5 of Boston's last 6 games when playing Orlando
The total has gone OVER in 4 of Boston's last 5 games

Next up:
Boston at Orlando, Friday, May 8


Houston Rockets vs. Los Angeles Lakers

Yao Ming had 28 points and 10 rebounds to lead the Rockets over the Lakers 100-92 in Game 1 on Monday night.

Houston cashed as 8.5-point road underdogs as the game played UNDER the 197-point total listed by sportsbooks.

Ron Artest went for 21 points and seven assists for the Rockets, who got 19 points from Aaron Brooks in the upset.

Kobe Bryant dropped 32 points and grabbed eight boards for Los Angeles, while Pau Gasol added 14 points and 13 rebounds for the Lakers.

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 Wednesday are 6-4
Before playing LA Lakers are 7-3
After playing LA Lakers are 7-3
After a win are 6-4

Los Angeles most recently:
When playing on Wednesday are 4-6
Before playing Houston are 4-6
After playing Houston are 8-2
After a loss are 8-2

A few trends to consider:
The total has gone UNDER in 5 of Houston's last 5 games
Houston is 4-1 SU in its last 5 games
The total has gone UNDER in 11 of Houston's last 16 games on the road
Houston is 7-15 SU in their last 22 games when playing on the road against LA Lakers
LA Lakers are 9-1 SU in their last 10 games at home
The total has gone UNDER in 4 of the LA Lakers last 5 games
LA Lakers are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games when playing Houston
LA Lakers are 4-1 SU in their last 5 games when playing Houston

Next up:
LA Lakers at Houston, Friday, May 8

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ORLANDO (64 - 25) at BOSTON (66 - 24)
Top Trends for this game.
BOSTON is 113-83 ATS (+21.7 Units) in all games over the last 2 seasons.
BOSTON is 86-71 ATS (+7.9 Units) as a favorite over the last 2 seasons.
BOSTON is 31-14 ATS (+15.6 Units) revenging a home loss vs opponent over the last 3 seasons.
BOSTON is 55-42 ATS (+8.8 Units) when playing against a team with a winning record over the last 2 seasons.
ORLANDO is 53-36 ATS (+13.4 Units) in all games this season.
ORLANDO is 14-4 ATS (+9.6 Units) as an underdog this season.
ORLANDO is 29-16 ATS (+11.4 Units) in road games this season.
ORLANDO is 19-9 ATS (+9.1 Units) after 3 or more consecutive wins this season.
ORLANDO is 24-14 ATS (+8.6 Units) when playing against a team with a winning record this season.
ORLANDO is 24-10 ATS (+13.0 Units) versus good offensive teams - scoring 99+ points/game this season.
BOSTON is 129-165 ATS (-52.5 Units) in home games revenging a loss vs opponent since 1996.

Head-to-Head Series History
BOSTON is 6-6 against the spread versus ORLANDO over the last 3 seasons
ORLANDO is 8-4 straight up against BOSTON over the last 3 seasons
8 of 12 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons


HOUSTON (58 - 31) at LA LAKERS (69 - 19)
Top Trends for this game.
LA LAKERS are 101-87 ATS (+5.3 Units) in all games over the last 2 seasons.
HOUSTON is 287-236 ATS (+27.4 Units) in road games since 1996.
HOUSTON is 35-19 ATS (+14.1 Units) in road games after 3 or more consecutive unders since 1996.
HOUSTON is 52-38 ATS (+10.2 Units) when playing against a team with a winning record over the last 2 seasons.

Head-to-Head Series History
LA LAKERS is 8-4 against the spread versus HOUSTON over the last 3 seasons
LA LAKERS is 7-5 straight up against HOUSTON over the last 3 seasons
6 of 11 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons 

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ORLANDO vs. BOSTON
Orlando is 5-17 ATS in its last 22 games when playing on the road against Boston
Orlando is 5-17 SU in its last 22 games when playing on the road against Boston
Boston is 16-6 SU in its last 22 games
The total has gone OVER in 4 of Boston's last 5 games

HOUSTON vs. LA LAKERS
Houston is 4-1 SU in its last 5 games
The total has gone UNDER in 5 of Houston's last 5 games
LA Lakers are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games when playing Houston
LA Lakers are 4-1 SU in their last 5 games when playing Houston

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Re: NBA News and Notes Wednesday 5/6

NBA Playoffs

Orlando got up 28 on Celtics in Game 1, led 54-36 at half, then held on for dear life at end of 95-90 win in Boston; huge game here for Celtics, who were +22 in Game 1 in 26:34 with Scalabrine on floor (-27 in 21:26 he didn't play). Boston shot just 38.5% from floorl, part of reason why Howard was able to grab 22 rebounds. Redick was -7 in 29:12 for Magic who will once again be without Lee (head injuries) in this game.

Houston was 0-4 against Lakers during season, losing 111-82/93-81 at Staples, but they held Bryant to 14-31 from floor in Game 1, held LA to 40 first half points and posted 100-92 upset, with Artest +19 in 40:05, which means Lakers were +11 in 7:55 he sat out. Rockets do terrific job of forcing Bryant to take lower percentage shots, as he has done more of late in year due to painful knees. Rockets took ten more foul shots than LA did in Game 1, while Lakers were just 2-18 beyond arc.

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NBA PLAYOFFS

EASTERN CONFERENCE

(3) Orlando (5-2 SU, 3-4 ATS) at (2) Boston (4-4 SU, 3-4-1 ATS)


After stealing Game 1 in Boston, the Magic look to go up 2-0 in their best-of-7 Eastern Conference semifinal series against the Celtics when the two square off inside TD Banknorth Garden.

Orlando built an 18-point halftime lead in Game 1 on Monday, pushed it to 28 points in the second half, then held for a 95-90 upset win in Boston, cashing as a 1½-point underdog. Dwight Howard led the way for the Magic, putting in 16 points and controlling the boards with 22 rebounds. Boston got 23 points from Paul Pierce but the backcourt of Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo combined to go 4-for-24 from the field, including 1-of-9 from the three-point line.

Orlando has now won four straight (3-1 ATS) and six of its last eight (4-4 ATS) overall. The Magic have won three straight road playoff games (2-1 ATS) and they are 28-16-1 ATS on the road this season. On the opposite side, Boston has alternated wins and losses in its last six games (3-2-1 ATS) and have already lost twice in front of the home fans in the playoffs, once more than all of last year’s postseason run.

The Magic have now won three straight over the Celtics, including the last two in Boston. Orlando won the final two games of the regular season, winning 86-79 in Beantown on March 8 as a 2 ½-point ‘dog and then edged the Celtics 84-82 at home on March 25 but came up short as a 3 ½-point favorite. The home team has won eight of the last 11 in this series and covered the number in 21 of the last 31, but Boston has gotten the cash in six of the last 10 overall and 12 of the last 16 in Boston.

Orlando is on ATS slides of 3-10 against teams from the Atlantic division, 4-9 overall and 2-5 on the road, but the Magic are on ATS runs of 37-16-3 as underdogs, 10-4 as road ‘dogs and 44-17-1 as a ‘dog of up to 4 ½ points. The Celtics are 0-6 ATS in their last six conference semifinal games and 6-15 ATS in their last 21 home games, but they are on positive ATS streaks of 8-4 after getting one day off and 5-2 against Southeast Division teams.

Game 1 of this series stayed under the 188 ½-point total and in this rivalry, the under is 5-1 in the last six overall, but the over has been the play in seven of the last 11 in Boston.

It’s been all unders for the Magic lately, including 9-3 on the road, 8-3 after a spread-cover, 5-1 overall, 5-1 as ‘dogs and 6-1 on the road against teams with winning home marks. Boston is on a plethora of “over” streaks, including 21-9 overall, 36-17-1 at home, 36-18 against the Eastern Conference, 17-5 as a favorite, 5-1 after getting a day off and 11-1 following a loss.

ATS ADVANTAGE: ORLANDO


WESTERN CONFERENCE

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


Having stunned the Lakers in Game 1 of the Western Conference semifinals, the Rockets now try to make it two in a row in Game 2 of their best-of-7 series inside the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

The Rockets led virtually wire-to-wire on Monday, beating the Lakers 100-92 as an 8½-point underdog to steal home-court advantage away from Los Angeles. Yao Ming delivered 28 points and 10 rebounds and led Houston to a 47.9 percent shooting night. Ron Artest had 21 points and seven assists and speedy point guard Aaron Brooks had 19 points. The Lakers’ Kobe Bryant got 32 points, but needed 31 shots to get there, while no other teammate had more than 14 points.

Houston has won four of its last five overall and has stolen the opening game of its playoff series for the second straight time. The Rockets, winners of 10 of their last 13 overall (8-5 ATS), also went to Portland and got a 108-81 Game 1 victory as five-point pups in their opening-round series.

Despite Monday’s setback, the Lakers needed just five games (2-3 ATS) to beat the Jazz in the opening round and have won 11 of their last 14 overall (7-7 ATS).

Monday’s win was Houston’s first over Phil Jackson’s Lakers this season. Los Angeles swept the four-game regular-season series (bioth SU and ATS), including two easy wins inside Staples Center. Los Angeles is still 7-4 ATS in the last 11 meetings overall and 5-2 ATS in the last seven played in Hollywood. Finally, the chalk is 4-2 in the last six series clashes.

Houston is on ATS slides of 4-9 against the Pacific Division, 11-24-1 after a spread-cover and 3-6 on the road against teams with winning home records, but the Rockets are 7-2 ATS in their last nine as a playoff ‘dog of five to 10 ½-points. The Lakers are just 2-8 ATS in their last 10 as a playoff chalk, but otherwise they are on ATS streaks of 4-2 against Southwest Division squads, 4-2 after a non-cover and 7-3-1 in conference semifinal action.

The under has been the play in this series in the last three overall, including Monday’s total just getting in under the posted number, and five of the last eight.

The Rockets have topped the total in four of their last six against Pacific Division teams and seven of their last 11 against teams with winning records, but they are on “under” runs of 5-0 overall, 8-3 as a road ‘dog and 10-4 on the highway against teams with winning records. The Lakers have gone over the posted mark in four of six conference semifinal games but they are on “under” streaks of 12-3 at home against teams with a losing road record, 21-9 overall, 10-4 as a home chalk and 6-1 against Southwest Division teams.

ATS ADVANTAGE: UNDER

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Re: NBA News and Notes Wednesday 5/6

Tips and Trends

Houston Rockets at Los Angeles Lakers


Rockets: Yao showed no ill effects from his knee-to-knee collision with Bryant on Monday, when he limped off the court before returning. Yao went through a full practice Tuesday, then sat with an ice pack around his right knee. "It's a little bit sore. It's fine. I could move around well," he said. "We are a physical team, particularly defensively. If the rest of the games stay like Game 1, we're happy." Shane Battier said, "We've just got to make him (Kobe) take a lot of shots, make him work and try to limit the offense of the other guys. He's so great, you've got to give him different looks."

The Under is 8-3 in the Rockets' last 11 games as a road underdog.

Key Injuries - C Yao Ming (knee) is PROBABLE.
G Tracy McGrady (knee) is OUT for the season.

PROJECTED SCORE: 89


Lakers (-9.5, O/U 192.5): "The next game is extremely critical," Kobe Bryant said. "Everybody is a little edgy, pretty energetic and excited about it." Andrew Bynum says he's only 90% as he recovers from a torn MCL. His ability to pivot and jump explosively is missing, and he needs those skills to defend Yao Ming, who had 28 points and 10 rebounds in Game 1. "Yao will catch it and throw it back out and reposition in a better position," Lakers coach Phil Jackson said. "Drew has a tendency to just stand behind and play defense because of his size. That doesn't work against Yao. Defense and rebounding are the focus we really want to have."

The Under is 13-3 in LA's last 16 games off a loss.
The Lakers are 2-8 ATS in their last 10 playoff games as a favorite.

Key Injuries - NONE

PROJECTED SCORE: 103 (Side Play of the Day)

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Re: NBA News and Notes Wednesday 5/6

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+ Overs
39-63 ATS after scoring 100+ points 3 straight games

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