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NBA News and Notes Sunday 5/17
NBA News and Notes Sunday 5/17
Game 7: Rockets at Lakers
By Brad Young
Game 7 is without a doubt one of the best phrases in the English language. Game 7’s in sports means that two teams have battled to a stalemate in six games, and it moves to a winner-takes-all format for one glorious contest. It doesn’t matter if it’s Major League Baseball, the NHL postseason or the NBA Playoffs, Game 7’s are right up there with free beer.
Houston and Los Angeles collide in an unlikely Game 7 that many experts predicted the Lakers would storm through en route to the Western Conference Finals. Los Angeles opened as a $1200 ‘chalk’ (bet $1200 to win $100) to eliminate Houston, the decided $800 underdog (bet $100 to win $800). Some gamblers out there are anxiously clutching their tickets right now since the opening line was shifted slightly to list the Lakers as a $1100 favorite, and the Rockets as a $700 ‘dog.
Los Angeles is still a huge ‘chalk’ concerning the future odds of winning the NBA Championship, but the Lakers are no longer the overall favorite. Coach Phil Jackson’s team opened as the 5/2 ‘chalk’ to win the title this year, but is now entertaining 3/5 odds. The Cleveland Cavaliers are the new favorites to win it all with odds of ½. Houston remains the longest shot remaining, opening at a modest 15/1 before its current 50/1. The next closest team concerning future odds of winning the NBA Championship this year is the Orlando Magic, who are 10/1.
Caesars Palace installed Los Angeles as a 13-point home ‘chalk’ over Houston, with the total set at 194 ½. The total has remained unchanged since opening, while the line started at 12 ½. ABC Sports will provide coverage of Sunday’s Game 7 from Staples Center beginning at 3:30 p.m. ET.
Houston (60-34 straight up, 46-47 against the spread) forced an unlikely Game 7 by beating Los Angeles (72-21 SU, 48-45 ATS) Thursday as a nine-point home underdog, 95-80. The combined 175 points never seriously threatened the 198-point closing total, helping the ‘under’ cash the third consecutive contest in this series. The Lakers are 0-4 this postseason when scoring under 100 points.
The Rockets opened the game with a 17-1 run, and finished the last 9:36 of the contest by outscoring the Lakers, 19-11. Houston is now 2-1 SU this series without center Yao Ming, and is a surprising 5-1 versus Los Angeles without its Chinese center.
The Rockets were outrebounded by the Lakers, 45-39, but prevailed by shooting 51 percent (36-of-71) from the field and 39 percent (7-of-18) from behind the arc. Point guard Aaron Brooks paced the offense with 26 points on 8-of-13 shooting, while Luis Scola added 24 and 12 rebounds. Carl Landry was also a force off the bench with 15 and 9.
Los Angeles shot just 36 percent (30-of-84) from the field, and 22 percent (5-of-23) from 3-point land. Kobe Bryant led the charge with 32 points on 11-of-27 shooting, but Pau Gasol (14 and 11 rebounds) and Jordan Farmar (13 off the bench) were the only other Lakers to reach double digits in scoring.
Houston is 22-25 SU and 23-24 ATS on the road this season, with the ‘over’ going 24-21. The Rockets have been dropping their road endeavors by an average score of 98-97. Houston dropped Game 5 at Staples Center by 40 points, 118-78, and lost Game 2 as a 10-point ‘dog, 111-98. The Rockets did surprise the Lakers in Game 1 as a nine-point ‘dog, 100-92.
Houston has gone 5-3 in Game 7’s during its postseason history, knocking off the Phoenix Suns in a Game 7 road game in 1995 en route to its second straight NBA Championship. The Rockets’ last Game 7 was a 40-point loss to Dallas in the 2005 NBA Playoffs in a first-round series.
Los Angeles sports a 41-6 SU and 23-24 ATS home ledger, with the ‘over’ going 24-22. The Lakers have been winning their games at Staples Center by an average score of 108-98. Los Angeles owns a 12-1 SU record in Game 7 home games, and is 30-4 SU in a seven-game series when owning a 3-2 series lead.
What makes Houston’s postseason charge even more impressive it that the fifth-seeded Rockets are without their two best players. Center Yao Ming (ankle) and guard Tracy McGrady (knee) are ‘out’ for the rest of the year. The Western Conference top-seeded Lakers are reporting no players as ‘questionable’ or ‘doubtful’ for Sunday’s finale.
Re: NBA News and Notes Sunday 5/17
Orlando at Boston, Game 7
By Brian Edwards
We’ve certainly been here before – a Game 7 in the NBA Playoffs at Boston. In fact, the Celtics have hosted 20 Game 7’s, winning 17 times, including twice in last year’s playoffs and once already this season.
This time around, Orlando will try to emerge from Beantown with a victory to advance to the Eastern Conference finals. As of early Saturday night, most sports books were listing Boston (69-26 straight up, 49-45-1 against the spread) as a 2 ½-point favorite with a total of 186. Bettors can take the Magic on the money line for a plus-125 payout (risk $100 to win $125).
The defending champs had an excellent chance to close out Orlando in Game 6, but they could muster just 13 points in the final stanza. The Magic countered with 22 in the decisive fourth quarter to capture an 83-75 win as a seven-point home favorite.
After Boston’s Rajon Rondo made a floater in the lane to knot the score at 75-75 at the 3:50 mark, the Celtics didn’t score again. When Orlando’s Rashard Lewis made a pair of free throws for an 83-75 advantage with 49 seconds left, it marked the first time in the game that the Magic were ahead of the number. That’s all they needed, though, to hook up their backers with an extremely fortunate cover (as bad luck would have it, I was on the Celtics as underdogs).
The pedestrian 158 combined points obviously fell ‘under’ the 190 ½-point total. For the series, the ‘under’ is 4-2 after cashing in the last three outings.
Dwight Howard paced the winners in Game 6 with 23 points, 22 rebounds and three blocked shots. Lewis added 20 points and six boards, while Rafer Alston and Mickael Pietrus added 11 points apiece.
In the losing effort, Rondo had 19 points, 16 rebounds, six assists and four steals. Paul Pierce finished with 17 points, nine boards and five assists.
Orlando (66-28 SU, 54-39-1 ATS) has been excellent on the road this year, compiling a 30-17 SU record and a 28-18-1 ATS mark. With that said, the Magic are just 2-7 ATS in their last nine road assignments.
Stan Van Gundy’s team won Game 1 in Boston by a 95-90 count as a 1 ½-point underdog. The Celtics bounced back to win Game 2 by a 112-94 score. In Game 5, Orlando was seemingly in control all night, leading by as many as 14 in the fourth quarter before falling apart.
For the first time in these playoffs, Stephon Marbury had a positive impact in Game 5, scoring all 12 of his points in the final stanza. When Ray Allen came off a screen and buried a triple from the right wing with 1:20 remaining, the C’s had their first lead since midway through the first quarter. They held on for a 92-88 decision as two-point home favorites.
In the aftermath of the Game 5 loss, Howard ripped Van Gundy for his substitution patterns and for the fact that he had only three touches in the fourth quarter. The Game 6 victory has removed that storyline from the forefront, but you wonder if an Orlando loss could lead to a pink slip for Van Gundy.
The ‘over’ has been a lucrative money maker in Boston home games this season, cashing tickets at a 31-16-1 clip. The ‘under’ is 54-40 overall for Orlando. However, when the Magic hit the road, the ‘under’ hasn’t been as prevalent, hitting at just a 24-23 pace.
Tip-off is scheduled for 8:05 p.m. Eastern on TNT.
**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**
--In 13 postseason games, Rondo is nearly averaging a triple-double. He’s averaging 17.4 points, 10.0 rebounds and 9.8 assists per game. Rondo is also collecting 2.5 steals per contest. His assists-to-turnovers ratio is 127/37.
--Orlando’s J.J. Redick went 0-for-7 from the floor in Game 6. He is shooting at a 32.1 percent clip from the field in 10 playoff games this season.
--Orlando has split a pair of Game 7’s in franchise history. The Magic lost their only Game 7 on the road at Detroit in the first round of the 2003 playoffs.
--Boston has won 20 of its 25 Game 7’s in franchise history.
Re: NBA News and Notes Sunday 5/17
What bettors need to know: NBA on ABC
By DAVE CAREY
Houston Rockets at Los Angeles Lakers (-12.5, 194)
No place like the Staples Center
It may not have the same history as other buildings, but the venue has been a postseason stronghold for the Lakers. Los Angeles is 58-12 in the arena since moving there in the 1999-2000 season and has topped the century mark in scoring 39 times in those games, while holding opponents under triple figures 51 times.
The Lakers also are 30-4 all-time in seven-game series when they have a 3-2 lead, but are just 10-9 when losing Game 6. The Lakers’ most recent series victory when losing Game 6 was in the 2000 Western Conference Finals with a Game 7 victory over the Trail Blazers in the City of Angels.
Los Angeles also is 10-5 all-time in Game 7’s when leading the series 3-2.
One for the Brooks
Besides knowing how to sport a snazzy red bow tie, Houston guard Aaron Brooks (17.1 ppg, 3.4 apg) has put on a dribble-penetration clinic and has all but forced Lakers guard Derek Fisher into early retirement.
Houston goes as its young guard goes. Brooks averages 26.3 points per game in the team’s wins, making at least seven field goals in each, but averages a pedestrian 11.3 points per game in the loses.
The Kobe factor
The former league MVP and three-time World Champion has shown he still poses a killer instinct, but has failed to emerge as a catalyst for his team to rally around, especially on the road.
Bryant averages 28.6 points and 4.5 assists per game this postseason and is averaging a point more per game in the six games against Houston. However, the future Hall-of-Famer is averaging an assist less per game against the Rockets as he has had to work harder for his looks. He also is taking over four more shots more per game than he did against Utah to get that extra point.
Bryant also has struggled to get to the free-throw line, settling for more jumpers against the Rockets. He has attempted just 36 free throws so far in the series, compared to 39 in just five games against Utah. In a 99-87 loss in Game 4, he even failed to get to the charity stripe.
Defense wins championships
The Rockets, especially now with injuries to Tracy McGrady and Yao Ming, must rely on the likes of Chuck Hayes at center to make up for his offensive ineptitude by playing fantastic defense.
But it's worked.
Houston has held opponents below 90 points in six of its seven playoff wins. The Rockets also have held opponents to an average of 82.8 points in five home victories this postseason, including limiting Los Angeles to just 80 in a Game 6 win.
This is a big reason for the series going under the number in four of six games, including three straight.
The Lakers - a more offensive oriented team - are 0-4 this postseason when scoring 100 points or fewer, but 7-0 when they top the century mark.
Other key numbers:
- Los Angeles has won eight straight Game 7s at home
- Los Angeles has won 25 of the past 26 series when holding a chance to close-out at any point.
- Teams leading at the end of the first quarter have won all 12 of Houston’s postseason games.
- Houston has scored at least 15 points off Lakers’ turnovers in each win
Re: NBA News and Notes Sunday 5/17
Game of the day: Orlando Magic at Boston Celtics
By Alex Smart
Orlando Magic at Boston Celtics (-2.5, 186)
Just another Garden Game 7
Sure enough, the Boston Celtics continue to make things interesting with yet another playoff series reaching its pinnacle. Weren't bettors entertained enough in the Celtics' first round series with Chicago?
Believe it or not, this is what the NBA desperately needs - the anticipation, wide eyes and win-or-go-home mentality of its players, coaches and fans. With Boston preparing to host its second Game 7, the NBA can breathe a sigh of relief for at least 24 hours or until Sunday night.
Even with the defending champions as an early favorite on their home court, there's still a possibility that Orlando seizes the upset. Dwight Howard is more than capable of leading his team out of the bean and into Cleveland. Though no NBA front office member will ever admit it, the thought of a Cavs vs. Magic Eastern Conference Final is frightening.
The league needs LeBron vs. Pierce, Allen, Rondo. Hell, what the NBA truly needs is LeBron vs. Kobe, but even that match up is on the brink of impossibility.
For now, let the "what if's," fall by the wayside, and enjoy the familiar tale of a Celtics Game 7 in Boston. If the Garden plays anything like it already has in this year's post season, we're all in for a treat, regardless of who wins.
Superman that foe
After the Orlando Magic dropped Game 5 92-88 to the Celtics, Dwight Howard verbally criticized head coach, Stan Van Gundy's decision to substitute in a way that kept the dominant center from getting more touches.
ESPN blew the situation up, both sides went back and forth on the issue, and when Game 6 came around, everyone seemed complacent until tip-off. Once the game got underway, Superman went to work, dropping 23 points and collecting 22 rebounds en route to tying up the series.
Howard’s 20-20 performance was his fifth in the post season, moving him ahead of Charles Barkley and Kevin Garnett on the All-Time list for most such games since 1991.
"I just tried to be me," Howard told reporters. "I just have to go out there and play and not worry about nothing."
Out of their element
Bettors have grown accustomed to seeing Ray Allen hit big shot after big shot this postseason, but on Thursday night, Allen was as cold as the welcome he received in Orlando.
With just five points to his name in Game 6, Allen shot a forgettable 2-for-11 from the field and a shocking 0-for-7 from beyond the arc. Allen's teammates were no help either as Boston connected on just 3-of-18 shots from 3-point range (16.7 percent).
Making matters worse, the Celtics committed 28 fouls to Orlando's 15, while committing 22 overall turnovers in the contest.
"The offense definitely struggled," forward, Paul Pierce told the press. "But we still played enough defense to win the game. We turned the ball over too much."
Luckily for the Celtics, the home rims have been more forgiving. Hopefully the Boston fans are too after Thursday night's performance.
Game 7 trends
If you've played the under when the Celtics and Magic go head to head, you've been successful seven of the last 10 games. Though that number might seem safe, it's another Game 7, which means anything could happen including duel triple-digit performances.
The home team is 4-1 against the spread in the last five contests. Keep in mind, the Magic are only 2-7 against the odds in their last nine road games.
Re: NBA News and Notes Sunday 5/17
(5) Houston (7-5 SU, 6-6 ATS) at (1) L.A. Lakers (7-4 SU, 5-6 ATS)
After staving off elimination on Thursday, the Rockets now travel once again to the Staples Center in Los Angeles for a winner-take-all Game 7 against the Lakers with the victory advancing to the Western Conference finals against the Nuggets.
Since losing All-Star center Yao Ming to a broken foot in Game 3, the resilient Rockets are 2-1 SU and ATS in this series, including Thursday’s 95-80 home win, upsetting the Lakers as nine-point underdogs. Houston opened the game with a 17-1 run and never trailed, building a 27-15 lead at the end of one period. Houston, which shot 50.7 percent from the floor, was led by point guard Aaron Brooks’ 26 points, while forward Luis Scola added 24 points and 12 rebounds.
Los Angeles got 32 points from Kobe Bryant in Game 6, but the team shot just 35.7 percent from the floor. Only two other Lakers besides reached double figures in points as Los Angeles was held to its lowest point total in this postseason.
Houston has scored two playoff road wins, beating the Blazers in Game 1 of the opening round and then shocking the Lakers 100-92 in Game 1 of this series as an 8½-point underdog. However, in their last trip to Los Angeles for Game 5 on Tuesday, the Rockets got pummeled 118-78 and never threatened to cover as a 12-point road underdog. The Lakers are 5-1 SU at home in the postseason, but just 2-4 ATS.
Los Angeles is 7-3 (SU and ATS) in the 10 meetings this season with the Rockets with the favorite sitting at 7-4 ATS in the last 11 clashes. Inside Staples Center, the Lakers are on a 5-1 SU and ATS run against the Rockets. Finally, the straight-up winner has cashed in each of the last 12 head-to-head battles between these two.
Houston is on ATS slides of 2-5 following a spread-cover, 3-8 on the road against teams with a winning home record and 1-4 following a straight-up win, but Rick Adelman’s squad is 6-1-1 ATS in its last eight after getting two days off and 6-2 ATS in its last eight Sunday contests. Meanwhile, the Lakers are just 2-6 ATS in their last eight Sunday games, but otherwise they’re on ATS runs of 4-0 after a straight-up loss, 7-2 after getting two days off and 6-2 after a non-cover.
The under has been the play in four of the six clashes in this series, including the last three in a row, and six of the last eight battles between these rivals dating to the regular season have stayed low.
Houston is on several “under” runs, including 8-2 overall, 6-1 on Sundays, 5-2 as a playoff ‘dog and 11-5 on the road against teams with winning home marks. It’s also been all “unders” for the Lakers lately, including 7-2 overall, 11-5 at home, 23-9 as a favorite, 8-1-1 on Sundays, 14-2 after a straight-up loss and 13-4 at home against teams with a losing road record.
ATS ADVANTAGE: UNDER
(3) Orlando (7-5 SU, 5-7 ATS) at (2) Boston (7-6 SU, 6-6-1 ATS)
The Magic make one final trek to TD Banknorth Garden in Boston for Game 7 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series against the Celtics, with the winner headed to Cleveland take on the Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference finals.
Orlando used a suffocating defense to win Game 6 on Thursday at home, holding Boston to just 13 fourth-quarter points en route to a 83-75 victory, barely cashing as a seven-point favorite. Stan Van Gundy’s Magic shot just 36.6 percent from the floor and got outrebounded 48-42, but they executed down the stretch and forced 22 Celtics turnovers. Orlando big man Dwight Howard led the charge with 23 points and 22 rebounds while Rashard Lewis chipped in with 20 points.
Boston got 19 points and 16 rebounds from point guard Rajon Rondo on Thursday, but veteran Ray Allen was just 2-of-11 shooting for five points. Now the Celtics return to Boston where they are 17-3 SU all-time at home in Game 7s, including a 109-99 win as a 5½-point favorite to eliminate the Bulls in the opening round of these playoffs. Also, the Celtics are 32-0 in seven-game series after leading 3-2.
The Magic are 3-3 in road playoff games (2-4 ATS), including taking Game 1 from the Celtics in Boston 95-90 as a 1½-point pup. Orlando clinched its opening-round series against the Sixers on the road in Game 6, winning 114-89 as a 5½-point underdog. The Celtics are 5-2 inside the Garden this postseason (3-4 ATS), and they had to rally to beat the Magic in Game 5 in Boston, using a 17-3 run to close the game and edge Orlando 92-88 as two-point favorites.
The home team has won four of the last five in this series (SU and ATS) and the host is 25-11 ATS in the last 36 matchups between these two. Orlando has not had much luck in Boston, going 4-14 ATS in their last 18 visits. Lastly, the chalk is 4-1 ATS over the past five in this series.
The Magic are on ATS slides of 2-7 on the road, 1-4 when playing after two days off and 5-13 against Atlantic Division teams, but they are 36-17-3 in their last 56 as a ‘dog and 14-6 ATS in their last 20 when catching points on the road. Boston is on ATS slumps of 1-4-1 when getting two days off and 4-12 in conference semifinal action, but Doc Rivers’ club is on positive pointspread runs of 4-0 following a non-cover, 5-1 as a chalk of less than five points and 10-4 at home against teams with a winning road record.
The under has been the play in each of the last three meetings in this best-of-7 clash, four of the six series games and seven of the last nine between these two dating to the regular season. Orlando is also on a plethora of “under” streaks, including 21-8 overall, 10-4 on the road, 14-5 against Atlantic Division teams, 4-1 on Sunday and 6-2 as a road ‘dog. The Celtics have stayed below the total in five of their last six Sunday games and seven of their last 10 as a playoff favorite five points are less. Conversely, Boston carries “over” trends of 14-6 overall, 35-17-1 at home and 15-6 against Eastern Conference teams.
ATS ADVANTAGE: UNDER
Re: NBA News and Notes Sunday 5/17
After a breezy 118-78 victory in game-five, the Lakers seemed on their way to sewing up their Western Conference semifinal series against Rockets on Thursday. But, the undermanned, determined Rockets stunned the we-can-beat-anybody Lakers 95-80 forcing a game-seven at Staples Center Sunday.
Meanwhile, Orlando behind an inspired Dwight Howard performed a little Magic of their own defeating the Champs 83-75 setting the stage for their Winner-Take-All matchup up on TD Banknorth Garden hardwood Sunday.
As good as both Lakers (41-6 SU) and Celtics (40-8 SU) are on home court backing the homies could prove costly. Home teams have not been as dominant as expected these playoffs going 45-21 SU outscoring visitors by just 4.6 PPG (98.2 to 93.6). Even less impressive at the betting window home teams have cashed just 34-of-66 tickets this post season (34-31-1 ATS).
Lakers 23-24 ATS laying points at the Staples Center this season, 17-15-1 ATS L33 home during post season have been pegged a whopping -12 point favorite to move past Rockets.
C's a vig losing 24-24 ATS in front of the home crowd this year, 13-14 ATS it's L27 on home court in second season are -2 faves to survive against Magic.