NBA News and Notes Friday 5/22

NBA News and Notes Friday 5/22

Magic-Cavs, Game 2
By Brian Edwards

The Eastern Conference finals got off to a thrilling start Wednesday at Quicken Loans Arena. Orlando rallied from a 15-point deficit at halftime to capture a 107-106 win at Cleveland thanks to a game-winning 3-pointer from veteran forward Rashard Lewis.

Mo Williams’ potential game winner at the buzzer was on target but a just a tad long, allowing the Magic to take a 1-0 series lead. Stan Van Gundy’s squad won outright as a nine-point underdog, hooking up money-line backers with a generous return of at least plus-400 (paid $400 on $100 wagers). The 213 combined points easily eclipsed the 184-point total.

Dwight Howard was sensational with 30 points and 13 rebounds before fouling out on a terrible call in the final minute. Lewis went for 22 points and seven boards, knocking down 9-of-13 attempts from the field. Hedo Turkoglu didn’t have his best shooting night (4-of-11) but was terrific nonetheless, tallying 15 points, 14 assists and six rebounds.
   
Mickael Pietrus provided a lift off the bench with 13 points, including several crucial shots when Orlando was mounting its furious rally in the second half. Finally, Rafer Alston was very steady at the point-guard position with 11 points and eight assists compared to just one turnover.

LeBron James was magnificent in the losing effort, finishing with 49 points, eight assists, six rebounds, three blocked shots and a pair of steals. His 3-point play the hard way put the Cavs in front 106-104 with 26 seconds remaining. However, Lewis answered with his go-ahead bucket at the 15-second mark.

On the final possession, James drove to the basket before dishing out to Williams, who made the extra pass to Delonte West in the corner for the exact 3-point attempt West had buried to give Cleveland a 103-102 advantage with 44 seconds left. This time, however, West missed and the ensuing loose ball resulted in a tie-up.

With one tick left, James and Turkoglu had to jump it under the Cavs’ basket. Considering the circumstances, the Cavs got exactly what they wanted. James won the tip and left the ball perfect for Williams to catch and shoot before the horn sounded. Williams had a clean look, albeit in mid-air and fading away, and the shot was on line, but he left it just a bit long as previously mentioned.

The victory was Orlando’s third over the Cavs in four head-to-head meetings this season.

For Game 2, Las Vegas Sports Consultants opened Cleveland (74-16 straight up, 57-32-1 against the spread) as a 9 ½-point favorite with a total of 188 ½. As of late Thursday afternoon, most books had the Cavs at nine with the total adjusted to 188. Orlando (67-28 SU, 55-39-1 ATS) is plus-400 on the money line.

Mike Brown’s team is going to have to make a number of defensive adjustments. In fact, gamblers shouldn’t be surprised of Zydrunas Ilgauskas sees his minutes reduced drastically in the rest of this series. Ilgauskas is an excellent post-up player offensively, but he is entirely too slow to keep up with Howard at the other end.

In addition, Lewis is too quick off the dribble for Anderson Varejao. Brown might have to use James to guard Lewis or Turkoglu, an option he doesn’t want to fall back to because he wants James to save his energy for the offensive end and continue to play great defense when leaving his man to help.

The main adjustments for the Cavs have to come at the defensive end, but they need Williams to step up offensively so that James has a No. 2 scoring option to lean on. In Game 1, Williams had 17 points but was a mediocre 6-for-19 from the floor. Varejao had 14 points and Ilgauskas finished with 10 points and 10 boards.

The ‘under’ has been a steady money maker for the Cavs all year long, cashing at a 51-39-1 overall clip. They have watched the ‘under’ go 26-19-1 in their home games.

The ‘under’ is 55-41 overall for the Magic but it has been much less prevalent in its road assignments, going 25-24. The ‘under’ has cashed in four of Orlando’s last five games regardless of venue.

TNT will provide television coverage Friday night at 8:35 p.m. Eastern.

**B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**

--James is averaging an NBA-best 34.7 points per game in the playoffs to date. Howard is averaging a league-best 16.3 rebounds per contest.

--The Magic are 11-1 ATS in its last 12 head-to-head meetings with the Cavs.

--Cleveland was on an 11-0-1 ATS run before failing to cover the number in Game 1.

--The totals have been a wash (2-2) in the four head-to-head meetings between these Eastern Conference adversaries this year.

--After starting and playing major minutes for most of the Boston series, J.J. Redick took a DNP – CD in Game 1. That’s a did not play due to coach’s decision. Courtney Lee, who is still wearing a mask to protect his fractured sinus, was back in the starting lineup. The rookie out of Western Kentucky finished with just four points, but he had a nice dunk over James just one possession after LeBron had a nasty swat on Howard. If there was ever going to be a play where we could see Lee pulling up out of fear for his injury, that would’ve been the play with James coming at him full speed. There was no hesitation whatsoever. In fact, Lee gave James a brief stare-down after the flush.

--According to LVSC, Cleveland remains the ‘chalk’ for the adjusted series price at minus-280. The Magic are plus-220 on the comeback (risk $100 to win $220).

--I’m trying to get the whole Twitter concept figured out. I guess opening an account and posting my first update is a start. You can follow my “tweeting habits” at vegasbedwards. I'm not sure if I verablized that correctly. What I'm trying to say is vegasbedwards is my user name.

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Re: NBA News and Notes Friday 5/22

Game of the day: Magic at Cavaliers
By David Chan

Orlando Magic at Cleveland Cavaliers (-9, 189)

The betting line


The Cavs were listed as 8.5-point favorites in Game 1, but the zig-zag theory is in play for Game 2. We're currently looking at -9 and -9.5 across the board, holding steady since opening on Thursday morning.

The total is down a full point since opening at 189. That still represents a major jump from Game 1, in which we saw 184's and 184.5's.

The opener provided an easy payday for over backers, sailing past the posted total by a whopping 29 points.

Every dog has its day

The majority of bettors not only expected the Cavs to win Game 1, but to win it big.

It looked like the Cavs were well on their way to another double-digit romp after jumping ahead by 15 points before halftime.

But it was a tale of two halves.

The Magic absolutely dominated the Cavs in every aspect in the final 24 minutes and, thanks to some clutch shooting in the final stages, stole an improbable victory. It was only the third straight up home loss for the Cavs this season.

“It’s a big victory,” said Dwight Howard, “We kept fighting the whole game. We kept believing we could win.”

Rashard Lewis thinks his team can still play better.

“The most important thing is to play 48 minutes. We played only one half but it was the second half.”

Series dominance

The Magic have now won three of four meetings this season, beating the number in all four of those games.

That's nothing new, as Orlando owns an 11-1 ATS edge in the last 12 games in this series.

Interestingly enough, the Cavs only pointspread cover over that period came last season in Orlando, a 7-point win as 9.5-point underdogs.

The defense rests

To say the Cavs didn't bring the proper level of defensive intensity into Game 1 would be an understatement.

Did it have anything to do with their long layoff leading into this series, or was it something more?

The Magic are one team that has been able to breakthrough against this Cavs 'D'. In four meetings this season they've scored 99, 93, 116, and 107 points.

I think we can count on a much stronger defensive effort from the Cavs in Game 2. At home this season they're giving up just over 87 points per game and holding opponents to 41 percent shooting.

Mike Brown feels that his team's Game 1 loss will pay off in the long run.

“This is good for us. We didn’t expect go undefeated.”

On the mend

How healthy is LeBron James?

He was in obvious pain at the end of Game 1 and appeared to be in rough shape heading back to the locker room.

Apparently it was only cramps and LeBron himself put an end to the speculation with three simple words.

“I’m not hurt.”

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Re: NBA News and Notes Friday 5/22

NBA PLAYOFFS

EASTERN CONFERENCE

(3) Orlando (9-5 SU, 7-7 ATS) at (1) Cleveland (8-1 SU, 7-2 ATS)


The Cavaliers, coming off their first loss of the 2009 postseason, look to get back on track when they face the Magic in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference finals at Quicken Loans Arena.

Cleveland had a 15-point halftime lead Wednesday night, then gave it all away over the course of the final 48 minutes, losing 107-106 as an 8½-point home chalk after posting double-digit wins in its first eight games of the playoffs. LeBron James went off for 49 points, eight assists, six rebounds and three blocks, and everybody in the Cavs’ starting lineup scored in double figures, but they got outshot 55.1 percent to 48.9 percent.

The Cavaliers were allowing just 78.1 ppg in the playoffs prior to Wednesday, giving up no more than 85 points in sweeps of Detroit and Atlanta.

Orlando big man Dwight Howard had another double-double of 30 points and 13 rebounds, and Rashard Lewis scored 22 points, including what proved to be the game-winning 3-pointer with 14 seconds remaining. Hedo Turkoglu added 15 points and 14 assists as the Magic moved to 3-0 SU and ATS in their last three games – including two elimination contests in the conference semis against the Celtics -- while the Cavs have failed to cash in their last two games after starting the postseason 7-0 ATS.

The Magic are on an 11-1 ATS tear in this rivalry, including cashing in each of their last six games in Cleveland. This year, Orlando is 3-1 SU and 4-0 ATS against the Cavaliers. The underdog is now 9-3 ATS in the last 11 clashes, and the road team is on a 7-3 ATS roll.

Prior to Game 1, Cleveland had lost just one meaningful home game all season and the Cavs remain 43-3 SU (32-14 ATS) at Quicken Loans Arena this year, including 4-1 SU and ATS in the playoffs. Orlando is 32-17 SU (30-18-1 ATS) on the road (5-3 SU, 4-4 ATS in the postseason).

The Cavaliers are still 30-5 SU in their last 35 starts and remain on virtually nothing but positive ATS runs, including 11-2 overall, 37-15 at home, 6-1 in the Eastern Conference finals, 18-6 as a playoff chalk, 40-19 after a non-cover and 54-25-1 following a SU loss. All that noted, in addition to it spread-covering struggles against Orlando, Cleveland is 6-14 ATS in its last 20 games against Southeast Division opponents.

The Magic are on ATS upticks of 7-3 overall, 6-1 against the Central Division, 36-16-2 as an underdog, 16-6 as a road pup and 5-2 getting points in the playoffs. However, Stan Van Gundy’s squad is still just 8-12 ATS in its last 20 overall and 4-7 ATS in its last 11 on the highway.

Wednesday’s contest sailed over the posted price of 184, and the over is 4-0 in Cleveland’s last four conference finals starts. But the Cavs remain on “under” rolls of 6-2 overall (all from the favorite’s role) and 16-6-1 as a home chalk. Likewise, Orlando carries “under” streaks of 22-9 overall (4-1 in its last five), 11-5 on the road and 7-3 with the Magic catching points on the highway.

Finally, despite the Game 1 result, the total has stayed low in four of the last six Magic-Cavs meetings overall and four of the last six clashes at Quicken Loans Arena.

ATS ADVANTAGE: UNDER

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