Game 3 News and Notes

Game 3 News and Notes

Game 3, Lakers at Magic
By Chris David

By now you probably have watched the Game 2 replay of Orlando’s Courtney Lee missed layup attempt numerous times. The bucket would’ve given the Magic a 90-88 victory and knot the NBA Finals at 1-1. Instead, the second installment went an extra five minutes and the Lakers captured a 101-96 decision in a game they tried to give away in every aspect.

While Lee’s potential game-winning bucket on television looked like an easy bunny, other angles showed that it was a tough shot, especially with the Lakers’ Pau Gasol defending the rim. Some pundits believe that Gasol goaltended on the play, sticking his hand through the rim. According to the NBA rules, a goaltending call cannot be made unless contacting the rim has a clear effect on the shot.

VegasInsider.com handicapper and host of the VI Power Hours Brian Edwards pointed out in his Game 2 Rewind that Lee’s first game-winning shot with 9.1 ticks left was an easier look and the rookie out of Western Kentucky should take more heat for that miss.

Regardless of Lee’s misses, the Magic still had the extra session to show they belonged on this stage and unfortunately they succumbed to Purple and Gold. The Lakers outscored the Magic 13-8, and nine of the points came from the free throw line. Gasol led the charge in overtime, scoring seven of his 24 points.

Kobe Bryant finished with 29 points and eight assists and Lamar Odom added 19 big points off the bench for the Lakers. Orlando’s Rashard Lewis led all scorers with 34 points, while Hedo Turkoglu added 22 points and Dwight Howard filled the stat sheet with 17 points and 16 rebounds.

Gamblers now turn their attention to Game 3 on Tuesday from Away Arena, where Orlando has posted a solid 7-2 straight up and 6-3 against the spread record in the playoffs. On the year, the Magic own a 39-11 SU and 29-21 ATS record, winning by an average of 10 points per game (101-91).

The two losses both came on buzzer beaters, courtesy of Philadelphia’s Andre Iguodala and Boston’s Big Baby Davis.

Los Angeles posted a league-best 29-12 SU (23-18 ATS) road record during the regular season but haven’t been lights out during the postseason.

In the Lakers’ four losses outside of Staples Center, the team has been clubbed in three of the setbacks and lost the other on a jumper by Utah’s Deron Williams. With that being said, if you fancy the Lakers, the right wager might be on the money-line (+170) rather than the point-spread.

It appears that the oddsmakers have tossed out the first two games of the best-of-seven series after opening Orlando as a four-point home favorite for Game 3.

Paul Bovi, the top percentage NBA handicapper on VegasInsider.com believes the number is fair, considering the play of the Magic. He said, “Orlando's failure in Game 1 was more the case of an abysmal shooting performance rather than Laker domination. The Magic managed to shoot just under 30 percentage from the field in a game they led 33-28 midway through the 2nd period before disintegrating.”

“Game 2 saw the Magic guards combine on 5-of-23 from the field while amassing 20 turnovers as a team. The biggest issue with the Magic has to be their mindset, and in particular point guard Rafer Alston, who has been a key contributor in the playoffs, but has been woeful on combined 3 of 17 shooting. The coach (Stan Van Gundy) has lost confidence in the nine-year pro as he has repeatedly tinkered with the lineup throughout, opting to go without a point guard in the latter stages of Game 2, and with the game on the line.”

Van Gundy not only surprised Bovi but a lot of folks with his rotation. In Game 2, J.J. Redick played 27 minutes, more than Alston and Jameer Nelson. The former Duke standout was a dreadful 2-of-9 from the field, including 1-of-6 from 3-point land, which is his supposed specialty.

It appears the Nelson experiment hasn’t worked for the Magic and Van Gundy, who likes numbers, should look at the facts. Against the Cavaliers, Orlando was 4-0 when Alston averaged double digits and 0-2 when he didn’t. And that includes a 19 PPG average in the team’s three wins at home versus Cleveland too.

Another solid trend helping Orlando and perhaps bettors is the club’s ability to rebound after back-to-back losses. The Magic have only lost three games once all season, a skid that happened in late April and to its defense, the team was missing Howard and two other starters in the third straight setback.

Bovi added, “In spite of the subpar play, the Magic were an alley oop away from taking control of the series. If the Magic settle down and play up to their potential they should take two of three at home over a Lakers team that is vulnerable away from Staples as the Jazz, Nuggets and certainly the Rockets have proven.”

Even though Game 2 had bonus time, it’s fair to say that the majority of the minutes have been unwatchable at least from an offensive standpoint. Total players have watched the ‘under’ go 2-0 through the first two games and the closing numbers haven’t been threatened.

Bovi, who is an expert (64%) in ‘over/under’ bets, commented on the total drop. He said, “At 199, and down from 206.5 in Game 1, the total has seen a sharp adjustment due to the depressed scoring in the first two games. If you take away the overtime, the 175 and 176 points scored in regulation would make a strong case for the under, though it could easily be argued that the Magic will perform better at home from an offensive standpoint, especially given L.A.'s defensive lapses on the road, which could send the game over the soft number.”

Only three teams have ever rallied back from a 0-2 deficit to win the NBA Finals. In 1969, the Boston Celtics defeated the Lakers in seven games. Portland bounced back from a 0-2 hole to Philadelphia in 1977 to win four straight games behind Bill Walton. And just recently, the Miami Heat also captured four consecutive victories in the 2006 NBA Finals against the Dallas Mavericks.

Gamblers believing Orlando can hold serve at home and eventually become the fourth team to pull off the feat can back the club on an adjusted series price of plus-600 (Bet $100 to win $600).

Game 3 is slated to tip off at 9:05 p.m. EDT, with ABC providing national coverage.

After tonight’s showdown in the Magic Kingdom, the two teams will meet in Game 4 on Thursday.

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Re: Game 3 News and Notes

Game of the day: L.A. Lakers at Orlando Magic
By The Prez

Los Angeles Lakers at Orlando Magic (-4, 198): Matchup and trends

Line movement

The line opened -4 at most shops, but some were also giving the Lakers 3.5 points before moving up with the rest of the pack to 4. The total has moved down a point from 199 to 198 at most books.

The series

The Magic are a Courtney-Lee layup, or Pau Gasol goaltending call, from being tied up 1-1 in the Finals, but many experts believe that Orlando’s chance to win the series has vanished. Just three teams in Finals history have come back to win the championship after dropping the first two games on the road – although the last to do it was the Sunshine State’s other NBA team.

That five-point overtime win in Game 2 was the first time the Lakers hadn’t covered since losing Game 4 of the West finals. The extra five minutes allowed the Lakers to reach the century mark for the eighth game in a row. The under has cashed in six of those eight games, including both games against Orlando.
Orlando has won four playoff games in a row at home and has covered in each.

This will be L.A.’s first game east of the Mississippi since April 1. That might not seem like a big deal, but the Lakers’ internal clocks could be a tad off with the longer travel and time change.

Unique lineup

Magic coach Stan Van Gundy went with an unusual lineup down the stretch in Game 2. While point guards Rafer Alston and Jameer Nelson combined for 43 minutes of play, Van Gundy didn’t have a point guard on the floor late in the game. Instead 6-foot-10 Hedo Turkoglu was at the controls for much of the fourth quarter.

Turkoglu and Rashard Lewis were much better in Game 2 than the series opener. Certainly if the pair combine for 56 points again as it did Sunday, you can expect a Magic victory. The two forwards were 9-for-18 from 3-point range, while the rest of the Magic were 1-for-12.

Don’t automatically expect the Magic to shoot better just because they are at home, as both their overall shooting percentage and 3-point percentage are worse in Orlando than on the road in the playoffs. The team is averaging more than four points more per game at Amway Arena than on the road in the postseason, however.

Gasol coming up big

There’s probably little chance that anyone other than Kobe is named Finals MVP if the Lakers win the series, but an argument could be made that Pau Gasol has been the best player in the Finals.

The Spaniard struggled last year against Boston in the Finals but has been stellar against the Magic. He had 24 points (seven in overtime) and 10 boards in Game 2 and his defense on Dwight Howard has been terrific, usually just with single coverage.

"I think I've improved physically to be able to hold my ground a little better,” Gasol said to reporters. “Last year, I felt like I fell short at the end. I ran out of strength, I ran out of energy and couldn't deliver the way I wanted to.”

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Re: Game 3 News and Notes

Total drops again for Game 3 of Finals
By LARRY JOSEPHSON

How low can it go?

Like a limbo bar the over/under number continues to drop in the NBA Finals. From 205.5 in Game 1 to 198 in Sunday’s Game 2, the number for Game 3 in Orlando opened at 198, falling faster than David Ortiz’s projected homer total.

We were warned. The signs were everywhere as the Finals started:

Orlando was a poor over bet all season, covering the number only 36 of 82 times, and just 15 times at home.

The Lakers weren’t much better at 42-39 during the season, and have been on an absolute tear on the under of late. L.A. went under the last three games of the Utah series, finished below the total five of seven times against both Houston and Denver, and now has two unders against Orlando.

This is nothing new for the Lakers, who covered the over only eight times last year in 21 playoff games. In 2007-08, the O/U on the Lakers averaged 227 in four opening-round games against the defensively-challenged Nuggets and gradually melted into the low-190s range against Boston, the best defensive team in the league last season.

NBA playoff series are played at a crawl compared to the regular season and Covers Expert Steve Merril warns bettors not to forget this trend.

“Keep in mind playoff basketball is usually more defense oriented and about 2-to-3 points lower than regular season games,” says Merril, who advised his clients to play in the under in the Finals opening match.

In Game 1 the 205.5 over had a puncher’s chance at halftime, and the Lakers fulfilled their part of the bargain with a 29-point third period. But Orlando couldn’t adjust to Los Angeles double-teams on Dwight Howard in the third period and scored only 15 points. The final 12 minutes were played to comply with NBA rules, as the Lakers had the game and the under was a lock.

With a 15-15 first period, players of the over in Game 2 had lost their money by 8:30 p.m. EST. Even a 21-point overtime period never seriously threatened the 202 over.

“Most of the sharper money has been coming in on the under,” says Jay Kornegay, executive director of race and sportsbook at Las Vegas Hilton. “But by game time the general public bet the over so much we needed the under. So far we adjusted the total four points after each game.

“That is a pretty significant adjustment.”

So what to expect in Game 3 Tuesday in Orlando from two teams which combined are averaging less than 22 points a quarter in regulation play? With the public loving the over as much as ever and the books loving the money that comes in from bettors jumping on the O, who’s to say that 198 is even still too high?

Oddsmaker Peters Childs at Belmont.com points out that the Magic scored a total of 53 points in the third and fourth quarters of Game 2 and figures that with the series moving to Orlando, the Magic might be even more inclined to open the throttle a bit.

“Plus,” says Childs, “even (Lakers coach) Phil Jackson said after Sunday night’s game that he expects a wide-open Game 3.”

In Las Vegas, oddsmaker Pete Korner noted that the Game 1 line of 204 was quickly bet up to 206 and, after the low score in Game 1, the Game 2 number was set at 202 and remained steady.

“Then,” says Korner, “we dropped Game 3 to 199.”

Orlando and Cleveland topped the over five of six times in the Eastern Conference finals, even though the number opened up at 184 and eventually topped out at 192.5 for Game 6. The Cavaliers defense, ranked No. 1 in the NBA during the regular season, put up far less of a fight against Orlando than the Laker defenders have. Only once in L.A. has Orlando been able to score more than 24 points in a period.

Thirty-five percent shooting from the field won’t win a lot of playoff games and the Magic figure that number will improve as the series shifts to Florida – assuming the Game 2 OT loss did not sap too much energy from an Orlando team that seems to have lost its mojo.

Most every offshore and Vegas book lists the number at 198 (with the Purple and Gold getting 4), and with only one day off between Games 2 and 3, there is not a lot of time for it to move. betED.com is offering another half-point (198.5) for under players, and 97.5 for the first half only. Sports Book manager Randy Scott reports that bettors hit the over hard in Games 1 and 2.

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Re: Game 3 News and Notes

L.A. Lakers (14-6 SU, 11-9 ATS) at Orlando (12-9 SU, 11-10 ATS)

The Magic, who dropped the first two games of the NBA Finals on the road, return to Amway Arena in an ostensibly must-win situation for Game 3 against the Lakers, who are now just two wins away from their 15th championship.

After getting blown out 100-75 in Game 1, Orlando stuck with Los Angeles throughout Game 2, going to overtime before falling 101-96 but cashing as a 6½-point underdog. The Magic nearly won it in regulation, but Courtney Lee’s alley-oop layup off an inbounds pass in the final second was off the mark. Rashard Lewis had a game-high 34 points in defeat, hitting 6 of 12 from three-point range, and also added 11 rebounds and seven assists. Hedo Turkoglu added 24 points, while Dwight Howard chipped in 17 points and 16 rebounds, but the star center also had seven turnovers.

After a 40-point effort in Game 1, Kobe Bryant came back Sunday and led Los Angeles with 29 points and eight assists. Bryant’s sidekicks also helped out again, as Pau Gasol had 24 points and 10 rebounds (all on the defensive end), and Lamar Odom contributed 19 points on an 8-for-9 shooting effort. After dominating the glass in Game 1 by a 55-41 margin, the Lakers got outrebounded 44-35 Sunday and gave up 10 three-pointers while hitting just five. However, Los Angeles won the turnover battle 20-12 and outshot the Magic 46.2 percent to 41.8 percent.

With Sunday’s spread-cover, Orlando is now 3-1 ATS (2-2 SU) this season against Los Angeles and 5-2 ATS (3-4 SU) in the last seven clashes in this rivalry. In addition, the underdog is 7-1 ATS in the last eight meetings, with the road team cashing in six of those contests.

Orlando is 39-11 SU (29-21 ATS) at Amway Arena this season, including 7-2 SU (6-3 ATS) in the postseason. Los Angeles is 33-16 SU (27-22 ATS) on the highway, but just 4-4 SU and ATS in the playoffs.

The Lakers, who had won and cashed in three straight prior to Sunday’s ATS setback, remain on pointspread runs of 5-1 after a non-cover, 22-8-2 as a road underdog and 16-7 when catching less than five points. However, they also carry negative ATS streaks of 2-11-1 in the NBA Finals, 3-10 after a SU win and 3-11 against the Southeast Division, and they are 1-4 ATS in their last five against Eastern Conference foes dating to the regular season.

Despite trailing this series 2-0 SU, the Magic remain on several ATS upswings, including 8-2 overall, 4-0 at home, 21-8 against the Western Conference, 38-14 after a SU loss, 5-1 as a playoff chalk and 5-2 following a spread-cover.

The first two games of the Finals have both stayed under the total, with Game 2 falling short of the 202-point osted price despite going to overtime. Furthermore, the Lakers are on “under” tears of 10-2 overall, 10-1 against the Eastern Conference (including the last six in a row), 5-0 against the Southeast Division and 11-5 on the highway. Meanwhile, the under for Orlando is on runs of 13-6 at home, 6-0 against the Western Conference, 8-2 after a SU loss and 7-2 with the Magic favored in the postseason.

On the flip side, the last five Lakers-Magic meetings at Amway Arena have hurdled the posted price.

ATS ADVANTAGE: ORLANDO and UNDER

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