NBA Betting News and Notes Saturday, April 20

NBA Betting News and Notes Saturday, April 20

What Bettors Need to Know: Celtics at Knicks, Bulls at Nets
By Covers.com

Boston Celtics at New York Knicks (-6.5, 190)

Carmelo Anthony won the league's scoring title and is in the discussion for the MVP award, but the superstar forward has a more pressing goal entering the postseason. Anthony has led his teams past the first round of the playoffs only once, and he will attempt to double that number when the No. 2 seed New York Knicks host the Boston Celtics on Saturday in Game 1 of their best-of-seven series. New York won the season series, 3-1.

While the Knicks were white-hot at the end of the season, winning 13 straight and 15 of 16 before Anthony and other key players took the final two games off, Boston staggered down the stretch. The Celtics dropped 11 of their last 16 while stars Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce took turns sitting out and trying to get healthy. Two of the losses - both by double digits - were against the Knicks in a six-day span last month. Boston won at New York in January, a game that ended with Anthony trying to confront Garnett before he boarded the team bus.

ABOUT THE CELTICS (41-40): Garnett (ankle) sat out 10 of the last 13 games, including the two losses to New York in late March. Given that he's Boston's most reliable source of offense among its big men and the team's best interior defender, his health is paramount for the Celtics. Pierce, who likely will be matched up against Anthony, missed three of the last eight games with his own ankle issues. He has also directed the offense at times after point guard Rajon Rondo suffered a season-ending knee injury in late January. Forward Jeff Green has assumed a larger offensive role since Rondo's injury and scored a combined 46 points in the last two meetings with the Knicks.

ABOUT THE KNICKS (54-28): Anthony bounced back from a knee injury in March with a torrid April, becoming the first player to score at least 35 points in six consecutive games. He averaged 25.3 points in four games against Boston but also put up 103 shots and connected on only 34.9 percent. Sixth man J.R. Smith was also magnificent during the 13-game run, putting up five 30-point games during that span, including 32 in a 100-85 victory at Boston on March 26. The Knicks received great news when ailing center Tyson Chandler pronounced himself 100 percent healthy for the playoffs. The 2011-12 Defensive Player of the Year had missed 16 of the last 20 games with a neck issue.

TRENDS:

* Over is 5-0 in Celtics’ last five overall.
* Celtics are 1-4 ATS in the last five meetings.
* Knicks are 10-1 ATS in their last 11 games vs. a team with a winning record.
* Celtics are 0-4 ATS in their last four vs. NBA Atlantic foes.

BUZZER BEATERS

1. New York's 54-28 record is the best by the franchise since 1996-97.

2. Boston, which has only one win over a .500 team since March 8, has advanced past the first round of the playoffs in each of the last five seasons.

3. The Knicks signed F Quentin Richardson earlier in the week. He has had altercations with both Pierce and Garnett in the past.


Chicago Bulls at Brooklyn Nets (-4.5, 181.5)

The Brooklyn Nets have made a stunning transition since departing New Jersey and will open their first playoff series in six years when they host the Chicago Bulls on Saturday. The Eastern Conference series opener is the first major professional sports playoff game held in Brooklyn since the 1956 World Series, when the Dodgers played at Ebbets Field. The Bulls are playoff regulars, making their fifth straight appearance despite being without Derrick Rose the entire season.

Chicago has dealt with a series of injuries while playing well enough to land the fifth seed. The Bulls feel all the hurdles have prepared them for the postseason. “We’ve been thought a lot,” center Joakim Noah said. “We’ve been through a lot. There were a lot of distractions. There was a lot of adversity. A lot of injuries. Regardless of what was thrown at us, we fought hard through it all.” The fourth-seeded Nets had to convince point guard Deron Williams that the franchise was ready to rise to keep him in the offseason and now feel primed to win a series. “It’s good for us – the first season in Brooklyn to be in the playoffs,” Williams said. “That was the goal, and we accomplished that goal. But we’ve still got a ways to go.” Chicago won three of the four regular-season meetings.

ABOUT THE BULLS (45-37): Chicago overcame the loss of Rose, who suffered a major knee injury in last season’s playoffs, to again be part of the postseason. Noah has been bothered with injuries and was laboring down the stretch but plans to gut it out in the playoffs. “During the game, he feels fine,” Bulls coach Tom Thibodeau said. “I think he’s hopeful that he’ll get better and better as we go along. It’s the type of injury where he’s going to have to try to manage it as best as he can.” Chicago was third in the NBA in scoring defense (92.9) and will attempt to slow the pace against the Nets. Boozer averaged 21.3 points and 10.7 rebounds in three games against Brooklyn this season.

ABOUT THE NETS (49-33): Shooting guard Joe Johnson struggled against Chicago’s pesky defense and averaged just 13 points. Williams averaged 19.8 points and 6.8 assists against the Bulls while center Brook Lopez averaged 22 points. This version of the Nets might be new to the postseason but they feel they can make an impact. “I think we know how good we can be,” Brooklyn interim coach P.J. Carlesimo said. “We’ve had the roster intact at different times. We just need everybody healthy. The playoffs are a different animal – everything starts over.” Power forward Reggie Evans is a difference-maker on the boards and has grabbed 10 or more rebounds in each of his last 18 appearances.

TRENDS:

* Underdog is 4-1 ATS in the last five meetings.
* Over is 4-1 in Nets’ last five overall.
* Under is 5-1 in Bulls’ last six road games.
* Bulls are 6-1 ATS in their last seven games vs. a team with a winning record.

BUZZER BEATERS

1. Three of the four regular-season meetings were decided by four or fewer points. Chicago won the other contest by 11 points.

2. Bulls C Joakim Noah (foot) has suffered a setback and is doubtful for Game 1.

3. The Nets last won a playoff game on May 16, 2007, when they beat the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference semifinals.

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Re: NBA Betting News and Notes Saturday, April 20

What Bettors Need to Know: Warriors at Nuggets, Grizzlies at Clippers
By Covers.com

Golden State Warriors at Denver Nuggets (-7.5, 210.5)

The Denver Nuggets are on the shortlist of NBA title contenders due in part to their overwhelming homecourt advantage. The Nuggets will put that advantage to the test when they host the Golden State Warriors on Saturday in the opener of a first-round playoff series. Golden State had to battle until the last few minutes of the regular season to secure the No. 6 spot but enters the playoffs with little experience. The Nuggets will have their depth tested in the first round.

Denver lost leading scorer Danilo Gallinari for the rest of the season to a knee injury earlier this month and fierce rebounder Kenneth Faried went down with an ankle sprain in the final week. The Nuggets are listing Faried as questionable for Saturday but might need to have a backup plan for keeping David Lee off the boards. The Warriors had their own injury scare when Andrew Bogut went down with a sprained ankle, but the big man returned for the season finale on Wednesday and should be in the starting lineup for Game 1. Bogut’s presence in the paint is essential on the defensive end.

ABOUT THE WARRIORS (47-35): Golden State is heading to the playoffs for the first time since 2007 and Bogut is the only starter with any postseason experience. Veterans like Jarrett Jack, Carl Landry and Richard Jefferson will come off the bench to support first-timers Stephen Curry, Klay Thompson and Lee. The Warriors have survived all season by playing an up-tempo pace that stops at the 3-point line, where Curry set the single-season record for made 3-pointers with 272. Thompson finished third in the league with 211 3-pointers and Jack offers a third reliable option from deep, which opens space on the inside for Lee to operate. Lee was the lone All-Star representative but Curry has taken over in the second half of the season and is becoming a star. The lanky point guard hit 11 3-pointers in a game at Madison Square Garden in February and knocked down nine at Los Angeles on April 12 to make his run at Ray Allen’s record possible over the last two games. Staying in front of Denver’s guards on defense, or at least forcing them to move toward Bogut in the middle, will be the big test for Curry in the series.

ABOUT THE NUGGETS (57-25): Denver went 38-3 at home and could probably match Golden State 3-point attempt for 3-point attempt if it wanted. Instead, the Nuggets force the pace and get all the way to the rim. Faried is one of the team’s best finishers in the paint but certainly not the only one. Faried went out three minutes into a win over Portland on Sunday and Denver still averaged 116 points in its final three contests, including the date with the Trail Blazers. The Nuggets will go 10 or 11 players deep with or without Faried and Gallinari and will use their altitude and depth to wear out the Warriors in the first two games. Denver took both of the meetings at home in the regular season by 11 points apiece. Curry went for 29 points in the last meeting on Jan. 13 but the Nuggets had nine players score at least eight points and outscored Golden State in the paint 58-32.

TRENDS:

* Warriors are 4-1 ATS in their last five games overall.
* Nuggets are 10-1 ATS in their last 11 vs. NBA Pacific foes.
* Over is 4-0 in Nuggets’ last four overall.
* Home team is 5-1 ATS in the last six meetings.

BUZZER BEATERS

1. Lee led the NBA with 56 double-doubles, becoming the first Warriors player to lead the league in the category since Wilt Chamberlain in 1963-64.

2. Denver took three of the four meetings during the regular season, with the lone setback coming at Golden State on Nov. 29, 106-105.

3. Curry has hit 56.3 percent of his 3-point attempts in 12 career games against the Nuggets.


Memphis Grizzlies at Los Angeles Clippers (-5, 178)

The Los Angeles Clippers and Memphis Grizzlies engaged in a hard-fought playoff series last year and the Western Conference first-round series between the two teams should be just as competitive this time around. Game 1 is Saturday in Los Angeles between two clubs that each won 56 regular-season games to set franchise marks for victories in a season. The Clippers won the season series 3-1. Last season’s playoff series went seven games with Los Angeles prevailing.

The fourth-seeded Clippers won their last seven games while fifth-seeded Memphis won nine of its last 11 games. The Grizzlies win with defense and the Clippers are familiar with what looms. “We know that team very well,” guard Chauncey Billups said. “They’re going to play hard. They want to out-execute you. They want to pound you and rebound and throw it to their bigs inside and we’ve just got to be ready for them.” Memphis center Marc Gasol minimized the payback aspect of facing the Clippers. “We want to win,” Gasol said. “We want to win four games. We want to get into the second round. It is not about revenge.”

ABOUT THE GRIZZLIES (56-26): Memphis held an NBA-best 71 opponents under 100 points and led the NBA in scoring defense at 89.3 points per game. The Grizzlies are the first team to hold opponents under an average of 90 points since the 2005-06 campaign, when both Memphis and San Antonio did so. Gasol averaged 16.8 points and nine rebounds against the Clippers this season and power forward Zach Randolph averaged 14.8 points and 12 rebounds. Point guard Mike Conley has the tough task of dueling with All-Star Chris Paul. That didn’t go so well in the four regular-season meetings, when Conley shot just 30.2 percent while averaging 10.3 points and 5.8 assists.

ABOUT THE CLIPPERS (56-26): Paul averaged 16.3 points and 8.7 assists in three games against Memphis. Sixth man Jamal Crawford had 29 points in one of the victories but had just two points on 1-of-10 shooting in Los Angeles’ lone loss. He averaged 14 points against the Grizzlies. Power forward Blake Griffin had some struggles against Randolph while averaging 13.8 points and seven rebounds. Los Angeles would like to get a big series from center DeAndre Jordan, who shot 65.5 percent against the Grizzlies while averaging 9.5 points and seven rebounds. Los Angeles topped 100 points against Memphis in one of the four games and scored 99 in another.

TRENDS:

* Clippers are 4-0 ATS in their last four home games.
* Under is 9-1 in Grizzlies’ last 10 overall.
* Under is 6-1 in the last seven meetings.
* Grizzlies are 4-1 ATS in their last five games overall.

BUZZER BEATERS

1. The teams split the two regular-season meetings at the Staples Center.

2. Memphis went 24-17 on the road this season, the first time the franchise has ever posted a winning mark.

3. The Clippers set a franchise mark with a 32-9 home record.

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Re: NBA Betting News and Notes Saturday, April 20

2013 NBA Playoffs

Knicks have home court edge in playoffs for first time in 12 years; they last won a playoff series in 2000, but they did win last three games with Celtics, by 3-15-19 points, making 26-59 behind arc in two games in this arena (16-56 in Boston). Celtics have 4th-best defensive 3-point %age, have more playoff experience on their side, but they're without Rondo, which will be glaring here. Three of four series games this year stayed under the total. Lot of pressure on New York to win this series.

Denver won three of four vs Golden State this season, with only loss a game they led 60-51 at half, but teams last played January 13 and other three meetings were in November. Nuggets are 38-3 at home; they won by 11 both times they hosted Warriors this season. Golden State is in playoffs for only second time in last 19 years, but shaky health of Curry and Bogut is problem. Denver is 5-1 since Gallinari got hurt; they've got 57 wins because they're very deep. Three of four series tilts went over. Denver is #1 team on offensive boards; Warriors #1 on defensive end.

Chicago won three of four vs Brooklyn this year, with wins by 1-11-2 points, as three of four series games were decided by four or less points. Nets shot 52% from floor in its only win, less than 45% in their losses. Chicago won both series games that stayed under total- Brooklyn led by 11 in last series game, but lost 92-90 at home 16 days ago. Noah's foot in a problem; Bulls beat Nets both times he played. Derrick Rose's absence will hurt here; guy has been practicing 5-on-5 but can't/won't play, not a good thing for a star. I'm not a fan of teams who fired their coach during the season, and the Nets canned Avery Johnson long time ago.

Clippers won Game 7 in Memphis in first round LY, after blowing 3-1 lead in series where four games were decided by 1 or 2 points, or in OT; Clips won three of four meetings this year, winning both games on road in series where visitor led all four games at half. Memphis shot 41% or less in its three losses to LA, 54.4% in the win; they averaged 16 boards a game on offensive end vs LA, which blocked 30 shots in four games vs Griz, which had 3rd-best record in league after All-Star break. Memphis takes the lest 3-pointers in NBA, so Clipper big guys have to neutralize Zach Randolph as best they can inside.

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