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NBA Betting News and Notes Sunday, April 21

NBA Betting News and Notes Sunday, April 21

NBA Playoffs: Sunday's East Betting Preview
By Covers.com

Atlanta Hawks at Indiana Pacers (-6.5, 185.5)

The Indiana Pacers have believed they are capable of knocking off the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference since taking them to the brink last spring. If they hope to get another shot at the defending champs, the third-seeded Pacers will have to figure out a way around the Atlanta Hawks first. The sixth-seeded Hawks visit Indiana on Sunday for Game 1 and have the type of size and strength that could frustrate the Pacers.

The teams split four meetings in the regular season, with each holding home court. Atlanta’s Josh Smith and Al Horford will battle with Indiana’s David West and Roy Hibbert on the inside and try to draw them away from the basket. The Pacers are one of the most disciplined defensive teams in the league but began to show some cracks in April while dropping five of six to close out the regular season. Indiana allowed 102.1 points in its final eight games - nearly 12 points above its season average.

ABOUT THE HAWKS (44-38): Atlanta did not exactly finish with a flurry, either, losing five of their final seven to erase any chance of homecourt advantage in the first round. The Hawks went 19-22 on the road and dropped four of their final six away from Atlanta during the regular season, including a 100-94 setback at Indiana on March 25. Smith scored 20 points but the Hawks were outrebounded 49-38 in the loss. Smith played sparingly over the final weeks while fighting off a knee injury but looked strong when he was in the lineup and shot 55 percent from the field in the final month. Atlanta is counting on the point guard combo of Jeff Teague and Devin Harris to give it an advantage on the perimeter. Teague averaged nine assists in April and cut his turnovers to 2.3 - the lowest of any month.

ABOUT THE PACERS (49-32):
Indiana looked like a lock for the No. 2 seed in the East before its slump coincided with the New York Knicks’ surge. Either way, the Pacers will have to make it to the Eastern Conference finals if the want to get another crack at the Heat. Indiana led the NBA in rebounding average behind Hibbert and West and was second in points allowed despite the letup on that end late in the season. The biggest difference between this spring and last is the increase role of shooting guard Lance Stephenson, who has given the team a tenacious perimeter defender and a solid shooting option on the wing. Stephenson missed the last meeting with the Hawks but collected 14 points and six rebounds in a 114-103 win over them on Feb. 5.

TRENDS:

* Hawks are 1-8 ATS in their last nine vs. Eastern Conference foes.
* Pacers are 0-8 ATS in their last eight Sunday games.
* Over is 7-1 in Hawks’ last eight road games.
* Over is 4-1 in the last five meetings.

BUZZER BEATERS

1. Smith has averages 15.6 points on 42 percent shooting in 46 career playoff games.

2. Atlanta lost to Boston in the first round last season, ending a streak of three straight first-round series wins.

3. The teams met in the playoffs three straight seasons from 1993-94 through 1995-96. They have not faced off in the postseason since.


Milwaukee Bucks at Miami Heat (-13, 199)

The Miami Heat have spent the last two weeks resting up for the playoffs, sometimes sitting all five starters at the same time and still winning games. The eighth-seeded Milwaukee Bucks, who visit the top-seeded Heat in the opener of a first-round playoff series on Sunday, have spent the last two weeks backing into the postseason. The Bucks are the only team in the playoffs with a losing record and dropped seven of nine down the stretch.

Most of Miami’s injuries were of the nagging or non-existent variety down the stretch with the exception of Dwyane Wade, who was battling a knee issue. Wade returned over the final two games and looked sharp with 21 points and 10 assists on Wednesday. The Heat are the favorites to repeat as champion and have done little to make anyone doubt that prognostication. Miami finished the season with wins in 37 of its final 39 games and ranks in the top five in both points scored and points allowed. Milwaukee will try to pick at the Heat’s lone weakness on the glass while Monta Ellis and Brandon Jennings attempt to wear them out on the perimeter.

ABOUT THE BUCKS (38-44): Milwaukee was two games above .500 after beating the Portland Trail Blazers on March 19 and was threatening to move up out of the No. 8 spot. But the Bucks went 4-12 over their final 16 games and struggled on the defensive end while getting inconsistent production from Jennings and Ellis on the perimeter. Jennings went 1-for-11 from the field in a home loss to Denver in the next-to-last game of the season but had one of his best games with 30 points on 10-of-16 shooting in a 94-83 loss at Miami on April 9. That marked the only time in Milwaukee’s final 22 games that he shot better than 50 percent from the floor. Where the Bucks excel is on the glass. Larry Sanders, Ersan Ilyasova and John Henson will try to keep LeBron James off the boards and out of transition.

ABOUT THE HEAT (66-16): Miami has the best player in the game in James and put together the second-longest winning streak in NBA history with 27 straight that included 107-94 triumph at Milwaukee on March 15. Anything less than back-to-back titles will be a disappointment for the Heat. Miami’s biggest worry on Sunday will be how the team comes together after so many of the regulars took multiple games off and did not get a chance to play together down the stretch. The Heat should be able to shake off that rust by halftime in their own building, where they posted an Eastern Conference-best 37-4 record. James just finished up a regular season in which he shot 56.5 percent from the field and 40.6 percent from beyond the arc. He went 11-for-16 from the field in the April 9 win over the Bucks and has averaged 29.4 points on 50.1 percent shooting against Milwaukee in his career.

TRENDS:

* Bucks are 2-8 ATS in their last 10 road games.
* Heat are 7-1 ATS in their last eight games overall.
* Over is 5-1 in Heat’s last six home games.
* Over is 4-0 in Bucks’ last four Sunday games.

BUZZER BEATERS


1. Sanders missed the final four games of the regular season with a back injury and is questionable for Sunday.

2. The Heat are bidding to become the 10th team (out of 13) to win the title after posting at least 66 wins in the regular season.

3. Henson averaged 15 points and 15 rebounds in the final five games.

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Re: NBA Betting News and Notes Sunday, April 21

NBA Playoffs: Sunday's West Betting Preview
By Covers.com

Los Angeles Lakers at San Antonio Spurs (-8.5, 189)

What would have been considered a marquee matchup entering the season is shaping up as a battle of attrition when the second-seeded San Antonio Spurs clash with the No. 7 Los Angeles Lakers in the opening round of the playoffs. The Lakers have lost superstar Kobe Bryant to a torn Achilles’ tendon and are unsure about the availability of point guard Steve Nash entering Sunday's Game 1 of the best-of-seven series at San Antonio. Although Nash has stated that he wants to play.

The Spurs have their own major health concerns, primarily revolving around point guard Tony Parker, who had elevated himself into the MVP discussion until suffering an ankle injury in early March. San Antonio also has questions surrounding veteran swingman Manu Ginobili, who missed nine games with a hamstring injury before returning to play limited minutes in the regular-season finale. The Spurs limp into the postseason having lost three straight and eight of 13 while Los Angeles closed the season with five straight victories and eight of nine.

ABOUT THE LAKERS (45-37): Forward Pau Gasol, who was benched at the end of January, carried Los Angeles to its postseason-clinching win on the final day by recording a triple-double in an overtime victory over Houston. Without Bryant, the Lakers will be reliant on the inside tandem of Gasol and center Dwight Howard, who had 26 points and 17 rebounds in a narrow victory over San Antonio last Sunday. Nash missed the last eight games with hamstring and hip soreness, but he reported improvement after recently receiving two epidural shots in his lower back. Backup point guard Steve Blake has filled an offensive void since Bryant went down, scoring 47 points in the last two.

ABOUT THE SPURS (58-24): Parker was brilliant in leading San Antonio to 16 wins in 17 games in January and February, scoring 30 points six times in a nine-game span. He played in only five games in April and one was a four-point, 1-for-10 effort against the Lakers. Tim Duncan continues to defy the aging process, finishing with 11 double-doubles in his last 15 games. Kawhi Leonard (11.9 points), Ginobili (11.8), Danny Green (10.5) and Tiago Splitter (10.3) all average in double figures, but Duncan knows who provides the biggest impact. “Manu changes the game for us. He’s done it for years," Duncan said. "To have him back out there and to have another X-factor is huge for us.”

TRENDS:

* Over is 5-1 in Lakers’ last six road games.
* Under is 5-0 in Spurs’ last five Sunday games.
* Spurs are 1-7 ATS in their last eight home games.

BUZZER BEATERS

1. The teams are meeting for the 12th time in the postseason, with Los Angeles leading 8-3.

2. Howard has averaged 19 points and 13.2 rebounds lifetime against the Spurs, who won two of three meetings this season by a total of five points.

3. San Antonio is 17-9 against Los Angeles when Parker scores at least 20 points.


Houston Rockets at Oklahoma City Thunder (-10, 213.5)

James Harden was a key cog on the Oklahoma City squad that reached the NBA Finals last season. Now the Houston Rockets’ star would like to end the Thunder’s season in the opening round. Houston visits Oklahoma City in Sunday’s series opener and the Rockets are in the playoffs for the first time in four years, primarily because Harden emerged as the NBA’s fifth-leading scorer. Oklahoma City traded Harden when it couldn’t reach contractual terms with him.

The Thunder won two of the three regular-season meetings but Harden exploded for a career-high 46 points in Houston’s 122-119 victory on Feb. 20. The eighth-seeded Rockets lack the postseason experience that the Thunder possess. “Guys have never been in this situation, they’ve never been in the playoffs,” Harden said. “Blessed and fortunate to have been there a few times and whatever advice I can give, I just let it out.” Oklahoma City earned the top seed in the Western Conference despite the Harden deal that brought backup guard Kevin Martin to town. “We felt we moved on pretty quick, and it’s shown through what we’ve been able to accomplish this year with our record,” Thunder coach Scott Brooks said.

ABOUT THE ROCKETS (45-37): Harden averaged 25.9 points as a lead option and will be expected to carry the flow. Yet Houston does have a few other solid options in forward Chandler Parsons, center Omer Asik, point guard Jeremy Lin and forward Carlos Delfino. Asik averaged 10.1 points and 11.7 rebounds and his performance will be crucial for Houston to give Oklahoma City a stern test. “You’re talking about a team that went to the finals last year in Oklahoma City,” Rockets coach Kevin McHale told reporters. “That place is going to electric Sunday night. It’s going to be a big, big high-energy crowd. They’re going to be excited. Our guys have to be excited to do it.”

ABOUT THE THUNDER (60-22): There are expectations of Oklahoma City returning to the Finals but the Thunder know the road will be tough. “Most people say a 1-8 seed (matchup) is supposed to be easy, or a 2-7 seed,” forward Kevin Durant said. “We’ve never had an easy series. Never. Last year was so tough against Dallas, it took all we had for us to beat those guys. This year, Houston. I think they’re playing better than an eighth seed and play so well. So we’ve got our work cut out for us.” Durant averaged 26.3 points against Houston this season while point guard Russell Westbrook averaged 23.3 points, 8.3 assists and 7.7 rebounds. Forward Serge Ibaka also excelled, shooting 64.5 percent from the field while averaging 16 points, 8.7 rebounds and four blocks.

TRENDS:

* Rockets are 1-5 ATS in their last six games overall.
* Over is 4-0 in the last four meetings.
* Under is 5-1-1 in Thunder’s last seven home games.
* Thunder are 5-1 ATS in their last six games vs. a team with a winning record.

BUZZER BEATERS


1. Oklahoma City’s two victories over the Rockets were by scores of 120-98 and 124-94.

2. Asik recorded double-digit rebounding outings in eight of the last 10 games.

3. Martin averaged 17 points in the three outings against Houston.

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Re: NBA Betting News and Notes Sunday, April 21

2013 NBA Playoffs

Indiana has best defensive team in NBA (best FG% vs both 2-point and 3-point shots), but Atlanta has quickness advantage inside and will try to exploit it. Home side won all four Atlanta-Indiana games this season; Hawks lost both visits here, by 11-6 points, with both games going over. Atlanta is 2-5 in its last seven games overall, with four of last five going over total. Indiana lost five of its last six games, with four of last five going over as well- they played faster pace in games vs Atlanta than vs any other team in league. Hawks have lot of guys whose contracts are expiring, will they play for themselves or to advance?

Lot of older, injured stars in Laker-Spur series; Bryant is out, Nash is a ???, Parker/Ginobili are banged up and Diaw is out, which why Tracy McGrady was brought back from China. LA won last five games and 8 of last 9 to squeak into playoffs; they're 20-8 in last 28 games, 1-2 vs Spurs, with three games decided by total of 10 points-- all three stayed under total. Spurs lost seven of last ten games to fall out of #1 seed, but they were pointing to playoffs. Spurs shot under 39% in two of three games vs Lakers; they made 12-25 from arc in Lakers' only visit to this site. LA was +23 in FT's tried in two games played at Staples. Lakers' best two players with Bryant out are 7-footers; Spurs want to run.

Milwaukee lost 15 of last 21 games, finished 38-44, has as much chance of beating Miami best-of-7 as I do of dating Pamela Anderson. Bucks did upset Heat 104-85 at home Dec 29, forcing 20 turnovers (+15), but lost other three meetings by 7-13-11 points, with last three games staying under total. Only once in four meetings did Miami lead by more than a hoop at the half. Bucks have to try and make Heat shoot jumpers; Heat took 33-24-22-10 FTs in four meetings, going 8-35 from arc in last game April 9, so Milwaukee has to pack in defense, keep game slow as they can, and hope Miami is extremely overconfident. Good luck with that.

Houston star Harden came off bench for Thunder, but played starters' minutes; Rockets got whacked by 22-30 points by OC before holidays, but beat Thunder 122-119 in last meeting Feb 20, making 15-33 on arc (made 16-51 in two losses)- Harden had 46 that game. Houston turns it over more than any team in league partially because they run more than most teams; they've got to minimize OC's easy hoops, since its defense in halfcourt isn't exactly great. Thunder scored 120-124-119 in the three games with Houston, which is better-than-average #8 seed, but playing wrong style to upset this defensively-stout favorite.

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