HOU: James Harden
SAS: Tony Parker, Tiago Splitter, Stephen Jackson, Manu still out
NYK: Tyson Chandler
MIL: Monta Ellis, M'bah A'Mouteh
INDI: David West
LAC: Chauncey Billups
DEN: JaVale McGee (in addition to Iguodala, Chandler, Gallinari)
CLEV: Kyrie Irving
BRK: Deron Williams
*Most of these are day-to-day, but I don't think James Harden will play. Rolled his ankle pretty bad when he stepped on David Lee's foot.
*And about BOS: Rondo is out for the rest of the season.
Question for tonight: which angles would come into play? Hmm....
Lovely 3-0 night last night, gents! Talk about nerves with a 0.5pt cover on NYK.
On to the next plays:
If you want free money, take DEN ML. But why settle for a low return when a +/-90% ROI beckons? With the line this high even after DEN's recent wins, you know there's something bad in store for CLEV. The Cavs just notched up a respectable 16-pt win vs ATL last Wed. It's time to go back to their losing ways
Just when you think POR's hitting a groove with 4 straight wins, and after overachieving on the win vs MIA, here comes the mini-crash from my favorite NBA team... POR's a decent team, but GSW is primed to win and cover this one.
POR@GSW Under 198.5
Am not sure why the total is set this high. The math on my spreadsheet says the total should be much lower than this, and I'm trusting the numbers. Just because GSW slackened up on D their last 3 games doesn't mean that's a trend to ride on.
++other notes: undecided on the HOU@BOS game, but leaning HOU +2.5. Depends on how HOU bounces back from a horrible 4-19 shooting in the 4th q last game vs. NOH. One thing is sure, though--if this game shoots over the total—which I think it will—HOU will not only cover, it will win SU. If the game goes Under, then it signifies that BOS will be in control throughout. Do not mind the fact that BOS might be in revenge mode after a 89-101 loss to HOU last Dec 14; that stat is largely irrelevant now. The motivations of the team coming off a loss have greater weight (HOU)
And if you've been playing the NBA long enough, you know what that means:
NYK not only covers, but could very well win SU.
NYK and the Under, folks
*add POR +3 to that crazy mix (Oh no! MIA won't lose 2 straight! They're MIA after all...)
So the books, after seeing the 2-game performances of LAC and UTA, how close those games went, how UTA almost won SU last game between these two, decides to jack up the line to -9.5 when UTA "should be" looking for blood?
Line is practically begging you to take UTA +9.5. And knowing there are no free lunches in the world of gambling, I smell a rat.
LAC -9.5 to the bank.
Feel free to disagree
Is it because they blew their way through the first 2 rounds of the playoffs? ORL has had the luck of the draw in this postseason more than any other team. CHA and ATL, although possessed of very potent offenses, were ORL's regular season bitches. If not for a last-second putback dunk by Josh Smith that resulted in a 86-84 ATL win last Mar. 24, ORL would've swept the season series between them 4-0. Similarly, CHA took advantage of ORL's b2b situation last Mar. 14 to put up their only season win vs the Magic. The playoffs between these 2 and the Magic have not been really competitive, with the only game the Magic failed to cover a ORL -10 game vs CHA last April 18 (Playoffs Game 1), with the 98-89 final score failing to illustrate that ORL had led by as much as 22 pts in the 2nd half. CHA and ATL are teams that have problems with opponents that feature great centers biggest they don't have legit big men. The Celtics are not that kind of team.
Magic vs Celtics
The Magic must've been hoping that it was CLEV who came out of the Eastern semifinal, because there is nothing on that scrub team, despite the addition of Jamison and Shaq, that would've guaranteed a Cleveland series victory. Basically the same CLEV team as last year = an Orlando trip to the NBA Finals. On the other hand, the Celtics are now all healthy, and are enjoying an offensive renaissance from Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo. Yes, the same Ray-Ray and Rondo that last year were both the subject of trade proposals. Even Paul Pierce was shaking his head at how they might be broken up. And yet that Celtics team, rife with trade talk, with KG out and so shorthanded they had to play Stephon Marbury and that inutile cocksucker Scalabrine, was able to take it to the almighty Magic. After Game 5, the Celts were up 3-2, after which everything pretty much went downhill because ORL refused to just roll over and die. Is ORL that much better this year? One might say that Jameer playing would spell the difference. To an extent, yes, but look at his defensive assignment. It's not as if he's going have a walk in the park with the faster, younger and more talented Rondo.
Look past the 3-1 season advantage ORL has over BOS and consider that in their 3rd meeting, a 96-94 ORL victory, the Celtics led by as much as 16pts, a feat that required a 35-22 ORL surge late in the game to achieve a Magic win. So it could very well have been 2-2 between them.
The only hope that ORL could have to win this series is by shooting less 3's and taking more high percentage shots. Fat chance. In the CHA series, ORL took +/- 30 three-pointers per game. In the ATL series, ORL seemed to tone down in the 1st 2 games, attempting 23 three-pointers each, then slunk back to their old ways, shooting 29 and 37 attempts in Games 3 & 4. The point with ORL's 3-pt attempts is that in their regular season matchup, whenever ORL shoots a good percentage from beyond the arc, they win over the Celts. When they don't, the outcome is a predictable ORL loss. It will hardly be that easy vs this playoff's 2nd stingiest defense (BOS). ORL will have to rely very much on Dwight down low to free up space for their long-range bombers, but even there, Team Disney will not have it easy. No one on the Celtics team is incapable or afraid of Dwight. Not Perkins, not Rasheed, and certainly not KG. The other Magic men would now have to create their own shot much more than they did during the first two rounds of the playoffs, something they might have to relearn after their cakewalk vs ATL and CHA.
Last year, ORL walked into TD Banknorth Garden and stole Game 1. I bet my marbles the Celtics haven't forgotten and are looking to return the favor this year. Although I don't have the balls to bet BOS ML just yet, my Game 1 bet is...
Contrarian opinions most welcome, folks!!