05/08/2012 06:07 PM
Tuesday's Playoff Tips
This season's NBA playoffs have seemed predictable to a certain extent, even though one of the two top seeds can be knocked out in five games. Granted, the Bulls are playing without last season's MVP Derrick Rose, but Philadelphia can send Chicago home for good with a victory on Tuesday. The 76ers are one of four teams that can advance to the second round with a win, while the Pacers, Celtics, and Lakers are on the doorstep of the conference semifinals. We'll start in Indianapolis with the Pacers looking to make the Magic disappear for good.
Magic at Pacers - 7:05 PM EST (NBA TV)
This series felt like a sweep when the news came down that Orlando would be without Dwight Howard for the postseason. Magically, Stan Van Gundy's club overcame a seven-point deficit late in Game 1 to steal the opener, 81-77 as 9 ½-point road underdogs. The Pacers bounced back with three consecutive victories to take the commanding 3-1 series advantage, but Game 4 was no walk in the park.
Indiana built a 19-point lead with eight minutes left in regulation on Saturday, but Orlando rallied back to force overtime. The Pacers held off the Magic, 101-99, as Indiana failed to cover as five-point road 'chalk.' David West and Danny Granger combined to score 47 points, but George Hill was the hero in overtime by tallying the final six points for the victory. Six Orlando players finished with double-figures, while knocking down only nine of 29 attempts from three-point range.
The Magic own a 6-3 ATS and 5-4 SU record when facing elimination in the playoffs since 2008, as Orlando has compiled a 7-2 mark to the 'under' in these nine games. Indiana is looking to advance to the second round for the first time since 2005, when the Pacers routed the Celtics in Game 7 by a 97-70 count. Frank Vogel's club has won and covered six straight games at home off a road win since late March.
Celtics at Hawks - 8:05 PM EST (TNT)
Atlanta fell short in a Game 3 overtime defeat without Josh Smith and Al Horford, but the two forwards returned for Sunday's 22-point blowout loss at Boston to fall down, 3-1 in the series. The Celtics have an opportunity to close the series on the road, while attempting to advance to the second round for the fifth straight postseason.
Boston led by as many as 37 points in the 101-79 rout in Game 4, as Paul Pierce put together his third straight solid performance with 24 points in 16 minutes. Pierce suffered a knee injury, but is expected to be in the starting lineup for Game 5. Horford returned to the Atlanta lineup after missing the last four months with a pectoral tear, as the former Florida Gator scored 12 points on 6-for-10 shooting from the floor. The Celtics became the first team to eclipse the 100-point mark in the series, while the 'over' hit for the second straight game.
The Hawks are riding a 4-0 SU/ATS streak off a double-digit loss, as three of those victories came at Philips Arena. Boston is 5-2 ATS as a road underdog off a win this season, while one of those two losses came in the series opener to Atlanta.
76ers at Bulls - 9:30 PM (NBA TV)
Things didn't go according to plan for Chicago, who expected to be on a collision course with Miami in the Eastern Conference Finals for the second straight season. Following Rose's left ACL tear in the series opener, the Bulls lost leading rebounding Joakim Noah to an ankle injury in Game 3. Noah sat out the Game 4 loss at Philadelphia, while he is expected to sit once again on Tuesday as the Bulls try to fight off elimination.
The Bulls were put on the brink following another low-scoring affair at the Wells Fargo Center on Sunday, an 89-82 setback as three-point road underdogs. Jrue Holiday continued to take advantage of the Rose injury by scoring 20 points, including a critical three-pointer down the stretch. Spencer Hawes put up a game-high 22 points for the Sixers, as Philadelphia is in a position to win its first playoff series since 2003 against New Orleans.
Chicago has compiled a 5-1 SU and 4-2 ATS record as a home favorite off a road loss, while going 10-1 SU and 7-3-1 ATS at home off a defeat overall. The Sixers are 5-1 ATS the previous six contests on the road off a win, which includes a loss in the season finale at Detroit.
Nuggets at Lakers - 10:30 PM EST (TNT)
Denver made the series interesting with a Game 3 rout of Los Angeles at home, but the Lakers hit several big shots down the stretch to steal Game 4 at the Pepsi Center, 92-88. The Lakers cashed as 2 ½-point 'dogs, just their second cover in the last six tries when receiving points on the highway. Now, Los Angeles can shut the door on Denver with Oklahoma City waiting in the wings after the Thunder swept the Mavericks.
Neither team led by more than seven points in Game 4, which teetered back and forth in the second half. Ramon Sessions and Steve Blake each turned into unsung heroes by nailing consecutive three-pointers in the final minute, while six Lakers scored in double-figures. Kobe Bryant has struggled all season long at Pepsi Center, but the Lakers' star overcame a 10-for-25 shooting night to score a game-high 22 points. The Nuggets fell to 0-8 SU/ATS since January 3 when scoring 91 points or less, as the 'under' has improved to 3-1 in this series.
Denver owns a solid 6-1 ATS record the last seven games as a road team off a loss, while posting a 5-1 ATS ledger the previous six contests away from the Pepsi Center. The Lakers have cashed in just three of nine opportunities at home off a win, as Los Angeles goes for its eighth straight win when looking to advance to the next round (6-1 ATS).