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What bettors need to know: Monday's NBA playoff action
Philadelphia 76ers at Boston Celtics (-4, 173.5)
THE STORY: The Boston Celtics escaped in the opener and are looking to take a 2-0 lead when they host the Philadelphia 76ers in Monday’s Eastern Conference second-round series. Boston trailed most of Game 1 and had to overcome a 10-point fourth-quarter deficit to record a 92-91 victory. The 76ers would like to tie the series before it shifts to Philadelphia for Games 3 and 4 after winning both home games against Boston in the regular season.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, TNT
ABOUT THE 76ERS: Philadelphia led most of Game 1 before being outplayed over the last 11 minutes. The fourth quarter meltdown included costly turnovers and poor shot selection and the outcome qualifies as a major missed opportunity for the underdog 76ers. Coach Doug Collins promised there won’t be a carryover effect. “If you’ve watched us all season, we’re not going to drop our heads,” Collins said. “We live to come back and fight just as hard in Game 2, at least as long as I’m the coach.” Andre Iguodala had a team-best 19 points but stellar Sixth Man Lou Williams struggled with just nine points on 4-of-11 shooting.
ABOUT THE CELTICS: Forward Kevin Garnett had 29 points and 11 rebounds in Game 1 to follow up a superb effort (28 points, 14 rebounds and five blocked shots) in the decisive contest in the Atlanta series. Garnett twice scored 20 points in three regular-season matchups against Philadelphia. Forward Paul Pierce struggled with just 14 points on 3-of-11 shooting as he continues to battle through a knee injury. “It really doesn’t bother me when I walk around or I jump straight up,” Pierce said. “It’s more if I turn the knee in a certain position – it sort of re-aggravates it.”
- 76ers are 6-2 ATS in the last eight meetings.
- Celtics are 11-5-1 ATS in their last 17 home games.
- Under is 4-1 in 76ers' last five overall.
1. Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo notched his eighth career triple-double in the opener with 13 points, 12 rebounds and 17 assists.
2. Philadelphia center Spencer Hawes is averaging 15.4 points and 9.8 rebounds over the last five postseason games.
3. Boston made just two of 18 3-point shots in the opener with guard Ray Allen (2 of 7) the only player to connect from behind the arc.
Los Angeles Lakers at Oklahoma City Thunder (-7.5, 191.5)
SERIES ODDS: Lakers +379, Thunder -442
THE STORY: The Los Angeles Lakers and Oklahoma City Thunder have already engaged in off-court drama as they prepare for the opener of their Western Conference semifinal series Monday night at the Chesapeake Energy Arena. The teams took vastly different paths to reach the second round, with the Lakers outlasting the plucky Denver Nuggets in seven games and the Thunder enjoying plenty of rest after ousting the defending-champion Dallas Mavericks in four straight.
TV: 9:30 p.m. ET, TNT
ABOUT THE LAKERS: Leave it to the guy named World Peace to lob the first grenade in what should be a tension-filled series. Metta World Peace says he doesn't plan to shake hands with Thunder guard James Harden, who was felled by a vicious World Peace elbow in their previous regular-season encounter. The incident led to a lengthy suspension for World Peace, who was only eligible to return for Game 7 against the Nuggets. "I don't shake substitutes' hands," he said following the Lakers' series-clinching victory, while also suggesting that Harden may have embellished the contact.
ABOUT THE THUNDER: Oklahoma City may have been young and wide-eyed in last year's postseason, but the team looks to be all business this time around. Led by three-time NBA scoring champion Kevin Durant and sensational point guard Russell Westbrook, the Thunder rolled past the Mavericks in a rematch of last year's Western Conference finals. It was the first series sweep for the franchise since 1996, when the Seattle Supersonics easily handled the defending-champion Houston Rockets. Monday's opener will mark eight days since Oklahoma City last took the court.
- Lakers are 2-5 ATS in the last seven meetings in Oklahoma City.
- The over is 5-0 in Thunder last five games as a favorite.
- The Thunder are 1-4 ATS in their last five playoff games as a favorite.
1. Thunder C Kendrick Perkins (hip) participated in a pre-practice shooting session Saturday but remains a game-time decision for the opener.
2. Oklahoma City won two of three regular-season meetings. The Lakers won their most recent encounter, escaping with a 114-106 overtime win April 22.
3. Durant averages 25.5 points, 5.7 rebounds and 3.3 assists in 17 career games against the Lakers.
Monday's betting tips: Matt Kemp strains hamstring again
NBA: Celtics are 11-5-1 ATS in their last 17 home games.
NBA: Over is 5-0 in Thunder last five games as a favorite.
NHL: Rangers are 41-20 in their last 61 games as a favorite.
MLB: Marlins are 10-2 in their last 12 overall.
NBA: The under is 2-8 in the 76ers' last 10 road games.
NBA: The Lakers are 2-5 ATS in their last seven games in Oklahoma City.
NHL: Devils are 2-5 in the last seven meetings in New York.
MLB: Cubs are 2-12 in Ryan Dempster's last 14 starts.
15 – The New Jersey Devils’ balanced scoring helped them cruise into the Eastern Conference Finals. The Devils have had 15 different goal scorers in their 12 playoff games and have been resting since ousting the Philadelphia Flyers on May 8.
Injury that shouldn’t be overlooked
Erik Bedard, Pittsburgh Pirates – Bedard will miss Monday’s scheduled start with back spasms after leaving last week’s start against Washington after just one inning. Bedard will be replaced by Brad Lincoln, who makes his first start of the season against the Marlins.
Game of the day
Los Angeles Lakers at Oklahoma City Thunder (-7.5, 171.5)
"This is a difficult matchup for us -- probably in some ways more so (than Chicago) because they have more athleticism. The athleticism is what's bothered us in the past. They have speed and athleticism and youth. That has been just as deadly for us." – Boston Celtics coach Doc Rivers said of their matchup with the 76ers.
Notes and tips
Los Angeles Dodgers slugger Matt Kemp left Sunday’s game with tightness in his left hamstring, the same injury that had him bow out of a contest last week as well. His status for Monday’s game against Arizona is uncertain. Kemp has played in 399 consecutive games, but the hamstring continues to give him problems. After setting the Dodgers franchise record for home runs in April, Kemp is yet to hit one in May. Kemp is hitting .359 with 12 homers and 28 RBIs.
Oakland Athletics manager Bob Melvin has named left-hander Brian Fuentes as his closer on Saturday. "We're closing with Fuentes for now," Melvin said after Saturday's game. "I didn't announce that, but that's the position that we're in right now. We're giving (Grant Balfour) a little bit of a break, and we're going to close with Fuentes for the foreseeable future." Balfour was named the closer entering the season. He has converted seven of his nine save chances, but has a 4.41 ERA in 16 1/3 innings. Fuentes, who saved Saturday's 3-1 victory over Detroit, has two saves in 14 innings this season with a 3.86 ERA. Fuentes, who has previously been the closer for Colorado and the Los Angeles Angles, earned this 200th career save on May 2.
The Los Angeles Lakers’ 96-87 victory Saturday night over the Denver Nuggets in Game 7 of their first-round series allowed the Lakers to advance. But the Lakers face a quick turnaround before Game 1 against Oklahoma City at Chesapeake Energy Arena on Monday night. "We've got one day to rest," Lakers center Andrew Bynum said. "We're going to get it done and be ready to play those guys." The Lakers went 1-2 against Oklahoma City in the regular season, the victory coming April 22 in a controversial game. Lakers forward Metta World Peace was suspended seven games by the NBA for elbowing Oklahoma City's James Harden in that game, and World Peace just came off suspension Saturday night in Game 7 vs. Denver.
The Lakers look to take advantage of an OKC team that is 0-5 ATS in its last 5 games as a home favorite of 5 to 10 1/2 points. LA is the pick (+7 1/2) according to Dunkel, which has the Thunder favored by only 5 1/2. Dunkel Pick: LA Lakers (+7 1/2). Here are all of today's picks
Game 509-510: Philadelphia at Boston (7:00 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: Philadelphia 120.718; Boston 129.828
Dunkel Line & Total: Boston by 9; 171
Vegas Line & Total: Boston by 4; 174
Dunkel Pick: Boston (-4); Under
Game 507-508: LA Lakers at Oklahoma City (9:30 p.m. EST)
Dunkel Ratings: LA Lakers 120.389; Oklahoma City 126.053
Dunkel Line & Total: Oklahoma City by 5 1/2; 187
Vegas Line & Total: Oklahoma City 7 1/2; 191 1/2
Dunkel Pick: LA Lakers (+7 1/2); Under