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What bettors need to know: Monday's NBA playoff action
Philadelphia 76ers at Boston Celtics (-5.5, 174)
THE STORY: The series is now a best-of-3 as the Boston Celtics host the Philadelphia 76ers in Monday’s Game 5. Philadelphia evened the series at 2-2 by rallying from 18 points down in the third quarter to win Friday’s Game 4 and reignite talk of notching a second-round upset. The 76ers have recovered from double-digit deficits to win three times this postseason. Boston’s aging group has been up-and-down in the postseason with multiple key players battling injuries.
TV: 7 p.m. ET, TNT
ABOUT THE 76ERS: Reserve guard Lou Williams showed some life by averaging 14 points in the two games in Philadelphia, but he didn’t fare well in the earlier two games in Boston. Williams averaged 8.5 points and shot 29.2 percent in Boston. Veteran Andre Iguodala had 16 points in Game 4 and hit the go-ahead basket with 1:22 remaining in the 92-83 victory. Iguodala is averaging 14.5 points in the series. Post players Spencer Hawes (4.7 scoring average over the past three games) and Elton Brand (4.3 in the series) have been major disappointments as rookie Lavoy Allen (8.5 points, 6.5 rebounds) has been Philadelphia’s most reliable inside player.
ABOUT THE CELTICS: Forward Paul Pierce has put together back-to-back 24-point outings while playing on an injured left knee. Things aren’t going as well for injured guards Ray Allen (knee) and Avery Bradley (shoulder). Allen has just eight total points over the last two games after averaging 14.5 over the first two games. Bradley had his injured left shoulder pop out during Game 4 for the second time during the series and could require surgery after the playoffs ends. He is averaging just six points in the series. “Listen,” coach Doc Rivers said. “It’s a tough thing that he’s going through. A lot of players would not be playing.”
- 76ers are 8-3 ATS in the last 11 meetings.
- Celtics are 1-4 ATS in their last five home games.
- 76ers are 7-3 ATS in their last 10 road games.
1. Boston forward Kevin Garnett finally had a poor offensive game in Game 4, tallying just nine points on 3-for-12 shooting. Garnett was averaging 24.8 points in his previous four games.
2. Philadelphia’s bench outscored Boston 44-12 in Game 4.
3. Celtics point guard Rajon Rondo has reached double digits in assists in all four games and is averaging 14.8
Los Angeles Lakers at Oklahoma City Thunder (-8, 192)
THE STORY: There was plenty of blame to go around in Los Angeles after the Lakers blew a fourth-quarter lead to the Oklahoma City Thunder in Game 4 of their Western Conference second-round series. Kobe Bryant lashed out at his teammates for not being aggressive enough, pointing an accusatory finger at Spanish teammate Pau Gasol. The Thunder are on a high following their stunning comeback and are a win away from returning to the Western Conference finals.
TV: 9:30 p.m. ET, TNT
ABOUT THE LAKERS: Bryant scored 38 points in the Game 4 defeat at the Staples Center but shot just 2 for 10 in the final quarter - a development he based on having to take tougher shots with his teammates unwilling to help out. "They were tough looks," Bryant said. "So either we have to free myself up to get better looks in the fourth quarter or other guys have to be aggressive, one or the other." Gasol said he did pass up an open look late - on a play where he threw a pass to Thunder superstar Kevin Durant for the go-ahead 3-pointer - but that he didn't have any other clean shot the rest of the quarter.
ABOUT THE THUNDER: Durant received plenty of attention for knocking down the winning shot over an outstretched Metta World Peace with 13.7 seconds remaining, but head coach Scott Brooks was more impressed with Durant's defense down the stretch. Backup point guard Derek Fisher, a longtime Laker, marveled at the two-way player Durant has become this postseason. "That's who Kevin is," Fisher said. "He's one of those special players that we get the privilege of seeing come through our league." Durant finished with 31 points while teammate Russell Westbrook added 37.
- Favorite is 9-4-1 ATS in the last 14 meetings.
- Over is 13-6 in the Lakers' last 19 road games.
- Lakers are 2-5 ATS in their last seven games as an underdog.
1. Gasol finished without a point or a rebound in the fourth quarter of Game 4.
2. The Lakers finally showed some life on the fast break, finishing with 15 points in Game 4 after registering just 12 in the first three games of the series.
3. Los Angeles hauled in 18 offensive rebounds in Game 4, led by Andrew Bynum with five.
Los Angeles Angels at Oakland Athletics – 10 mph winds are expected to blow out to right-centerfield.
NBA: 76ers are 7-3 ATS in their last 10 road games.
NBA: The over is 7-1 in Thunder last eight games as a favorite.
NHL: Devils are 8-2 in their last 10 home games.
MLB: Nationals are 7-1 in their last eight meetings with Philadelphia.
NBA: Celtics are 1-4 ATS in their last five games overall.
NBA: Lakers are 7-17-1 ATS in their last 25 games playing on one day of rest.
NHL: Rangers are 1-4 in their last five games following a win.
MLB: Mariners are 1-4 in Felix Hernandez’s last five home starts.
85.1 – The Oklahoma City Thunder lead the NBA postseason in hitting 85.1 percent of their free throws after also pacing the Association in the regular season, hitting 80.6 percent of its attempts. The Thunder hit 84 percent of their shots from the line in Game 4’s win over the Lakers, while Los Angeles hit only 72.4 percent of its attempts.
Injury that shouldn’t be overlooked
Lance Berkman, St. Louis Cardinals – Berkman appears to be heading back to the disabled list. He just returned from a calf injury on May 13 after missing 21 games and is now ailing with a knee injury that he suffered Saturday. Berkman is hitting .333 but has played only 13 games this year.
Game of the day
Philadelphia 76ers at Boston Celtics (-5.5, 174)
"I really don't blame it on the offense. If you look at it, defensively, we gave up 28 and 33 points in the third and fourth quarters. Regardless if we score  and 20 points, our defense should be able to win the game. Our defense didn't come through. We weren't rebounding the ball, we didn't play at a high level in the second half. We allowed them to get into rhythm, gave them free throws, gave up the 3, and then turned the ball over." – Boston Celtics forward Paul Pierce about Game 4’s 92-83 loss to Philadelphia. The Celtics are 1-3 against the spread in the series heading into Monday’s Game 5.
Notes and tips
Aroldis Chapman got his first opportunity as the Cincinnati Reds' new closer and earned his first save of the season Sunday as the Reds finished off a comeback win over the New York Yankees. Before the game, Reds manager Dusty Baker said Chapman was his "No. 1 candidate" to become the closer, replacing Sean Marshall, who allowed two runs on four hits in the ninth inning of Saturday's win. But Baker said he wouldn't use Chapman on Sunday because the pitcher had thrown Saturday and three out of the past four days.That changed shortly before the game, when Baker said he checked in with Chapman, who told him he would be fine to pitch. Chapman has a whopping 39 strikeouts in 22 1/3 innings.
The New York Rangers will be without forward Brandon Prust for Monday’s contest against the New Jersey Devils after he was suspended for one game for elbowing Anton Volchenkov Saturday. Prust has one assist and 27 penalty minutes in 17 playoff games. The Rangers, set as +110 underdogs Monday, have yet to announce who will fill his spot in the lineup.
Toronto Blue Jays third baseman Brett Lawrie is eligible to return from his four-game suspension Monday against Tampa Bay. Lawrie was suspended following an altercation with umpire Bill Miller last week. The 22-year-old is hitting .281 with three home runs, 17 RBI and six stolen bases.
Los Angeles Lakers star Kobe Bryant seemed to be calling out teammate Pau Gasol when Bryant suggested after the Lakers' Game 3 loss to the Thunder on Saturday that Gasol needs to be more assertive and made a poor decision at critical part of the game. "Pau's got to be more assertive," Bryant said, according to ESPN.com. "He's the guy out there that we need. When he's getting the ball he's looking to pass. He's got to be aggressive. He's got to shoot the ball. He's got to drive the ball to the basket and he will in the next game." Gasol didn't take a single shot from the field in the fourth quarter, and he passed up a shot with 33.9 seconds left and the game tied. Instead he threw a pass that was intercepted by Kevin Durant that helped the Thunder take a 3-1 series lead.