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Submitted by Jim Hurley on Thursday, May 3, 2012 at 8:55 PM

As promised, Friday may be the first truly IMPORTANT night in the NBA playoffs. There haven’t been many surprises yet in the first round. But, the ramifications of a possible big surprise are apparent in the Chicago-Philadelphia series…as those teams play a pivotal Game Three this evening. Boston and Atlanta are also split at one game apiece, with tonight’s winner arguably taking firm control of the series. Rounding out the tripleheader, the Denver Nuggets try to draw first blood from their “rope-a-dope” fast break tactics against a Lakers team that was starting to look a little tired late in Game Two.

We’ll take the games in schedule order. Let’s crunch some numbers!



Game Three Vegas Line: Boston by 8, total of 173.5

Series tied 1-1

Wow…that’s a big spread for a 4-5 series! Rajon Rondo is back after a one-game suspension. And, the general theory amongst Vegas insiders is that Boston is now the second-best team in the East since the Rose injury for Chicago. What you see above is a price in line with that way of thinking. Let’s not forget though that Rondo played in Game One on the road…and Boston couldn’t even win Game One.




Field Goal Pct: Boston 43%, Atlanta 35%

Three-Pointers: Boston 3/14, Atlanta 6/22

Free Throws: Boston 26/31, Atlanta 16/20

Rebounds: Boston 45, Atlanta 40

Turnovers: Boston 14, Atlanta 11

Vegas Line: Atlanta by 4, total of 172

Boston’s defense was the first key here, as they held Atlanta to 35% shooting and shut down the Hawks when the game was on the line down the stretch. The second key was free throw shooting. Boston kept attacking the basket (most notably Paul Pierce), and ended up +10 from the line in a game they only won by seven. It’s pretty amazing that Boston is a horrible 3 of 25 on three-pointers so far in a series they now “lead” because they have home court advantage the rest of the way. If they start making treys, they should be able to coast to the second round. That being said, nobody’s stepping up with fresh legs and nailing anything from long range. Ray Allen may be out for the series. Boston may have to grind inside the arc every game because there are no sure things deep.

If you prefer “bounce back” teams, then Atlanta is going to make a lot of sense here at +8. If you like taking teams in “first home” spots, then Boston gets that nod even if this isn’t a very friendly price. JIM HURLEY has crunched all the numbers. He’ll find an edge for you here. Keep in mind that the edge maybe on a total rather than a team side. The first two games have stayed Under by 22 and 5 points. Has the Vegas number come down to low? 



Game Three Vegas Line: Philadelphia by 2, total of 179.5

Series Tied 1-1

Chicago definitely would have been a road favorite here if Rose were in the lineup. And, the game probably would have been near pick-em even without him if the Bulls had maintained their second quarter edge from Game Two all night. But, you know that didn’t happen. You know that Chicago collapsed on both sides of the ball while Philadelphia lit up the scoreboard and totally disrupted the Bulls passing game. What a volatile situation we have here. If the Bulls get their legs back, they should be the favorite. The discombobulated team we saw the other night would have trouble staying within 8-10 points. Philly has established this year that they can dominate teams who don’t know what they’re doing.




Field Goal Pct: Philadelphia 59%, Chicago 45%

Three-Pointers: Philadelphia 5/12, Chicago 6/14

Free Throws: Philadelphia 12/15, Chicago 10/18

Rebounds: Philadelphia 38, Chicago 32

Turnovers: Philadelphia 7, Chicago 8

Vegas Line: Chicago by 6.5, total of 176

Wow, 59% shooting against the Chicago defense. It’s hard to know what that means. Yes, some of that was shooting over their heads. But, Philly did consistently get themselves good shots…and they dominated the fast break stats. No team is ever as bad as they look in their worst game. There are certainly some question marks now about the Bulls that weren’t there at tip off of Game Two. Where was Luol Deng? Where was Carlos Boozer? You don’t beat real teams with Joakim Noah as your main inside scoring threat! JIM HURLEY has been working very closely with his Chicago sources because the Bulls mindset will determine everything here. This will be at least a six-point cover in either direction depending on what those guys are reporting. Vegas has “split the difference” amongst the volatile outcomes. NETWORK is confident they know which way it’s going to go!



Game Three Vegas Line: Denver by 4, total of 204

Los Angeles leads 2-0

Denver has the strongest home court in the NBA, and is certainly getting credit for it with that high price. Do they deserve that much respect in the line? You really have to focus in on a few keys to make that case. This has been an up-tempo series. The Lakers don’t have much of a bench. And, Game Three is typically a peak outing for a series underdog in their home opener. If you ONLY look at those things, this line is justifiable. The more of that talent goes into the equation, the tougher it is to swallow.




Field Goal Pct: Denver 44%, Lakers 45%

Three-Pointers: Denver 4/19, Lakers 2/15

Free Throws: Denver 16/22, Lakers 16/21

Rebounds: Denver 52, Lakers 48

Turnovers: Denver 13, Lakers 10

Vegas Line: Los Angeles by 5, total of 200

On the one hand, Denver got close at the end at covered the spread. On the other, the Lakers won despite shooting just 2 of 15 on treys. That’s probably a low point for the series. They hit six in the first game. If you pencil in six here, then Game Two looks very much like Game One in terms of victory margin. It’s tempting to say that Denver can’t just sit there and hope the Lakers keep missing treys. But, missing treys can be a sign of fatigue. That’s what George Karl is hoping for with his “run them down, wear them out” strategy. We’ll see if it works. It can’t hurt Denver that there was only one night off between games. 

The very best Vegas betting options from tonight’s TV TRIPLE CROWN will be available Friday afternoon right here at this website. Make a few clicks and have your credit card handy.

If you have any questions about multi-sport packages or seasonal service,call our office at 1-800-323-4453. Don’t forget that THE KENTUCKY DERBY goes this Saturday! Be sure to ask about our weekend specials. JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK has more horse racing customers than most places have sports customers. As is the case every May, we have special packages for the big race…for the full day at the races at Churchill Downs…and for the full Triple Crown extravaganza that also includes the Preakness and the Belmont. Even if you don’t follow horse racing on a regular basis, you can head straight to the winner’s circle thanks to JIM HURLEY!

That wraps up Friday’s previews. Back with you Saturday to preview another weekend Grand Slam:

Indiana at Orlando on ESPN

Memphis at LA Clippers on ESPN

Oklahoma City at Dallas on TNT

San Antonio at Utah on TNT

The NBA playoff coverage is so intense right now that we don’t have time to talk much baseball here in the NOTEBOOK. Remember that BIG, JUICY WINNERS are available in the bases here at the website. Series of interest for us this weekend include: Philadelphia at Washington, Chicago White Sox at Detroit, and Baltimore at Boston.  Are the Orioles for real? You know our seamheads have some thoughts about that!

A huge sports weekend starts TONIGHT. Make sure you GET THE MONEY with JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK!

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