Submitted by Jim Hurley on Monday, April 30, 2012 at 8:30 PM
Definitely a marquee night in pro basketball with the storied Boston Celtics trying to even up their series with the Atlanta Hawks…with the demoralized but resilient Chicago Bulls hoping to prove they can go the distance without Derrick Rose…and with Kobe Bryant of the Los Angeles Lakers continuing to increase the size of his footprint in the history books. Let’s review what happened in Game One from all of those series as we try to pick winners against the Las Vegas pointspread in Tuesday’s Game Two’s.
ATLANTA vs. BOSTON
Game Two Vegas Line: Atlanta by 4, total of 175
Atlanta leads 1-0
When we first went to press, there had been no announcement yet about the availability of Rajon Rondo. We can now confirm that he has been suspended for Game Two. Oddsmakers posted an initial number of Atlanta -3.5. Early money hit the Hawks and drove the line up by -4 as of our updated deadline. Be sure you monitor this number throughout the course of the day. The market is making a significant adjustment for the absence of Rondo. Atlanta was favored by 1.5 in the series opener, and the natural tendency is to hit the Game One loser in Game Two.
GAME ONE SUMMARY
ATLANTA 83, BOSTON 74
Field Goal Pct: Boston 39%, Atlanta 41%
Three-Pointers: Boston 0/11, Atlanta 7/20
Free Throws: Boston 10/13, Atlanta 14/21
Rebounds: Boston 41, Atlanta 50
Turnovers: Boston 6, Atlanta 13
Vegas Line: Atlanta by 1.5, total of 179
Neither team played well enough to win. Atlanta was fortunate that Boston missed all of their three-pointers, because that’s what kept this from being a home loss for the Hawks. Normally 41% shooting and 83 total points isn’t good enough for a first round playoff game. Atlanta did win rebounding impressively, but gave that back in the turnover department. The key here was very poor perimeter shooting from the Celtics, both outside and just inside the arc.
Our statheads were pointing toward a release on Boston in Game Two from the third quarter on in Sunday Night’s affair. But, the altercation between Rondo and an official put a halt to those plans. We’ll see how the news breaks, and how the line reacts to that news before making a final call. History says you’re supposed to play Boston here. We respect history, but we’re not glued to it either.
CHICAGO vs. PHILADELPHIA
Game Two Vegas Line: Chicago by 6.5, total of 176
Chicago leads 1-0
Chicago was favored by 8.5 points in the opener. The loss of Derrick Rose inspired a three-point move on the opener (oddsmakers posted Chicago by 5.5 at first), which has dropped to just a two-point move after Wise Guys and the public started betting. The Bulls were fine without Rose this year, posting an 18-9 record in the 27 games he missed, and a strong +8.2 point differential per 100 possessions when he wasn’t on the floor. Given how poorly Philadelphia played this year vs. quality opposition, it could turn out that NO adjustment was in order. We’ll see.
GAME ONE SUMMARY
CHICAGO 103, PHILADELPHIA 91
Field Goal Pct: Philadelphia 40%, Chicago 51%
Three-Pointers: Philadelphia 1/9, Chicago 6/14
Free Throws: Philadelphia 24/31, Chicago 17/24
Rebounds: Philadelphia 38, Chicago 47
Turnovers: Philadelphia 11, Chicago 18
Vegas Line: Chicago by 9, total of 175.5
Not quite a textbook win for the Bulls. The committed way too many turnovers, as Rose was still rusty after seeing such limited action in the past six weeks. And, it’s hard to put the Sixers on the free throw that many times because they usually don’t do a very good job of attacking the basket. Still, the Bulls led comfortably the whole way thanks to a much superior defense and better long range shooting. Chicago owned the boards. This was such a one-sided series going in that it’s hard to see the loss of Rose being a killer in the first round. It’s going to matter more in round two, and then the Eastern Finals if Chicago makes it that far.
We’ll have to think about the Under here because the pace is going to slow down without Rose, and the number of free throws is likely to go down too. We’ll check with our on-site sources regarding coaching strategy before making a final decision on the Over/Under.
LA LAKERS vs. DENVER
Game Two Vegas Line: Lakers by 4.5, total of 200
Lakers leads 1-0
The total dropped three points from where Vegas had the opener, as the Lakers defense really impressed in their 103-88 victory. It’s hard to see Denver exploding on the scoreboard unless they hit a lot of treys. The bigs of the Lakers are just too strong and long in the paint. The team side line hasn’t moved at all even though history says you’re supposed to consider any talented dog in a bounce back spot. The Lakers just get too much respect right now, and oddsmakers know the public will want to bet them at a line this low regardless of any historical trends. If you like following history, this is a good situation for the dog. If you think trading Nene killed Denver’s chances to be relevant in the playoffs this year, then you may end up riding the Lakers every game in this series.
GAME ONE SUMMARY
LA LAKERS 103, DENVER 88
Field Goal Pct: Denver 36%, Lakers 50%
Three-Pointers: Denver 4/14, Lakers 6/17
Free Throws: Denver 20/27, Lakers 11/15
Rebounds: Denver 46, Lakers 52
Turnovers: Denver 10, Lakers 11
Vegas Line: LA Lakers by 4.5, total of 203
We kept emphasizing during the Phil Jackson years that the Lakers were more of a defense and rebounding team than they were getting credit for. Now, under Mike Brown, they’re even MORE of a defense and rebounding team because that’s what he emphasizes. You can see that above, as the Lakers won the battle of the boards while holding Denver to a paltry 36% shooting.
Denver has some upside potential in treys, as a number like four just isn’t going to get you anywhere against the Lakers. But, the Nuggets can’t expect to win free throws by +9 on makes and +12 on attempts two games in a row on the road. Denver must improve on defense AND long range shooting at the same time, which is tough for many teams to do because long range shooters generally aren’t good defenders.
JIM HURLEY saw something in the fourth quarter Sunday afternoon that really caught his eye in terms of Game Two consequences. That has strongly influenced our Tuesday Night release here. You can purchase all Tuesday basketball at this website with your credit card Tuesday afternoon. Be sure you check on baseball too. There are no day games Tuesday, so you have plenty of time to take care of business.
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That wraps up Tuesday’s previews. Back with you Wednesday to preview this Tripleheader:
Utah at San Antonio on TNT
Indiana at Orlando on the NBA Network (Game Three of this series)
LA Clippers at Memphis on TNT
Yes, our first Game Three will arrive Wednesday Night, and everyone will have played at least two games by the completion of Wednesday action. Will the Spurs keep playing the best basketball in the league, or will they get caught napping? Can Memphis recover from the ultimate gut punch and even their series with the Clippers? Or, are hopes for the Year of the Grizzly already doomed? Numbers and notes tomorrow right here in the NOTEBOOK. Make sure you’re with us EVERY DAY so you know what’s REALLY happening in the world of sports.
And, link up with handicapping legend JIM HURLEY for the best basketball and baseball plays on the board!