NBA Betting: Cleveland-Orlando Game 1 Props
by Matt Severance - 05/20/2009
The Orlando Magic have lived and died by the three-point shot all season, including playoffs, but they might have some issues with that strategy in the Eastern Conference Finals against the Cleveland Cavaliers.
The Cavs not only gave up the fewest points per game in the league, but they also led the NBA in defending the three-point shot. In the regular season the Magic averaged 10 successful three-pointers per game on slightly more than 26 attempts. In the playoffs, they are down to 7.8 made three-pointers per game, with the shooting percentage down about 3.5 percent.
First off, Orlando has decided to go back to Courtney Lee as its starting shooting guard. He replaces J.J. Redick, who is a much better three-point shooter than is Lee. In addition, Lee is a much better defender and will be locked in on Delonte West, the Cavs' third-leading scorer. Having Lee on him should limit West's effectiveness some, including from behind the arc.
Secondly, the Cavs know how the Magic are going to attack, and Cleveland hasn't been a big three-point shooting team in the playoffs - although a big part of that might be that the Cavs are always ahead by double digits. Still, 15 ½ seems out of reach, at least until Orlando returns home, where it usually shoots from long distance much more accurately.
An interesting prop bet on BetED is the total number of points and rebounds in Game 1 between Dwight Howard and LeBron James, with Howard getting + 5½ (it's 7 ½ at a few other sites). James had 43 points in the Cavs' March win over the Magic and was held to 23 and 26 points in their two losses. But you have to assume LeBron is good for 30 points and at least eight rebounds (his rebounding average is up to nearly 10 in the playoffs) tonight.
Obviously Howard can't match LeBron for points, not even close, so he'd have to make it up in rebounding. But if you take Howard's postseason averages of points and rebounds, it totals only 36.2. LeBron's average is nearly 43, with Howard exceeding that total four times in these playoffs and just once against the Celtics.
The Magic say they are determined to keep LeBron shooting jumpers and not getting into the lane, and in someone like Howard they do have an inside deterrent that neither the Pistons nor Hawks had against Cleveland in these playoffs.
Meanwhile, it will be interesting to see whether the Magic lead after the first quarter tonight as they did in five of the seven games against Boston. I might recommend the BetED prop bet tonight that the team leading after the first quarter won't win, which gets +160. Perhaps Orlando gets out to another good start, especially with the Cavs likely rusty from all that time off, but does anyone expect the Magic to actually steal Game 1 at Quicken Loans Arena, where the Cavaliers are 43-2 this year (32-13 ATS)?
It's not impossible: The Magic have won eight of the past 11 meetings with the Cavs and are 3-1 in their last four games in Cleveland; this year's loss there came down to the wire.