NBA Betting: Monday Playoffs Preview
by Matt Severance - 05/04/2009
Orlando Magic at Boston Celtics, Game 1 (TNT)
It will be interesting to see how much the Celtics have in their tanks tonight after basically playing an eight-game first-round series against the Chicago Bulls, one that didn't end until late Saturday night.
Yet Boston is a three-point Bodog favorite for Game 1 over Orlando, which has been off since eliminating the 76ers without Dwight Howard and Courtney Lee last Thursday.
Howard will be in the lineup tonight after that one-game suspension, but Lee will not. The rookie starting shooting guard didn't travel to Boston as he recovers from surgery on his fractured sinus. He for sure won't play in the first two games and may not make it back at all. Orlando coach Stan Van Gundy said it would be a "bonus" if Lee were to play at all this series.
Lee, one of the team's better athletes, would have been the primary defender on Boston's Ray Allen. Now J.J. Redick is expected to start again for Orlando. He had had 15 points in the Game 6 finale in Philly, and while Redick can be a great shooter his defense leaves much to be desired. So look for Mickael Pietrus to get plenty of time on Allen as well.
Boston did not practice on Sunday following that epic Bulls series and will work on the Magic only in a shootaround before the game Monday.
Orlando also is game-planning for Kevin Garnett just in case KG somehow manages to return from injury this series.
These teams split four meetings this season. Boston took the first two by double digits, easily covering. Orlando won the last two, but Garnett played just 16 minutes in one of those games. The Celtics held the Magic to 84.5 points during the season series - 16.5 points below their average.
Not having KG and Leon Powe will really show in this series, with Howard a much bigger force inside than anyone the Bulls had. That 5/1 listing on Bodog on Orlando winning in seven games looks nice.
Houston Rockets at Los Angeles Lakers, Game 1 (TNT)
The big news heading into Game 1 of this series is that Kobe Bryant missed practice Sunday with a sore throat. But does anyone truly believe Kobe won't play in Game 1 against Houston tonight? Oddsmakers sure don't, as L.A. is an 8.5-point favorite on Bodog.
In fact, there could be major bad news for Houston tonight as Kobe might be very motivated after it becomes official that LeBron James is crowned Monday as the NBA MVP, taking that trophy away from Bryant. That's exactly the kind of thing that motivates Kobe to blow up in a game.
Kobe averaged 28.3 points in four games against Houston this season, all Laker wins (4-0 ATS). However, after three quarters in those games, the Lakers led by an average of just 1.25 points. Bodog lists Bryant's over/under average for this series at 27.5, but Kobe seems to thrive in facing Houston's Ron Artest, as the two usually do some major trash talking.
If there's one concern for the Lakers, who finished off Utah last Monday, it's that center Andrew Bynum averaged only five points, three rebounds and 15.4 minutes against the Jazz. He was replaced in the final two games in the starting lineup by Lamar Odom, but L.A. coach Phil Jackson said it was "90 percent" that Bynum would get the start tonight.
Los Angeles probably will be without Luke Walton tonight. The key reserve suffered a torn ligament in his left foot April 25.
Meanwhile, Houston has the typical bumps and bruises, with Yao Ming sitting out practice Sunday with a sprained ankle. But he said that was just a precaution and that he would be good to go tonight.
The Rockets were 5-8 in games decided by three or fewer points in the regular season but went 2-0 in Round 1 against the Blazers, whom they eliminated last Thursday. Houston is just 1-5 ATS in its past six at L.A.