NBA Betting: Monday Playoffs Preview
by Matt Severance - 05/11/2009
Cleveland Cavaliers at Atlanta Hawks, Game 4 (TNT)
Any chance this series doesn't end tonight? Not much. This stat, courtesy of Covers.com: Since the NBA changed the first round to a best of seven six years ago, teams with a 3-0 lead have finished off the sweep 15 of 18 times and are 12-5-1 against the spread.
The Cavs are -10.5 on Bodog for tonight's game in Atlanta, and all Cleveland has done is covered 11 games in a row, which is rather unheard of. The Cavs also have won all seven playoff games by double digits, which is ridiculous, and, yes, a record.
The Hawks haven't been much competition, not yet scoring more than 85 points. If there's good news it's that three of Atlanta's starters, Joe Johnson, Al Horford and Marvin Williams, will play tonight through various injuries. But Hawks coach Mike Woodson admits none of them is 100 percent and that all three probably would be sitting if it were a regular-season game.
"Hopefully, we'll play with a little fire and not let them close it out on our home court. But I don't know," Johnson said.
Not exactly a ringing endorsement.
LeBron James, coming off a 47-point effort in Game 3, is averaging 36 points a game in this series and leads all players in playoff scoring with a 33.7-point average. That's more than double the average of Atlanta's top two scorers, Johnson and Josh Smith.
In Game 3, James joined Michael Jordan as the only player in history to have more than 45 points (47), 10 rebounds (12) and eight assists in a postseason game. LeBron is shooting 63 percent from the field if you don't count three-pointers.
The Cavs are 2-0 in Game 4 potential sweeps of the opponent in the past three seasons.
Denver Nuggets at Dallas Mavericks, Game 4 (TNT)
Speaking of sweeps, the Nuggets, the most impressive team in these playoffs not residing in Ohio, can finish off Dallas tonight as well.
It would seem that Denver would advance to the conference finals tonight - for the first time since 1985 - since the Nuggets are 7-0 against Dallas this season. Denver also is the only team to win in Dallas since the middle of February and the Nuggets have done it twice.
But oddsmakers at Bodog have a little faith in the Mavs, as they are 1.5-point favorites.
Saturday's one-point Denver win, thanks to Carmelo Anthony's game-winning three-pointer, was just the second game this postseason that Denver didn't win by double digits, and the Nugs have covered in every game.
"We know Game 4 is going to be harder than Game 3, especially after everything that's going on right now," Anthony said, referring to the controversial ending Saturday when an obvious Dallas foul that would have prevented Anthony from shooting was not called.
Anthony is averaging 26.3 points in the series. Of his 79 total points, 36 have come in the fourth quarter. Denver is 2-1 on the road this postseason after going 2-12 on the road in the playoffs from 2004-08.
Dallas was stellar in close games during the regular season, going 18-5 in games decided by five points or less. But after the one-point loss in Game 3, the Mavs are 0-4 in close games against the Nuggets this season.
No NBA team has ever blown a 3-0 series lead, with 52 of the 86 past series in that situation ending in Game 4. But Dallas has never been swept in a seven-game series.