NBA Betting: Tuesday Playoffs Preview
by Matt Severance - 05/05/2009
Atlanta Hawks at Cleveland Cavaliers, Game 1 (TNT)
We might have learned two things from Monday night's NBA playoff action, one which favors Atlanta in tonight's Game 1 against Cleveland and one which does not.
The one that bodes well for the Hawks was seeing the Lakers, who had been off for a week, get upset at home by a Houston team that was much more in rhythm with just three days off since their last game. (But you also have to factor in how sick Kobe Bryant apparently was on Monday night.) Atlanta just played Sunday, while Cleveland last played April 26.
The one that bodes well for the Cavs, as if they need any additional help after a 39-2 home record this season (28-13 ATS), was seeing Boston look terrible just 48 hours after completing a seven-game series, and that is what is facing Atlanta tonight.
That Atlanta is in the second round is an accomplishment for the franchise, not having advanced in the playoffs since 1999. Since the NBA went to a four-round format, the team has never advanced past Round 2, however. It's hard to imagine the Hawks winning in Cleveland tonight since Atlanta has exactly one road playoff win in the past 12 years, that coming in the last series against Miami. In the two other South Florida games, Atlanta didn't put up much of a challenge.
Thus the Cavs are 12-point Bodog favorites for Game 1.
The regular-season series between these two was 3-1 in favor of Cleveland, but the Hawks covered in three. And the Cavs led by at least 24 points in the two home wins. Atlanta probably should have swept the two games at home, blowing a five-point lead in the final 1:42 to lose the March 1 game by a point.
Overall, Atlanta has just two wins in the past 10 meetings with Cleveland, which has covered its past eight games this season after sweeping Detroit. In thumping the Pistons, the Cavs became the third team in NBA history to sweep a best-of-seven playoff series while winning each game by a double-digit margin.
LeBron James, the new MVP of the league, averaged 26.3 points in the regular season against Atlanta, while Hawks All-Star Joe Johnson averaged just 16.5 points against Cleveland and struggled in most of the Heat series before breaking out in Game 7.
Atlanta's Marvin Williams, who played just five minutes in the final five games against the Heat due to a wrist injury, will play tonight and should get significant minutes. He won't start.
Dallas Mavericks at Denver Nuggets, Game 2 (TNT)
Denver's Kenyon Martin made a clear statement in Game 1 of this series, throwing Dallas star Dirk Nowitzki to the floor in the first quarter. You see, Dirk had made his first six shots to that point, so Martin made it clear that the Nuggets would be playing physical against the perceived soft Mavericks all series.
It seemed to work, as Dirk shot just 6-for-16 after the foul, which was called a technical during the game but upgraded to a flagrant foul on Monday. The flagrant foul is Martin's first of the postseason and puts one point in Martin's playoff "account." Players who exceed three points receive an automatic suspension for the next game after the three-point barrier is surpassed.
"I don't think we can play as physical as them. We don't have the personality for it," Nowitzki said in the wake of the 109-95 Game 1 loss.
Dallas has other problems too. No player other than Nowitzki had more than 15 points in Game 1. The Mavs shot 33.3 percent from three-point range and committed 20 turnovers (leading to 25 Denver points), including eight by point guard Jason Kidd.
"Look for us to be in attack mode from the start," Dallas sixth man Jason Terry said of Game 2.
Terry, the NBA's Sixth Man of the Year, had 15 points on 6-for-13 shooting, but his magic number is 20 points. When he scored 20 or more points during the regular season, Dallas won 67 percent of the time. He has yet to hit that mark in the postseason.
The Nuggets' Nene had his way inside in Game 1 with 24 points as Denver shot 55 percent overall and outscored Dallas 58-30 in the paint.
Denver has won 14 games in a row at home and is 8-1 ATS in the past nine overall meetings with Dallas.