NBA Betting: Wednesday Playoffs Preview
by Matt Severance - 04/29/2009
Miami Heat at Atlanta Hawks, Game 5 (TNT)
The Atlanta Hawks broke a 12-year road playoff drought with a win in South Florida in Game 4 on Monday night, and now Atlanta is back in control of this series despite it being deadlocked at two games apiece.
The Hawks are 5.5-point favorites for tonight's game on Bodog, and that number might be low considering the injury woes of the Heat.
For sure out for Miami tonight and for the remainder of the playoffs is Jamario Moon, who has been the starting small forward since coming over with Jermaine O'Neal in the Shawn Marion trade. But Moon has a sports hernia and will undergo surgery on Thursday. Moon missed the final four games of the regular season with a groin strain but returned to play in the first three games of this series. Yet it was clear he was affected, averaging just over 13 minutes in the series with just 12 points.
Certainly of more concern for Miami is Dwyane Wade's back. He played through severe back spasms in Game 4 but missed practice Tuesday as he received treatment all day. Wade was just 9-of-26 from the field and 1-of-8 from three-point range in Game 4, needing help from teammates to just get off the bench.
The MVP candidate says he will play tonight but pretty much acknowledged he won't be 100 percent: "I'm a little down. I'll be ready. If it's 100 percent or 35 percent, I'll be ready.''
It's not like Miami has much of a bench to make up for Moon or potentially Wade. The Hawks' bench outscored Miami's reserves 25-2 in Game 4.
There number to watch tonight is rebounds. The team that has held the rebounding advantage has won every game. In fact, in the two games that Miami has been outrebounded, the Heat have totaled just 135 points. The over/under tonight is 179, and the under has hit in eight of the past nine meetings.
New Orleans Hornets at Denver Nuggets, Game 5 (TNT)
The New Orleans Hornets probably face a major shake-up of their once up-and-coming team if the Hornets lay an egg tonight with their season on the line following Game 4's inexplicable 58-point home loss, tying the largest playoff differential in NBA history.
New Orleans scored only 24 points in the second half of Game 4, tying for the third fewest in the second half of a playoff game in NBA history. While Denver had seven players score in double digits, Hornets All-Star point guard Chris Paul was simply awful with just four points and six assists as he was outplayed by Denver's Chauncey Billups for the third time in this series.
Paul says he's healthy, but the New Orleans media is reporting he has a banged-up knee. Nuggets coach George Karl doesn't think Paul is healthy, either.
"I'm pretty sure Chris Paul is not 100 percent," Karl said. "He doesn't have that slippery quickness he usually has."
In the four regular-season meetings between Denver and New Orleans, Paul had 20 turnovers. In the first four games of this playoff series, Paul has 21 turnovers. The Hornets have turned over the ball 70 times in the postseason, and Denver has converted those into 105 points.
Paul certainly is not the only Hornet to blame. Center Tyson Chandler, who might be shipped out this offseason as he nearly was before the trade deadline, is obviously still having issues with his ankle. Chandler has committed a team-high 17 personal fouls and is averaging only 3.8 points and 5.3 rebounds. He was scoreless in Game 4.
The Nuggets are 11-point Bodog favorites tonight at home, where they won the first two games by 29 and 25 points, respectively. New Orleans is 15th among the 16 playoff teams in scoring in this postseason and also 15th in points allowed.
The Hornets have lost five straight playoff games overall and are 0-7 ATS in their past seven as a playoff dog of 5.0-11 points, so this series should end tonight.