I'm guessing that a sportsbook or two will offer a prop on the next coach of the Los Angeles Lakers because they did a couple of years ago before the team hired Byron Scott. He was informed late Sunday night that he wouldn't be brought back. Really no reason to keep him around now that Kobe Bryant is gone -- that was basically a keep Kobe happy hiring. It's still a prime job even though the Lakers just had their two worst seasons in franchise history. But if I'm a top head coach with interest, I wait until after the draft lottery and see if the Lakers get to keep their first-round pick. If the lottery went chalk, the Lakers would pick No. 2. But if they drop to fourth or worse, it goes to Philadelphia. The Lakers probably will go first after current Warriors assistant Luke Walton, a former Lakers player. He's a disciple of Phil Jackson, who is rumored to possibly return to the team in a year when girlfriend Jeanie Buss takes over the day-to-day running of it from her brother.
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Game 5: No. 7 Pacers at No. 2 Raptors (-7, 192)
All four games in this 2-2 series have been decided by double digits after Indiana's 100-83 home victory on Saturday. Congratulations if you had Pacers center Ian Mahinmi and guard George Hill combining for 44 points on excellent 18-for-25 shooting in that one because I sure didn't. They were the biggest reason for the result after neither did much in the first three games. Not sure you can count on that again if a Pacers backer -- Mahinmi's 22 points were a career high and he added 10 rebounds and five assists. Paul George added 19 points after scoring at least 25 in each of the first three games.
What's up with Toronto's All-Star backcourt of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan? The former was 4-for-12 from the field (0-for-5 from 3-point range) for just 12 points in Game 4 and the latter 4-for-15 (0-for-2 from long range) for eight points and six turnovers. DeRozan and Lowry are averaging 28.8 points combined during the postseason, compared to 44.7 during the regular season. They are shooting a combined 30.8 percent from the field, the worst field goal percentage by any starting backcourt this postseason. DeRozan hasn't gone to the charity stripe in two games this series after ranking third in the NBA in free throw attempts per game during the season. Defensively, Game 4 was only the eighth time Toronto has allowed an opponent to record 50 or more points in the paint this season. The Raptors responded by holding opponents to an average of 38.0 points in the paint in the next game.
Series line (BetOnline): Raptors -325, Pacers +270
Key trends: The Pacers are 2-7 against the spread in their past nine following a double-digit win. The Raptors are 5-0 ATS in their past five after a loss. The "over/under" has gone under in six straight Pacers games and five straight for Toronto.
Early lean: Raptors and under.
Game 5: No. 5 Celtics at No. 4 Hawks (-7, 199.5)
Much like the above series, this looks to me like one that will go the distance with the home team winning each game. Atlanta really should have put this away in Boston with the Celtics missing Avery Bradley. But Boston evened things up with a 104-95 overtime win on Sunday. Isaiah Thomas followed his 42-point Game 3 with 28 in Game 4. Frankly, I thought he should have been suspended for Game 4 after hitting Hawks guard Dennis Schroder in the face in Game 3. Thomas guarded Jeff Teague on the final play of regulation Sunday and prevented him from getting a shot off. Marcus Smart stepped up and scored 11 of his 20 points in the fourth quarter, helping Boston force overtime. Like Bradley, Smart is a great defender and he limited the Hawks to 1-of-10 shooting overall and forced two turnovers when serving as the primary defender on a guy.
Paul Millsap was brilliant in Game 4 for Atlanta with 45 points, 13 rebounds and four blocks. It was the most points scored by a Hawk in a playoff game since Dominique Wilkins had 47 points in Game 7 at the old Boston Garden in the 1988 Eastern Conference semifinals. Millsap had just 12 combined points in Games 2-3. Smart held Millsap to two baskets in the final nine minutes of regulation and none in overtime. The Hawks, who led by 16 in the third quarter, were 0-5 in OT in the regular season and have not won an overtime game in more than two years.
Series line (BetOnline): Hawks -225, Celtics +195
Key trends: The Celtics are 3-10 ATS in their past 13 road games. The Hawks are 0-5 ATS in their past five after a loss. The under is 13-3 in Boston's past 16 after a win. The under is 4-1 in Atlanta's past five at home.
Early lean: Hawks and under.
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Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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