by Jordan Adams - 05/18/2006
It was May 9, not two weeks ago, when the Detroit Pistons had a 2-0 vice grip on their second round series with the young Cleveland Cavs. Now nine days later, the two teams await game six on Friday, but it is the Pistons who are on the brink of elimination from the 2006 NBA Playoffs.
After suffering two extremely one-sided losses in Detroit in games one and two, the Cavs headed back to Cleveland and took advantage of what they had done so well in the regular season: win on their home court.
Cleveland's big game five win in Detroit was the most impressive road win of any team at any point this season. Cleveland has shown great moxy and despite their inexperience, put the Pistons in a very precarious spot: a win or go home road game.
Coming into this series, all the talk was about the Pistons' fab five and how they would dictate the tempo to the Cavaliers. Well, LeBron James is the one dictating the series now. King James has held court these past three games and has been unmistakably the best player in the 2006 NBA Playoffs. While his individual talent sits on a royal pedestal unreachable for anyone else, it is his all-around game that has raised the play of his teammates and inspired great production from the bench and key role players.
Greg Jorssen of Bodog spoke highly of the impact of the home court advantage in this series and a main reason for the respect the two teams received in their respective spreads at home. It was the Pistons who were giving double-digit points in each of their first two games. Then once the series headed to Cleveland after the Cavs got smoked and fell down 2-0, Cleveland still received great respect at home and was labeled as small home dogs.
"The first two games were in Detroit and they are great at home (42 - 5) and home court advantage was also a major cause for the big spread," he said. "When the series went back to Cleveland, the Cavs' 35 - 11 record at home explained why the spreads were so low. Home court advantage was supposed to be a big factor in this series."
Bodog spokesman Jorssen also brought to light the betting trend throughout the course of this series. After Cleveland took both game three and four at home, would bettors jump ship to the Cavs seeing the momentum of the series swing drastically? Or would they stick with Detroit seeing the spreads drop favorably to their side?
Jorssen admitted that Detroit has been the favorite all along. "Our players' have leaned towards Detroit as the small favorite. We (Bodog) haven't needed Cleveland once this series and our biggest decisions are when the game is in Cleveland and Detroit is a small favorite."
It will be very interesting to see the betting trend in game six. While Cleveland will be at home in favorable circumstances to close out a remarkable series victory, the bookies have installed the Pistons as 5.5-point favorites. Despite Cleveland winning the past three games of the series, the oddsmakers still think the public money will come in on Detroit. The Pistons have been the best team all year long and until they lose four games in a series, your money should ride with them.
Regardless of the spread in game six, the outcome is more important. If the Pistons can manage to get back to Detroit for a deciding game seven, what factors would be taken into consideration for the spread?
>From Greg Jorssen's perspective, the biggest factor would be the score of game six. He has noticed that the oddsmakers have underestimated how good the Cleveland Cavaliers are. He predicts that if, in fact, the Pistons reach a game seven and the score in game six isn't anything abnormal, the line should be close to Detroit -8.5.
The views expressed in this article are not necessarily those of Doc's NBA picks service.