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Thread: Cnotes 2017 NBA Best Bets-Trends-News Thru Playoffs !

  1. #1701  
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    NBA Conference Finals preview capsules


    WESTERN CONFERENCE


    No. 1 HOUSTON ROCKETS (65-17, 8-2) vs. No. 2 GOLDEN STATE WARRIORS (58-24, 8-2)



    Season series: Rockets, 2-1.


    Story line: The matchup seemed inevitable. The Rockets went out and got Chris Paul, with hopes of being the team that ends Golden State's three-year stranglehold on the Western Conference crown. Houston has the home-court edge, sure, but the Warriors have won at least one road game in 17 consecutive playoff series. Golden State is bidding for a third title in four years, and the Rockets are an absurd 50-5 when Paul, James Harden and Clint Capela play in the same game.


    How They Got Here: Houston beat No. 8 Minnesota 4-1 and No. 5 Utah 4-1. Golden State beat No. 7 San Antonio 4-1 and No. 6 New Orleans 4-1.


    Key Matchup: Golden State's Kevin Durant vs. Houston's Trevor Ariza. The backcourt matchup - Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson for the Warriors, Paul and Harden for the Rockets - will be unbelievable. But Ariza is going to have to find a way to keep Durant in some sort of check, especially it seems like Curry is back to normal after his knee injury.


    Prediction: Warriors in 6.
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    NBA Western Conference final Game 1 betting preview and odds: Warriors at Rockets


    Golden State Warriors at Houston Rockets (-1.5, 224)


    Series tied 0-0.


    The Houston Rockets have had the look all season of a team ready to dethrone the Golden State Warriors in the Western Conference. They now get their chance to try to turn that vision into a reality when the star-studded squads tangle in the best-of-seven conference finals, beginning with Game 1 on Monday night in Houston.


    The Rockets won the West by seven games over the second-place Warriors and took two of three regular-season meetings while averaging 117.3 points, and they've cruised to their second conference finals in four seasons - the last in 2015 resulting in a lopsided series loss at the hands of Golden State - with back-to-back 4-1 series wins over Minnesota and Utah. The defending NBA champion Warriors also needed just five games to get by each of their first two opponents and are seeking their fourth consecutive trip to the NBA Finals. "We know they are a great team," Golden State coach Steve Kerr recently told the media of the Rockets. "We know they are ready, and we'll be ready for them." The teams last met in the playoffs in 2016, when the Warriors rolled in five games in a first-round matchup.


    TV: 9 p.m. ET, TNT


    SERIES PRICE (PER PINNACLE):





    LINE HISTORY: The Rockets opened the betting for Game 1 as 2-point home favorites and that numbers has been pushed down slightly to 1.5 as of Sunday night. The total hit betting boards at 225 and has been dropped to 225.


    WHAT SHARPS SAY: "The two best teams in the NBA face off in the Western Conference finals and the winner will be a substantial favorite to win the NBA Finals. Look-ahead odds give the Warriors a 86% chance to defeat the Cavaliers and 91% chance to defeat the Celtics. Meanwhile, the Rockets will have a 78% chance to defeat the Cavaliers and an 88% chance to defeat the Celtics in the NBA Finals." - Steve Merril.


    INJURY REPORT:


    Warriors - SG P. McCaw (Early June, Back), SF C. Boucher (Out Indefinitely, Ankle).


    Rockets - No injuries to report.


    MATCHUP CHART:





    ABOUT THE WARRIORS (66-26 SU, 39-52-1 ATS, 43-48-1 O/U): Golden State returned to full power when Stephen Curry came back from a knee injury in Game 2 of the semifinal series against New Orleans, and the two-time MVP showed little rust as he averaged 24.5 points while making 44.1 percent of his 3-pointers during the series. His presence makes the defending champs a complete team that is supremely confident, even as a rare underdog. "No, I like where we are," Kerr told the media. "Our guys have rings. That's a good position to be in. To me, the hardest championship is the first one, as an individual player and as a team, because you don't know - you don't quite know - if you can do it."


    ABOUT THE ROCKETS (73-19 SU, 47-44-1 ATS, 38-53-1 O/U): The big difference between past Houston teams that have faltered against Golden State is the notable addition of point guard Chris Paul, who averaged 21.8 points through the first two rounds. "We've got eight more wins to get," he told reporters when asked if he celebrated his first trip to the conference finals in his 13-year career. "I don't know what it's supposed to feel like, but we've still got a lot of work to do." Backcourt mate James Harden continues to stuff the stat sheet and has joined Michael Jordan (1988-89 and 1990-91) as the second player in NBA history to average at least 28 points, seven assists, five boards and two steals while playing more than five games in a postseason.


    TRENDS:


    * Warriors are 6-1 ATS in their last 7 Conference Finals games.
    * Rockets are 10-2 ATS in their last 12 games playing on 3 or more days rest.
    * Over is 4-0 in Warriors' last 4 Conference Finals games.
    * Under is 10-1 in Rockets' last 11 vs. NBA Pacific.
    * Under is 7-3 in the last 10 meetings.


    CONSENSUS:


    There are 55 percent of pointspread bets on the underdog Warriors while 73 percent of total bets are on the Over.
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  3. #1703  
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    NBA
    Dunkel


    Monday, May 14




    Golden State @ Houston


    Game 731-732
    May 14, 2018 @ 9:05 pm


    Dunkel Rating:
    Golden State
    126.154
    Houston
    130.659
    Dunkel Team:
    Dunkel Line:
    Dunkel Total:
    Houston
    by 4 1/2
    228
    Vegas Team:
    Vegas Line:
    Vegas Total:
    Houston
    by 1 1/2
    224
    Dunkel Pick:
    Houston
    (-1 1/2); Over









    NBA
    Long Sheet


    Monday, May 14



    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    GOLDEN STATE (66 - 26) at HOUSTON (73 - 19) - 5/14/2018, 9:05 PM
    Top Trends for this game.
    GOLDEN STATE is 38-51 ATS (-18.1 Units) in all games this season.
    GOLDEN STATE is 19-32 ATS (-16.2 Units) when playing against a team with a winning record this season.
    GOLDEN STATE is 9-21 ATS (-14.1 Units) when playing against a team with a winning record - 2nd half of the season this season.
    HOUSTON is 23-13 ATS (+8.7 Units) when playing against a team with a winning record - 2nd half of the season this season.
    GOLDEN STATE is 63-38 ATS (+21.2 Units) versus good offensive teams - scoring 106+ points/game - 2nd half of the season since 1996.
    HOUSTON is 40-53 ATS (-18.3 Units) in home games over the last 2 seasons.
    HOUSTON is 1-8 ATS (-7.8 Units) in home games against Pacific division opponents this season.
    HOUSTON is 16-29 ATS (-15.9 Units) in home games after a win by 10 points or more over the last 2 seasons.

    Head-to-Head Series History
    GOLDEN STATE is 9-5 against the spread versus HOUSTON over the last 3 seasons
    GOLDEN STATE is 11-4 straight up against HOUSTON over the last 3 seasons
    9 of 15 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------







    NBA
    Armadillo's Write-Up


    Monday, May 14



    Golden State @ Houston
    Rockets won two of three games with Golden State this year; road team won two of those three games. Warriors won/covered four of their last six visits to Houston. Under is 7-3 in last ten series games. Golden State is 8-2 in these playoffs, splitting four road games; they’re 2-5 vs spread in last seven games (under 5-2). Houston is also 8-2 in the playoffs; they’re 3-3 vs spread in last six home games. Over is 5-3 in their last eight games.


    Conference finals

    Cavaliers-Celtics

    Bos 108-83, +1, U204.5








    NBA


    Monday, May 14



    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Trend Report
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    Golden State Warriors
    Golden State is 2-5 ATS in its last 7 games
    Golden State is 5-1 SU in its last 6 games
    The total has gone UNDER in 5 of Golden State's last 7 games
    The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Golden State's last 5 games on the road
    Golden State is 20-5 SU in its last 25 games when playing Houston
    The total has gone UNDER in 7 of Golden State's last 10 games when playing Houston
    Golden State is 4-1 ATS in its last 5 games when playing on the road against Houston
    Golden State is 4-1 SU in its last 5 games when playing on the road against Houston
    The total has gone UNDER in 5 of Golden State's last 6 games when playing on the road against Houston
    Houston Rockets
    Houston is 5-2 ATS in its last 7 games
    Houston is 6-1 SU in its last 7 games
    The total has gone UNDER in 12 of Houston's last 18 games
    Houston is 23-2 SU in its last 25 games at home
    The total has gone UNDER in 14 of Houston's last 20 games at home
    Houston is 5-10-1 ATS in its last 16 games when playing Golden State
    Houston is 5-20 SU in its last 25 games when playing Golden State
    The total has gone UNDER in 7 of Houston's last 10 games when playing Golden State
    Houston is 1-4 ATS in its last 5 games when playing at home against Golden State
    Houston is 1-4 SU in its last 5 games when playing at home against Golden State
    The total has gone UNDER in 5 of Houston's last 6 games when playing at home against Golden State
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  4. #1704  
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    MONDAY, MAY 14
    GAME TIME(ET) PICK UNITS



    GS at HOU 09:00 PM


    GS +1.5


    U 224.0
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  5. #1705  
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    Durant, Warriors pull away from Rockets
    May 14, 2018



    HOUSTON (AP) Kevin Durant scored 37 points and Klay Thompson added 28 to lead Golden State to a 119-106 win in the long-awaited showdown with the Houston Rockets in Game 1 of the Western Conference finals on Monday night.


    Starting a playoff series on the road for the first time since 2014, the Warriors trailed by as many as 9 early, but had evened it up by halftime and used a big run at the beginning of the fourth quarter to pull away.


    ''We're in the Western Conference Finals they are going to come out with a lot of energy,'' Durant said. ''We're going to take that first punch and keep punching.''


    Game 2 is Wednesday night in Houston.


    Eric Gordon opened the final period with a 3-pointer to get the top-seeded Rockets within 4, but Thompson scored the first eight points of a 13-4 run to make it 100-87 with about eight minutes left.


    Houston used a 9-3 spurt, where James Harden scored five, to cut the lead to 103-96 with less than five minutes to go. But Thompson struck again, hitting a wide open 3 to leave the Warriors ahead by 10 with four minutes left.


    Harden scored 41 to lead the Rockets, who lost at home for the second time this postseason.


    ''You're not going to come in and just knock them out,'' Houston coach Mike D'Antoni said. ''There were too many times where we had mental lapses. We didn't switch properly, turned the ball over and missed too many layups. We need to do a better job of staying up mentally.''


    Steph Curry added 18 for the Warriors, who are in the conference finals for a franchise-record fourth straight time. It's Houston's first trip since 2015 when Golden State won the series in five games.


    The Warriors, who are the second seed in the West, opened a playoff series away from Oracle Arena for the first time since 2014 when they lost to the Los Angeles Clippers 4-3 in the opening round.


    Houston struggled to slow down Durant all night, and things got even worse when Trevor Ariza picked up his fifth foul with about 10 minutes left in the third with Golden State up by 3. Durant made two baskets for the Warriors around one by Chris Paul that left the Warriors up 73-68 a couple of minutes later.


    ''He's one of the best scorers ever,'' D'Antoni said of Durant. ''I thought he was extremely good. But we can withstand that. We can't withstand turning the ball over and giving up so many wide open 3s.''


    Gordon added a layup for Houston after that, but Golden State scored the next six points, with a 3-pointer from Thompson, to make it 79-70 with about 4 1/2 minutes left in the third.


    Houston ended a scoring drought of more than two minutes with a dunk by Harden seconds later and the Warriors followed with another run, scoring six straight points to extend it to 85-72 with just more than two minutes left in the third.


    The Rockets rediscovered their offense after that, scoring the next eight points, powered by 3s from Gordon and Gerald Green, to get within 85-80 with about a minute left in the quarter.


    Durant added two free throws to close out the quarter and leave the Warriors up 87-80 entering the fourth.


    ''Houston, they never stop,'' Durant said. ''They are always in the game with 3-point shots. We try to get good shots every time down and defend on the other end.''


    TIP-INS


    Warriors: Curry extended his NBA playoff record by making at least one 3-pointer in his 80th straight playoff game. ... Draymond Green received a technical early in the first quarter when he pushed Harden after a shot. ... Curry missed his first free throw of the playoffs in the third quarter after making all 19 attempts in the first two rounds.


    Rockets: Paul added 23 points and 11 rebounds. ... Clint Capela had 12 points, six rebounds and two blocks. ... Gordon added 15 points off the bench.


    UP NEXT


    After Game 2 the series moves to Oracle Arena for games 3 and 4 on Sunday and Tuesday.
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  6. #1706  
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    SCHEDULE FOR TUESDAY MAY 15, 2018
    Time (ET) Away Home Site
    8:30 PM Cleveland Cavaliers Boston Celtics TD Garden


    SCHEDULE FOR WEDNESDAY MAY 16, 2018
    Time (ET) Away Home Site
    9:00 PM Golden State Warriors Houston Rockets Toyota Center


    SCHEDULE FOR SATURDAY MAY 19, 2018
    Time (ET) Away Home Site
    8:30 PM Boston Celtics Cleveland Cavaliers Quicken Loans Arena


    SCHEDULE FOR SUNDAY MAY 20, 2018
    Time (ET) Away Home Site
    8:00 PM Houston Rockets Golden State Warriors ORACLE Arena


    SCHEDULE FOR MONDAY MAY 21, 2018
    Time (ET) Away Home Site
    8:30 PM Boston Celtics Cleveland Cavaliers Quicken Loans Arena




    **************************




    MAY'S NBA BEST BET RECORD: ( BASED ON 5 UNITS )


    05/14/2018 1-1-0 50.00% -0.50
    05/13/2018 1-1-0 50.00% -0,50
    05/03/2018 0-4-0 0.00% -22.00
    05/02/2018 2-0-0 100.00% +10.00
    05/01/2018 1-3-0 25.00% -11.50


    Totals...............5-7-0.........41.66%.....-24.50




    BEST BETS................ATS....................UNITS.. ................O/U..............UNITS..............TOTAL


    05/14/2018...............1 - 0..................+5.00...................0 - 1..............-5.50..............-0.50
    05/13/2018...............0 - 1..................-5.50....................1 - 0..............+5.00..............-0.50
    05/03/2018...............0 - 2..................-11.00..................0 - 2..............-11.00............-22.00
    05/02/2018...............1 - 0..................+5.00...................1 - 0.............+5.00.............+10.00
    05/01/2018...............1 - 1..................- 0.50...................0 - 2.............-11.00.............-11.50


    Totals........................3 - 4..................-7.00.................2 - 5...............-17.50...............-24.50
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  7. #1707  
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    Tuesday’s 6-pack


    Odds to win the college basketball national title next April:


    9-2— Duke


    8-1— Kansas, Kentucky


    10-1— Villanova


    12-1— North Carolina


    15-1— Michigan St, Virginia, Gonzaga


    20-1— Auburn, Oregon


    Quote of the Day
    “It’s silly. The praise is uncomfortable, and it’s just something that these guys should be getting it all. We all have a role to play, and we all need to play that role as well as we can.”
    Brad Stevens


    Tuesday’s quiz
    Where did the NBA’s Rockets call home before moving to Houston?


    Monday’s quiz
    Joe Namath finished his NFL career with the Los Angeles Rams.


    Sunday’s quiz
    Arizona Coyotes used to be the Winnipeg Jets, before moving to Arizona.




    ***************************


    Tuesday’s Den: AFC teams’ early season trends…..


    Baltimore— Ravens won 11 of last 13 home openers; under is 4-1 in last five of those. Baltimore is 13-3 vs spread in last 16 post-bye games.


    Buffalo— Last 18 years, Bills are 2-16 in their pre-bye game. Buffalo is 8-3 vs spread in its last 11 home openers.


    Cincinnati— Bengals open on road for 8th time in last nine years; over is 8-1 in their last nine road openers. Cincy is 4-0-1 in last five pre-bye games.


    Cleveland— Since re-joining the NFL in 1999, Browns started season 0-1 18 out of 19 years; they’re 3-12 vs spread in Week 1 home games.


    Denver— Broncos open at home for 8th year in row; they’re 26-3 SU in last 29 home openers,6-3 vs spread in last nine. Broncos won six of last seven post-bye games.


    Houston— Texans open on road for only 2nd time in last 10 years; they won seven of last nine road openers. Under is 5-2 in their last seven season openers.


    Indianapolis— Colts lost their last four home openers, three by 4 or fewer points. Indy started season 0-1 seven of last eight years- they’re 1-9 vs spread in Week 1 the last ten years.


    Jacksonville— Jaguars lost last six home openers, four of last five road openers. Last time they were favored in a home opener was 2010; their HO this year is against New England, so they probably won’t be favored this year, either.


    Kansas City— Since 2006, Chiefs are 1-8-1 vs spread as favorites in home openers. KC is on road three of first four weeks this season, with a QB who has started one NFL game.


    LA Chargers— Bolts covered five of their last six home openers; over is 12-3 in their last 15. Chargers lost their last four road openers, but covered five of last six. Chargers lost five of their last six pre-bye games (1-5 vs spread).


    Miami— Dolphins won five of last six home openers; eight of their last nine home openers went over the total. Miami also covered four of last five road openers; under is 19-5 in last 24 road openers.


    New England— Patriots won six of last seven road openers (5-2 vs spread); they’re 14-2 SU in last 16 home openers, but just 1-5 vs spread in last six. New England won its last nine pre-bye games (8-1 vs spread).


    NJ Jets— Jets won six of last seven home openers; they’re 15-6 vs spread in last 21 road openers. Gang Green is 3-6 vs spread in last nine post-bye games.


    Oakland— Raiders won their last three road openers, are 4-0-1 vs spread in last five; they lost four of last six home openers, last four of which went over the total. Oakland covered five of its last six post-bye games.


    Pittsburgh— Steelers won 14 of last 15 home openers, are 10-3 vs spread in last 13. Under is 7-2 in their last nine home openers. Pitt lost five of last seven road openers; they’re 2-8-1 vs spread in last 11. Steelers covered only one of last seven post-bye games.


    Tennessee— Titans lost five of last six home openers; they’re 9-2 vs spread in last 11 road openers. Under is 16-5 in their last 21 road openers. Titans are 2-6 vs spread in last eight post-bye games.
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  8. #1708  
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    Tuesday's Best Bet
    May 14, 2018



    Tuesday NBA Playoffs Best Bet
    Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Boston Celtics – Game 2



    After obliterating the top seeded Toronto Raptors in the second round, the Cleveland Cavaliers appeared to leave their A-game back in that round as they were the ones who got blown out in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals.


    Nothing could really go right for the Cavs from start to finish against a Boston team that's been disrespected and counted out in every series so far, but when is the time the majority of NBA fans/bettors begin to take this injury-riddled Celtics team for real?


    Is it now after their big Game 1 win? Or do the Celtics still have to hold down the fort at home and then steal one on the road against Cleveland? Either way, Game 2 should present a few answers in that regard as the Cavs look to head home with the split, while Boston would love to take a commanding 2-0 series lead.


    Boston -1; Total set at 203


    After LeBron and the Cavs (more-so LeBron), could do no wrong against the Raptors, Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals was a bit of a wake-up call for this team that had thought they shed their early 2017-18 reputation. It was then that the Cavs were known as by far the worst defensive team in the league, continually letting opponents gut them in the paint, let those opponents get (and hit) whatever shots they desired, and those teams did so knowing that if they could contain LeBron's supporting cast well enough, a W would be on the other side of things for them.


    Cleveland had no choice but to go through a massive overhaul in mid-February to improve things, and while there were some signs of trouble against Indiana, all of those issues were completely forgotten about and glossed over with Cleveland's performance against Toronto.


    But those old wounds were re-opened in Game 1 against Boston, as the Celtics scored 60 points in the paint (+22 for game), knocked down 51.2% of their shots overall, and had a +21-point advantage in three pointers made. It was all out disastrous on both ends for the Cavs in Game 1, and while LeBron did state that “he's not concerned” being down 0-1 in his post game presser, a repeat performance like that will have the entire organization wishing it was mid-February so they could overhaul the entire program again.


    As bad as Game 1 was for Cleveland, the thing here as a bettor is that we shouldn't expect more of the same, at least to that degree. Yes, Boston's Brad Stevens is arguably the best coach in the league, but even all of his scheming isn't likely to hold the Cavs to just 36% shooting from the floor like they had in Game 1, and the 4-for-26 Cleveland shot from beyond the arc has nowhere to go but up.


    Boston's defense has been pretty good at home throughout these playoffs, but Philly still managed to score an average of 105.33 points per game in Boston during last round, and without question Cleveland should be able to at least match that type of production.


    Yet, it's Cleveland's defense (skill, scheme, and intensity) that have to have you concerned about backing the Cavaliers ATS or ML in Game 2, because really, the Cavs defense has been in the toilet for the better part of two years now. Cleveland's always had a tremendous amount of offensive talent during that time to negate most of their defensive flaws, but that's not the particular case this year in the sense that they simply can't run over everyone with their scoring.


    All of that leads me to the total for Game 2, where a number of 203 is way too low for this game. LeBron's aggressiveness to force the action will increase ten-fold after he was quite passive in Game 1, and when some shots are hit from outside by his supporting cast, things will just naturally open up all over the floor for Cleveland. The Cavs scored at least 100 points after each playoff loss to Indiana in Round 1, and while there were no defeats suffered in Round 2, Cleveland still averaged 118.5 points per game against Toronto. Split the difference and we've got Cleveland landing somewhere close to 110 points in Game 2.


    Meanwhile, Boston's defense at home may generate the headlines at times in the mainstream media, but in the playoffs, Celtics home games have been an 'over' machine. Prior to Game 1 of this series cashing the 'under,' Boston was 6-1 O/U at home in these playoffs and have eclipsed those totals in the six 'over's by an average of nearly 16 points (15.91) points per game.


    Cleveland's by far the best offensive team of the bunch when they are connecting, yet, this number of 203 is the lowest total for any Celtics game in these playoffs since Game 7 against Milwaukee when the Game 7 stigma of 'unders' – because refs blow the whistle less not wanting to decide things so less free throws etc – played a part in making that number as low as it was. That won't be the case here in Game 2, a contest that should easily surpass this number.


    Best Bet: Over 203
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    Lineup change possible as LeBron, Cavs look to bounce back
    May 14, 2018



    BOSTON (AP) Put Kevin Love's name atop the list of the Cavaliers that walked out of Cleveland's 25-point Eastern Conference finals Game 1 loss to Boston a little staggered, but with an unbowed head.


    The reason: He's got a teammate by the name of LeBron James that's had a way of responding after lopsided playoff defeats.


    Just ask the Indiana Pacers.


    The Pacers stunned the Cavs at home in their first-round opener, rolling to an 18-point victory. In Game 2, James was all but unstoppable as he replied with a 46-point, 12-rebound performance.


    ''I expect him to have a big response,'' Love said of James on Monday. ''He's always done it. Even before he came back to Cleveland and since I've been here he's always responded big. .... He's going to approach this game as one that he's going to have to lead and bounce back.''


    Even if James does have a big Game 2 Tuesday night in Boston, he'll need some help - and the Cavaliers know it.


    Love said he thought the Cavs were a ''little soft'' in the first half in Game 1. Getting tougher could mean a lineup change for the Cavaliers.


    Coach Tyronn Lue acknowledged that he was at the least considering inserting Tristan Thompson into the lineup after Boston's Al Horford had his way in Game 1, scoring 20 points on 8-of-10 shooting.


    ''It's definitely something we have to weigh,'' Lue said. ''We weighed it before the series started, but we'd won seven out of eight and we weren't going to adjust until someone beat us and we didn't play well with that lineup and that got us to this point.''


    Lue said numbers showed that in the last three years, out of all the players that have guarded Horford over at least 30 possessions, Thompson is No. 1 in the league defending him.


    ''So that's a good thing to know,'' Lue said.


    Boston also outscored Cleveland 60-38 in the paint. That, JR Smith said, is a sign James' supporting cast needs to do more.


    ''We've got to help `Bron,'' he said. ''We can't just expect him to do everything. As role players, we've got to play our role.''


    Thompson came off the bench Sunday but has fared well opposite Horford in the past. Change would mean going away from the three-guard lineup of Smith, George Hill and Kyle Korver, along with James and Love. That lineup tormented the Raptors last series.


    Thompson said the Cavs weren't able to ''clean up the boo-boo on our lips'' after the Celtics' initial run in Game 1.


    ''I think as a team, 1 through 5, we gotta all play tougher,'' Thompson said. ''Obviously, when I check in the game I try to bring that toughness and that energy. But our starters gotta be ready to throw the first punch. We need them to do that, we need them to be physical and set a tone early.''


    He said his past playoff success against Horford has come by him being himself, which means being active early.


    ''Horford is playing very well right now and he's shooting the crap out of the ball,'' Thompson said. ''When I go check into the game, whether it's him or (Aron) Baynes I just try to run the floor, set pick-and-rolls and just try to work him on both ends so that hopefully by the second half his legs might be a little tired where he might not make that three that he makes in the first half.''


    Boston doesn't seem concerned about who the Cavs put on the floor.


    The Celtics feel they are a much different team than the one that trudged into last year's conference finals matchup with Cleveland still toting the emotional baggage of helping teammate Isaiah Thomas cope with the death of his sister.


    Boston also started that series on just a days' rest following a draining seven-game series with Washington.


    None of that is a factor this time around for a rebuilt roster that despite being down two All-Stars in Kyrie Irving and Gordon Hayward, has found a synergy with its remaining group.


    This incarnation of the Celtics is not only young and athletic but playing with a physicality that was missing at times last season.


    The Celtics' starters scored 88 points in Game 1, while shooting 58 percent from the field and going 10 of 21 from the 3-point line. Cleveland's starters scored 46 points, shooting 33 percent from the field and going just 3 of 19 from beyond the arc.


    ''We got a lot of guys where we just don't care,'' Marcus Smart said. ''(Cleveland is) here for a reason, because of the talent that they have. But we have talent as well.


    ''We have guys that are fearless. So we just go out there and do what we do.''
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    Allen says LeBron doing what he does
    May 14, 2018



    COLUMBIA, S.C. (AP) Ray Allen has enjoyed watching former teammate LeBron James lead Cleveland through the NBA playoffs. And it's not much different than what Allen saw almost daily when the two were part of the Miami Heat's run to a NBA title in 2013.


    ''He's the main cog of what the Cavaliers are doing,'' Allen said Monday. ''I don't see him doing anything outside of his spectrum. He's doing what he's been doing most of his career. When we start talking playoff basketball and about the players who are good, we expect them to do their jobs when it's time to do their jobs.''


    For the two-time NBA champion in Allen, there's no higher compliment.


    Allen spent his stellar, 19-year career well prepared for whatever moment there was. He was a 10-time NBA all-star who helped a trophy-starved Boston to a championship in 2008, then joined James, Dwyane Wade and Chris Bosh with the Heat to capture the 2013 crown.


    Allen, the son of an Air Force veteran, starred for Hillcrest High School in Dalzell, South Carolina, about an hour east of Columbia. He returned to the Palmetto State this week to be part of the newest group of inductees into the South Carolina Athletic Hall of Fame.


    ''This is my first induction into any hall of fame,'' Allen said, smiling.


    Allen, 42, left the game after the 2014 season as the NBA leader in career 3-pointers made - more than 400 more than Reggie Miller in second place. Allen's also known for several big moments on the court, including his seven 3-pointers in the sixth and final game of the 2008 title series to defeat the Los Angeles Lakers to help the Celtics win their first championship since 1986.


    It was Allen's 3-pointer from the right corner for the Heat in game six of the 2013 series with San Antonio that tied things at 95-all, a game Miami would go on to win in overtime before closing out the title run a game later.


    Allen, who also played for Milwaukee and Seattle , prefers remembering the smaller moments, ones fans don't see where teammates practice together and commit to let their talent and effort loose in games.


    ''The moments when the guys counted on me to come through for them,'' he said. ''Just being accountable.''


    That's what Allen sees from James as much in a first-quarter blocked shot or box out as in a last-second banker to defeat Toronto in the Eastern Conference semifinals.


    ''It's being a good teammate,'' he said. ''The people see the big shots, but what we see is, `Man, he was a great teammate. He was always there.'''


    As far as the all-time debate, Allen gives the edge to Michael Jordan over James. Playing against both of them, Allen said Jordan ''didn't have any weaknesses. There was just no way that you could stop him.''


    Allen is certain James, especially with more playoff showings like this season, will make a stronger case for the top spot.


    Allen missed Boston's opening game conference finals win over Cleveland and James on Sunday as he had just returned from China where he was promoting the NBA. It's a country hungry for more of the game, Allen said. He said he met one fan there who had his signature sneakers from his early days in Milwaukee.


    He's not pulling for the Celtics or Cavaliers, just more compelling playoff basketball.


    And there should be plenty of that Tuesday night when Golden State plays at Houston, and when there should be plenty of 3-pointers being tossed up.


    Allen, though one of the all-time great long-range shooters in the NBA, doesn't enjoy talking about the role he played in the evolution of game, where 3-pointers are being shot in record numbers. Allen attempted 500 or more 3s just three times in 19 seasons. Steph Curry and Klay Thompson have each done that for the Warriors the past six seasons.


    ''I just believe I did what I was supposed to do when I had my time,'' Allen said. ''I try never to play those woulda, coulda, shouldas.''


    Allen credited his time in South Carolina for learning to overcome adversity on being a military child mixing with civilian students who knew little about life on an air base.


    ''This is a place that grew me up as a young person,'' Allen said. ''It's where I got my start.''
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    NBA Eastern Conference final Game 2 betting preview and odds: Cavaliers at Celtics


    Cleveland Cavaliers at Boston Celtics (-1, 203)


    Celtics leads series 1-0.


    Marcus Morris and his Boston teammates got the best of LeBron James in the opener of the Eastern Conference finals. The second-seeded Celtics look to stymie the Cleveland star for the second consecutive contest when they host the fourth-seeded Cavaliers on Tuesday in Game 2 of the best-of-seven series.


    Morris helped hold James to 15 points on 5-of-16 shooting as Boston roared to a 26-point halftime advantage en route to a 108-83 torching of Cleveland in Sunday's series opener. Morris moved into the starting lineup and had 21 points and 10 rebounds after boasting prior to the opener that he is one of the best in the NBA at defending James. "It's a team effort, man, it's not just me," Morris told reporters after the easy victory. "Everybody played their part in guarding him. He's obviously the best player in the game, and you need multiple guys and a team to guard him an entire game. I just think we did a great job of that." Cavaliers veteran swingman Kyle Korver summed up the performance this way: "Bad game, bad first game. There's lot of things we can do better in the next one."


    TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN


    SERIES PRICE (PER WESTGATE LV SUPERBOOK):





    LINE HISTORY: The Cavaliers opened as 1-point road favorites for Game 2 at a few Vegas books but that number didn't last long as the pointspread quickly jumped the fence to Celtics -1. The total hit betting boards at 202.5 and has been bumped up to 203.


    INJURY REPORT:


    Cavaliers - No injuries to report.


    Celtics - PG S. Larkin (Out, Shoulder), PG K. Irving (Out For Season, Knee), PF D. Theis (Out For Season, Knee), SF G. Hayward (Out For Season, Ankle).


    MATCHUP CHART:





    ABOUT THE CAVALIERS (58-36 SU, 36-57-1 ATS, 44-48-2 O/U): James also committed seven turnovers during his porous performance but he said he wasn't worried about his team trailing in the series. "I have zero level of concern at this stage," James told reporters. "I didn't go to college, so it's not March Madness. You know, you get better throughout the series. You see ways you can get better throughout the series. But I've been down 0-1, I've been down 0-2, I've been down before in the postseason. But for me, there's never no level of concern, no matter how bad I played tonight with seven turnovers, how inefficient I was shooting the ball." James had plenty of company in the subpar shooting category as Cleveland shot 36 percent from the field, including a woeful 4-of-26 from 3-point range.


    ABOUT THE CELTICS (64-31 SU, 60-33-2 ATS, 51-43-1 O/U): Morris was one of three Boston players to reach the 20-point mark in the opener as shooting guard Jaylen Brown recorded 23 points and eight rebounds and center Al Horford had 20 points on 8-of-10 shooting. But the decision to elevate Morris into the starting power forward spot was the big difference-maker as a player who was just 18-of-59 shooting in the five-game series against Philadelphia made 7-of-12 shots and effectively hounded James. "He was able to really force the issue in the offensive end and make LeBron exert so much energy because then he has to come down and really guard him," backup point guard Marcus Smart told reporters. "Can't take plays off against really good players."


    TRENDS:


    * Cavaliers are 8-3 ATS in their last 11 vs. NBA Atlantic.
    * Celtics are 14-2 ATS in their last 16 home games.
    * Over is 5-2 in Cavaliers' last 7 overall.
    * Over is 10-2 in Celtics' last 12 home games.
    * Road team is 8-2 ATS in the last 10 meetings.


    CONSENSUS:


    There are 57 percent of pointspread bets on the home favorite Celtics while 70 percent of total bets are siding with the Over.
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    NBA
    Long Sheet


    Tuesday, May 15



    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    CLEVELAND (58 - 36) at BOSTON (64 - 31) - 5/15/2018, 8:35 PM
    Top Trends for this game.
    CLEVELAND is 36-56 ATS (-25.6 Units) in all games this season.
    CLEVELAND is 5-17 ATS (-13.7 Units) after a loss by 10 points or more this season.
    CLEVELAND is 2-12 ATS (-11.2 Units) after scoring 85 points or less over the last 3 seasons.
    BOSTON is 58-33 ATS (+21.7 Units) in all games this season.
    BOSTON is 35-25 ATS (+7.5 Units) as a favorite this season.
    BOSTON is 28-17 ATS (+9.3 Units) in home games this season.
    BOSTON is 33-20 ATS (+11.0 Units) against Central division opponents over the last 2 seasons.
    BOSTON is 8-0 ATS (+8.0 Units) in home games in all playoff games this season.
    BOSTON is 18-9 ATS (+8.1 Units) after a win by 10 points or more this season.
    BOSTON is 34-17 ATS (+15.3 Units) when playing against a team with a winning record this season.
    BOSTON is 21-12 ATS (+7.8 Units) when playing against a team with a winning record - 2nd half of the season this season.
    BOSTON is 30-18 ATS (+10.2 Units) versus poor defensive teams - allowing 106+ points/game this season.
    BOSTON is 37-18 ATS (+17.2 Units) versus good offensive teams - scoring 106+ points/game this season.
    BOSTON is 23-13 ATS (+8.7 Units) versus good offensive teams - scoring 106+ points/game - 2nd half of the season this season.

    Head-to-Head Series History
    BOSTON is 8-7 against the spread versus CLEVELAND over the last 3 seasons
    CLEVELAND is 11-5 straight up against BOSTON over the last 3 seasons
    9 of 16 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------







    NBA
    Armadillo's Write-Up


    Tuesday, May 15



    Cleveland @ Boston (1-0)
    Celtics are 8-0 at home in playoffs, covering all eight; they were underdog in three of their last four home games. Boston led Game 1 by 26 at halftime; the four starting non-Lebrons were 11-33 from floor. Cavaliers won four of last six games with Boston; they’re 5-3 vs spread in last eight visits to Beantown. Under is 7-4 in last 11 series games. Cleveland is 8-4 in playoff games; they’re 3-3 vs spread in their last six road games. Five of their last seven games went over. Celtics are 8-5 in playoffs so far; over is 8-5 in their playoff games.


    Conference finals
    Cavaliers-Celtics
    Bos 108-83, +1, U204.5


    Warriors-Rockets
    GState 119-106, -1.5, U225.5








    NBA


    Tuesday, May 15



    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Trend Report
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    Cleveland Cavaliers
    Cleveland is 4-9 ATS in its last 13 games
    Cleveland is 5-1 SU in its last 6 games
    The total has gone OVER in 5 of Cleveland's last 7 games
    Cleveland is 6-3 ATS in its last 9 games on the road
    Cleveland is 2-5 ATS in its last 7 games when playing Boston
    Cleveland is 15-5 SU in its last 20 games when playing Boston
    The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Cleveland's last 6 games when playing Boston
    Cleveland is 8-3 ATS in its last 11 games when playing on the road against Boston
    Cleveland is 8-3 SU in its last 11 games when playing on the road against Boston
    The total has gone UNDER in 9 of Cleveland's last 12 games when playing on the road against Boston
    Boston Celtics
    Boston is 6-1 ATS in its last 7 games
    Boston is 6-1 SU in its last 7 games
    The total has gone OVER in 12 of Boston's last 17 games
    Boston is 5-0 ATS in its last 5 games at home
    Boston is 5-0 SU in its last 5 games at home
    The total has gone OVER in 10 of Boston's last 12 games at home
    Boston is 5-2 ATS in its last 7 games when playing Cleveland
    Boston is 5-15 SU in its last 20 games when playing Cleveland
    The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Boston's last 6 games when playing Cleveland
    Boston is 3-8 ATS in its last 11 games when playing at home against Cleveland
    Boston is 3-8 SU in its last 11 games when playing at home against Cleveland
    The total has gone UNDER in 9 of Boston's last 12 games when playing at home against Cleveland




    ------------------------------------------------------------------------




    NBA
    Dunkel


    Tuesday, May 15




    Cleveland @ Boston


    Game 701-702
    May 15, 2018 @ 8:35 pm


    Dunkel Rating:
    Cleveland
    125.141
    Boston
    122.634
    Dunkel Team:
    Dunkel Line:
    Dunkel Total:
    Cleveland
    by 2 1/2
    209
    Vegas Team:
    Vegas Line:
    Vegas Total:
    Cleveland
    Pick
    202 1/2
    Dunkel Pick:
    Cleveland
    Over



    -----------------------------------




    Steve Kerr was right, take the points with the Warriors. He also suggested we all bet on the Cavs tonight.


    Here are NBA playoffs betting stats thus far:


    Home Teams:
    47-19 Straight Up
    36-29-1 ATS (55.38%)


    Favorites:
    50-16 Straight Up
    38-27-1 ATS (58.46%)


    Over-Under: 32-34
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    TUESDAY, MAY 15
    GAME TIME(ET) PICK UNITS



    CLE at BOS 08:30 PM


    CLE -1.0


    O 203.5
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    B]Celtics survive LeBron, down Cavs 107-94
    May 15, 2018
    [/B]


    BOSTON (AP) Jaylen Brown scored 23 points and the Boston Celtics withstood a 42-point night by LeBron James to beat the Cleveland Cavaliers 107-94 on Tuesday and take a 2-0 lead in the Eastern Conference finals.


    Terry Rozier added 18 points, while Al Horford finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds.


    Boston improved to 8-0 this postseason at TD Garden. The Celtics have never blown a 2-0 series lead in the playoffs.


    James added 12 assists and 10 rebounds. He scored 21 of Cleveland's 27 points in the first quarter , tying his playoff career high for points in a period. His 42 points marked his fifth 40-point game of this postseason. James had just 15 points and missed all five of his 3-point attempts in the Cavs' Game 1 loss.


    But he didn't seem to play with the same force after straining his neck in a first-half collision and the Cavaliers wilted in the second half, with the Celtics outscoring them 59-39.


    Kevin Love finished with 22 points and 15 rebounds for Cleveland.


    As expected, Tristan Thompson started in place of Kyle Korver in the hopes his presence could energize what was a sluggish Cavs offense in Game 1. Thompson got Cleveland's first basket of the night and helped to limit Horford's effectiveness on the inside early on.


    Korver added 11 points off the bench for Cleveland. But starters Thompson, JR Smith and George Hill combined for just 11 points on 5-of-17 shooting.


    Tempers flared with 3:49 to play with Boston leading 97-89. Marcus Morris got in Smith's face after Smith pushed Horford in the back to prevent a layup. Smith shoved Morris and the pair had to be separated.


    Smith was assessed a flagrant foul and both received technical fouls.


    Boston's balanced attack was effective again, with six players reaching double figures. Cleveland had 15 turnovers leading to 13 Boston points. The Celtics turned it over just six times.


    Boston led 84-77 after three quarters and took command late in the fourth with the Cavs getting little offense other than from James. Cleveland's starters were pulled with 1:48 left and the Cavs down 14. They sat more than seven minutes to conclude Game 1.


    James was on the attack from the opening tip. He turned the ball over the Cavs' first possession. But it was one of his only miscues in the first quarter.


    James was also astoundingly efficient, using his dribble to create space, while he knocked down an assortment of jump shots.


    He finished the opening quarter 8 of 13 from the field and 4 of 7 from the 3-point line.


    His momentum was stunted briefly at the 3:50 mark of the second quarter, when Tatum was whistled for a foul after catching James jaw with his shoulder as he attempted a steal. James stayed in the game and connected on one of his ensuing free throws, but then exited to the locker room with Cleveland leading 47-36.


    The Cavaliers said James had a neck sprain. He returned after missing less than two minutes of game time.


    Boston flurried just before the half, getting six points from Morris in the final minute to trim Cleveland's lead to 55-48 at the break.


    TIP-INS


    Cavaliers: Were outscored 50-42 in the paint after being outscored 60-38 in Game 1.


    Celtics: Went 10 of 31 from the 3-point line.


    BIG RUN

    Trailing 61-52 after a basket by Love, the Celtics scored seven straight points to make it 61-59, then used a 15-7 spurt to take 74-71 lead, their first of the second half. The two runs included 11 points by Rozier and six by Morris.


    SPECIAL GUEST


    Former Red Sox slugger David Ortiz sat courtside.


    UP NEXT


    Game 3 is Saturday in Cleveland.
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    SCHEDULE FOR WEDNESDAY MAY 16, 2018
    Time (ET) Away Home Site
    9:00 PM Golden State Warriors Houston Rockets Toyota Center


    SCHEDULE FOR SATURDAY MAY 19, 2018
    Time (ET) Away Home Site
    8:30 PM Boston Celtics Cleveland Cavaliers Quicken Loans Arena


    SCHEDULE FOR SUNDAY MAY 20, 2018
    Time (ET) Away Home Site
    8:00 PM Houston Rockets Golden State Warriors ORACLE Arena

    SCHEDULE FOR MONDAY MAY 21, 2018

    Time (ET) Away Home Site
    8:30 PM Boston Celtics Cleveland Cavaliers Quicken Loans Arena


    SCHEDULE FOR TUESDAY MAY 22, 2018
    Time (ET) Away Home Site
    9:00 PM Houston Rockets Golden State Warriors ORACLE Arena


    Updated Wed May 16 12:01 AM EDT




    ******************************




    MAY'S NBA BEST BET RECORD: ( BASED ON 5 UNITS )


    05/15/2018 0-2-0 0.00% -11.00
    05/14/2018 1-1-0 50.00% -0.50
    05/13/2018 1-1-0 50.00% -0,50
    05/03/2018 0-4-0 0.00% -22.00
    05/02/2018 2-0-0 100.00% +10.00
    05/01/2018 1-3-0 25.00% -11.50


    Totals...............5-9-0.........35.71%.....-35.50




    BEST BETS................ATS....................UNITS.. ................O/U..............UNITS..............TOTAL


    05/15/2018...............0 - 1..................-5.50....................0 - 1..............-5.50..............-11.00
    05/14/2018...............1 - 0..................+5.00...................0 - 1..............-5.50..............-0.50
    05/13/2018...............0 - 1..................-5.50....................1 - 0..............+5.00..............-0.50
    05/03/2018...............0 - 2..................-11.00..................0 - 2..............-11.00............-22.00
    05/02/2018...............1 - 0..................+5.00...................1 - 0.............+5.00.............+10.00
    05/01/2018...............1 - 1..................- 0.50...................0 - 2.............-11.00.............-11.50


    Totals........................3 - 5..................-12.50.................2 - 6...............-23.00...............-35.50
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    Armadillo: Wednesday's six-pack


    Odds on some longshots to win the college basketball national title next April:


    200-1– St Mary’s Gaels


    300-1— UConn Huskies


    500-1— Colorado Buffaloes


    1,000-1— Richmond Spiders


    2,000-1— Montana Grizzlies


    5,000-1— Cal State-Fullerton Titans




    **********


    Armadillo: Wednesday's List of 13: Mid-week musings…….


    13) I usually have a great time sitting in the sportsbook here at the Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas; usually find lot of interesting people to talk to. Comfortable chairs, big screens to watch the games on. Had great fun watching games Monday, but last night……..


    I’m sitting there last night, and this guy sits in the chair next to me, on my right; within 90 seconds, he starts in by criticizing every team he has bet on. For the next two hours, I heard in loud and obscene terms:


    — Washington Caps pass too much in the offensive zone.
    — Mike Matheny doesn’t know how to make a lineup.
    — Matt Carpenter shouldn’t bat 2nd.
    — The Flaherty kid pitching for St Louis should be in AAA.
    — Matt Chapman sucks as a third baseman.
    — Matt Carpenter shouldn’t be playing.
    — Daniel Mengden can’t field his position. And on and on………..


    12) Now two of those guys play for the Oakland A’s, and if you know me, you know I’ve been an A’s fan since 1965, when Phil Roof was the A’s catcher and Jose Tartabull played the outfield. I love the freakin’ A’s. I’m biting my tongue so hard with this guy it hurts.


    He bet the Cardinals and A’s in the first five innings; both bets win, but he doesn’t say one positive word about either team. He loses his NHL wager. I am considering whether he has Tourette’s syndrome or is just a degenerative gambler without any filter at all.


    11) He blurts out “Winner, winner, chicken dinner” as the 5th inning ends in the A’s game, and goes to cash his ticket. I say to him “Mengden won the game for you” and he protests with a profanity (“He can’t field his (bleep)ing position”) as he storms off, never to be seen again.


    Should’ve said something about an hour earlier…….


    10) Robinson Cano gets an 80-game suspension for failing a drug test; weird timing, since he broke his hand Sunday, and the suspension/injury will be served at same time. Cano will be eligible again in late August, but if Seattle makes the playoffs, he is ineligible to play in them.


    Cano loses roughly $11.85M with the suspension; Mariners can use that money to try and replace him, or fortify their team somewhere else. Seattle is 24-17 with roughly 25% off the season gone; they’re half-game out of the 2nd Wild Card spot.


    9) David Tepper, a billionaire hedge-fund manager who owned a small part of the Steelers, will buy the Carolina Panthers for $2.2B or so and keep the team in Charlotte. Mr Tepper is said to be paying cash to buy the team. 2.2 billion dollars. In cash.


    I can barely afford a team in my fantasy league. Good for him.


    8) Supreme Court has opened the door for states other than Nevada to start taking bets on sports; New Jersey is already rumored to be starting on Memorial Day.


    7) New York-Washington baseball game was suspended in the middle of the 6th inning last night, with game 3-3; it’ll be resumed at 5:05 ET today, and then the regularly-scheduled game will be played.


    Orioles-Phillies got rained out last night; that game will be made up July 12.


    6) Guy named Tom Haberstroh is a better man than I am; he counted how many times each team dribbled in the Rockets-Warriors game Monday. Houston 1,105, Warriors 812.


    Point being that part of Golden State’s greatness is that they get great spacing and they find open men quickly with passes, the way basketball should be played. Plus the open men they find can all shoot, otherwise it would be pointless to get them the ball.


    5) Phoenix Suns won the NBA Lottery, so they get the first pick in the draft; seeing as they already hired a foreign-born coach who was once coached international prospect Luka Doncic on a national team, you’d think he’ll be the choice, yes?


    But Deandre Ayton played one season for the Arizona Wildcats; most people seem to think he is the best player in the draft. We’ll see what the Suns do.


    Sacramento/Atlanta pulled upsets and moved up to the 2nd and 3rd spots in the draft.


    4) Arizona Diamondbacks lost star CF AJ Pollock (broken wrist) for 4-6 weeks.


    3) You can wager on what color hat the Queen of England will be wearing at the royal wedding this weekend. Green is the current favorite, bet down to even money.


    2) So you bet the Astros-Angels game last night; maybe you bet the game because Fielden Culbreth was the home plate ump, but Culbreth got drilled in the mask by a foul ball in the 3rd inning and was replaced by CB Bucknor, who is more of a pitcher’s umpire.


    Sometimes stuff happens during a game and it either helps you or hurts you from a gambling perspective; when you’re hot, things fall your way. When you’re cold, you lose replay challenges and guys drop fly balls on you. Part of what makes gambling so challenging.


    1) I made a wager on the Dodgers-Marlins game last night, forgetting that they can’t show Dodger games here in Las Vegas unless they’re on national TV. Las Vegas for some stupid reason, is considered part of the LA market, so their games get blacked out.


    Think I realized all this about 30 seconds before the talkative gambler sat next to me and brightened up my world. Today will be a better day!!!!
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    NBA Western Conference Final Game 2 betting preview and odds: Warriors at Rockets


    Golden State Warriors at Houston Rockets (-1.5, 224.5)


    Warriors lead series 1-0.


    The Golden State Warriors flashed supreme form in the opener of the Western Conference finals and look to take a 2-0 lead when they visit the Houston Rockets on Wednesday. The Warriors outscored the Rockets by 13 points in the second half while recording a 119-106 win in Game 1.


    Forward Kevin Durant scored 37 points and shooting guard Klay Thompson added 28 as second-seeded Golden State was in top form while outclassing James Harden and the top-seeded Rockets. "I don't know if we're at our peak," Durant told reporters. "I think we could be better. I mean, the stakes are high. We're playing the Western Conference finals against the best team in the league, the No. 1 seed, an MVP on their team. So I think everybody just wants to enjoy this time." Harden recorded 41 points and seven assists in the opener but didn't receive enough help from the supporting cast. "We're all in this together," Harden told reporters. "It doesn't matter who has a bad game or who is missing shots. ... Keep shooting your shot and being aggressive. We got this far doing that and having that mindset, so we're just going to continue it."


    TV: 9 p.m. ET, TNT


    SERIES PRICE (PER PINNACLE):





    LINE HISTORY: The Rockets opened as 2.5-point home favorites for Game 2 after being thoroughly dominated in the opener. The early action was steady on the Warriors and books were forced to move that number down to 1.5 by Tuesday afternoon. The total hit betting boards at 225.5 and has been dropped slightly to 224.5.


    WHAT SHARPS SAY: "The world figures to line up on the top-seeded Rockets in a bounce back tonight but it should be noted that Golden State is 21-5 SU the last twenty-six games in this series, including 6-0 both SU and ATS as an underdog. It’s hard to argue with numbers like those." - Marc Lawrence.


    INJURY REPORT:


    Warriors - SG P. McCaw (Early June, Back), SF C. Boucher (Out Indefinitely, Ankle).


    Rockets - No injuries to report.


    MATCHUP CHART:





    ABOUT THE WARRIORS (67-26 SU, 40-52-1 ATS, 43-49-1 O/U): Durant was 14-of-27 shooting in Game 1 as Golden State repeatedly isolated him to take advantage of mismatches with Houston defenders. "We want to keep the ball moving, but obviously Kevin is the ultimate luxury because a play can break down and you just throw him the ball," Warriors coach Steve Kerr told reporters. "He can get you a bucket as well as anybody on Earth. This is why anybody would want him on their team. You think about a couple years ago, and we're in the Finals and we couldn't quite get over the hump. Kevin is the guy that puts you over the hump." Point guard Stephen Curry was solid all-around with 18 points, eight assists and six rebounds as his team's third-leading scorer for the contest.


    ABOUT THE ROCKETS (73-20 SU, 47-45-1 ATS, 38-54-1 O/U): Harden reached 40 points for the third time this season and coach Mike D'Antoni joked after Game 1 that he might need to ask Harden to score 55 in Game 2. He broke out a 3-point shooting funk by making 5-of-9 attempts after being just 6-of-32 over the final four contests of the second-round series against the Utah Jazz. Point guard Chris Paul had 23 points and 11 rebounds in the opener but only had three assists as the Rockets were unable to crisply moving the ball in the halfcourt offense.


    TRENDS:


    * Warriors are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 Conference Finals games.
    * Rockets are 6-18 ATS in their last 24 vs. NBA Pacific.
    * Under is 4-0 in Warriors' last 4 road games.
    * Under is 11-0 in Rockets' last 11 vs. NBA Pacific.
    * Under is 6-1 in the last 7 meetings in Houston.


    CONSENSUS:


    There are 51 percent of pointspread bets on the favored Rockets while 66 percent of totals wagers are on the Over.
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    NBA
    Dunkel


    Wednesday, May 16




    Golden State @ Houston


    Game 501-502
    May 16, 2018 @ 9:05 pm


    Dunkel Rating:
    Golden State
    128.905
    Houston
    126.908
    Dunkel Team:
    Dunkel Line:
    Dunkel Total:
    Golden State
    by 2
    217
    Vegas Team:
    Vegas Line:
    Vegas Total:
    Houston
    by 2
    225
    Dunkel Pick:
    Golden State
    (+2); Under









    NBA
    Long Sheet


    Wednesday, May 16



    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    GOLDEN STATE (67 - 26) at HOUSTON (73 - 20) - 5/16/2018, 9:05 PM
    Top Trends for this game.
    GOLDEN STATE is 39-51 ATS (-17.1 Units) in all games this season.
    GOLDEN STATE is 8-20 ATS (-14.0 Units) after 3 or more consecutive wins this season.
    GOLDEN STATE is 20-32 ATS (-15.2 Units) when playing against a team with a winning record this season.
    GOLDEN STATE is 10-21 ATS (-13.1 Units) when playing against a team with a winning record - 2nd half of the season this season.
    HOUSTON is 23-14 ATS (+7.6 Units) when playing against a team with a winning record - 2nd half of the season this season.
    GOLDEN STATE is 62-40 ATS (+18.0 Units) in all playoff games since 1996.
    GOLDEN STATE is 64-38 ATS (+22.2 Units) versus good offensive teams - scoring 106+ points/game - 2nd half of the season since 1996.
    HOUSTON is 40-54 ATS (-19.4 Units) in home games over the last 2 seasons.
    HOUSTON is 1-9 ATS (-8.9 Units) in home games against Pacific division opponents this season.
    HOUSTON is 16-30 ATS (-17.0 Units) in home games revenging a loss vs opponent over the last 3 seasons.

    Head-to-Head Series History
    GOLDEN STATE is 10-5 against the spread versus HOUSTON over the last 3 seasons
    GOLDEN STATE is 12-4 straight up against HOUSTON over the last 3 seasons
    10 of 16 games in this series have gone UNDER THE TOTAL over the last 3 seasons

    --------------------------------------------------------------------------------







    NBA
    Armadillo's Write-Up


    Wednesday, May 16



    Golden State (1-0) @ Houston
    Golden State is 25-3 in playoff games since they signed Durant. Houston’s five subs were combined -35 in 79:00 in Game 1. Harden had 41 points Monday but Durant/Thompson combined for 65. Road team won three of four series games this year; Warriors won/covered five of their last seven visits to Houston. Under is 8-3 in last 11 series games. Golden State is 9-2 in these playoffs, 3-2 on road- under is 6-2 in their last eight games. Houston is 8-3 in playoffs, 3-4 vs spread in last seven home games. Over is 5-4 in their last nine games.


    Conference finals
    Cavaliers-Celtics
    Bos 108-83, +1, U204.5
    Bos 107-94, +1, U205.5


    Warriors-Rockets
    GState 119-106, -1.5, U225.5








    NBA


    Wednesday, May 16



    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
    Trend Report
    ------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    Golden State Warriors
    Golden State is 6-1 SU in its last 7 games
    The total has gone UNDER in 4 of Golden State's last 5 games
    The total has gone UNDER in 5 of Golden State's last 6 games on the road
    Golden State is 20-5 SU in its last 25 games when playing Houston
    The total has gone UNDER in 8 of Golden State's last 11 games when playing Houston
    Golden State is 5-1 ATS in its last 6 games when playing on the road against Houston
    Golden State is 5-1 SU in its last 6 games when playing on the road against Houston
    The total has gone UNDER in 6 of Golden State's last 7 games when playing on the road against Houston
    Houston Rockets
    Houston is 19-6 SU in its last 25 games
    The total has gone UNDER in 13 of Houston's last 19 games
    Houston is 3-6 ATS in its last 9 games at home
    Houston is 22-3 SU in its last 25 games at home
    The total has gone UNDER in 15 of Houston's last 21 games at home
    Houston is 2-4-1 ATS in its last 7 games when playing Golden State
    Houston is 5-20 SU in its last 25 games when playing Golden State
    The total has gone UNDER in 8 of Houston's last 11 games when playing Golden State
    Houston is 1-5 ATS in its last 6 games when playing at home against Golden State
    Houston is 1-5 SU in its last 6 games when playing at home against Golden State
    The total has gone UNDER in 6 of Houston's last 7 games when playing at home against Golden State
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  19. #1719  
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    The Celtics continue to get no respect from oddmakers, currently 6.5-point underdogs for Game 3.


    Here are NBA playoffs betting stats thus far:


    Home Teams:
    48-19 Straight Up
    37-29-1 ATS (55.38%)


    Favorites:
    50-17 Straight Up
    38-28-1 ATS (58.46%)


    Over-Under: 32-35 (0-3 in conference finals)
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  20. #1720  
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    Rockets look to rebound in G2
    May 16, 2018



    By Tom Wilkinson


    Game 2 - Golden State Warriors vs. Houston Rockets


    The Golden State Warriors showed the Houston Rockets who was boss in Game 1 of the Western Conference Finals on Monday night and now Golden State will look to bury the Rockets on Wednesday night in Game 2.


    You can already make a case that Game 2 is simply a must-win game for the Rockets if they are to have any chance of making this series competitive.


    Let’s look at Game 2 on Wednesday and NBA picks.


    Golden State Warriors vs. Houston Rockets
    Date and Time: Wednesday, May 16, 2018, 9:00 p.m. Eastern
    Location: Toyota Center, Houston, TX
    NBA Odds : Rockets -1.5, O/U 224.5
    Warriors vs. Rockets TV Coverage: TNT



    It was only one game, but the Warriors 119-106 win on Monday night showed that this series is really already over, as Golden State now has home court advantage. I said before Game 1 that the Rockets simply don’t have enough weapons to match Golden State and that proved true in Game 1. The Rockets have James Harden and Chris Paul, but Golden State has Kevin Durant, Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson. In Game 1 it was Durant scoring 37 points, the fourth time this postseason that Durant has scored 30 points or more. Head coach Steve Kerr said that Durant can’t be stopped. “I don't know what you do to guard him," Kerr said. "He can get any shot he wants." Durant got help from Thompson who hit a number of big shots to thwart any hopes Houston had of making a comeback.

    Harden had 41 points, while Paul added 23, but Houston still lost. Houston head coach Mike D’Antoni said that his team simply wasn’t tough mentally. "There were too many times where we had mental lapses. We didn't switch properly, turned the ball over and missed too many layups. We need to do a better job of staying up mentally."


    Curry had 18 points for the Warriors. Kerr said that he expects Curry to play better as the series progresses. "I think he's going to get even better as the series goes on, which is good for us."


    Key Stats


    The Warriors are 5-1 ATS in the last 6 meetings in Houston. The Warriors are 5-15 ATS in their last 20 games following a straight up win. The Warriors are 4-14 ATS in their last 18 games playing on one day of rest. The Rockets are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games playing on one day of rest.


    Looking at the total, the Under is 4-0 in the Warriors last 4 road games. The Under is 11-0 in the Rockets last 11 games vs. the Pacific Division. The Under is 15-6 in the Rockets last 21 home games. The Under is 6-1 in the last 7 meetings in Houston.


    Warriors vs. Rockets Free Picks


    I said before Game 1 that the Warriors were the better team and that Houston didn’t have enough to stop them. That is still the case, and if Houston doesn’t win this game it should be a sweep for Golden State.


    The value in Game 2 is still with Golden State, but the situation does favor Houston. I still lean toward the Warriors but picking a side is difficult because of the situation, so I will avoid a side and look at the total. I had the under in Game 1 and it was a winner. The only reason it was close was because Houston chose to continue to foul late in the game.


    There is no question that Golden State and Houston are potent offensive teams, but the trends are heavily in favor of this game going under. The Rockets have gone under the total in 15 of their last 21 home games and their last 11 against Pacific Division teams have gone under.


    Golden State has also gone under in their last four road games. I think there is value on the total once again for Game 2, so I will go under the total.


    Warriors vs. Rockets ATS Pick: Under the total
    Warriors vs. Rockets Score Prediction: Warriors 110, Rockets 109
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  21. #1721  
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    G2 - Warriors at Rockets
    May 16, 2018



    Golden State (67-26 straight up, 40-52-1 against the spread) will be looking to take a commanding 2-0 series lead in the Western Conference finals when it faces Houston tonight in Game 2 at Toyota Center. As of early this morning, most betting shops had the Rockets installed as 1.5-point home favorites with a total of 125. Houston (73-20 SU, 47-45-1 ATS) was -125 on the money line, leaving the Warriors at +105 to win outright.


    Steve Kerr’s team won the series opener Monday by capturing a 119-106 victory as a two-point underdog. The 225 combined points dipped ‘under’ the closing total of 225.5 points. However, the total was 224 on Sunday and early Monday morning. It moved to 224.5 late Monday morning, was adjusted to 225 a couple of hours before tip and then went to 225.5 in the last hour before the game started.


    Therefore, the game’s final minutes were excruciating ones for gamblers on the total. When Andre Iguodala grabbed a defensive rebound with 2:18 remaining, Golden State was ahead 108-98 for 206 combined points. Chris Paul fouled him three seconds later and Iguodala, a 63.2 percent free-throw shooter during the regular season, made a pair at the charity stripe. Eight seconds later, James Harden was fouled shooting a 3-pointer.


    Harden made 2-of-3 FTs to cut the deficit to 110-100 with 2:07 remaining. Steph Curry got free for a layup with 1:51 left, bringing the combined score to 212 points. After a Warriors’ stop, Kevin Durant hit a pair of FTs with 1:24 remaining. Paul answered with a layup seven ticks later and it was 114-102. Then with 1:10 left, Draymond Green was fouled and drained a pair at the stripe.


    At this point, bettors on the ‘under’ are getting that really bad feeling in their stomachs, while those on the ‘over’ are believing they have life. Ten seconds later with 1:00 remaining, Paul scored on another layup to make it 116-104 for 220 combined points. The scoring temporarily subsided when Klay Thompson missed a trey and then Houston’s Eric Gordon was also off from downtown.


    Durant gathered the rebound with 39.8 ticks left with a 12-point advantage. In the regular season, this scenario wouldn’t warrant fouling and the same can be said for a lot of postseason games as well. But Paul opted to foul Green with 32.1 seconds remaining. Green missed the first FT but made the second.


    Next, Paul darted in for a layup, his third during what we can call ‘garbage time’ since the outcome was well in hand. Paul’s bucket came with 21.4 seconds left, trimming the deficit to 117-106. The shot clock was off and Houston was down 11 points. In other words, the game was over.


    On the day the Supreme Court ruled that each state in America could join Nevada and make sports gambling legal, Harden decided he wouldn’t mind getting another possession to pad his stats that he deems so precious. Therefore, he fouled Iguodala with 12.1 ticks remaining and the combined scoring sitting at 223. Remember, for NBA standards, Iguodala is a poor FT shooter who has shot about 70 percent at the stripe just once in his last eight regular seasons.


    So naturally, he made both to make the final score hit at 225 combined points, determining a win or loss for gamblers who had bet the total when it was at 224, 224.5 or 225 for nearly all of Monday.


    Anyway, moving beyond the wild finish on the total, the Warriors turned a game tied at halftime into a lopsided victory thanks to Durant. The perennial All-Star scored a team-best 37 points, doing most of his work off the dribble before burying mid-range jumpers. He made 14-of-27 field-goal attempts, 3-of-6 attempts from 3-point land and all six of his FTAs.


    Thompson drained 6-of-15 launches from long distance and finished with 28 points, four rebounds, two assists and two steals. Curry added 18 points, six rebounds, two steals, one block and eight assists compared to just one turnover. Iguodala was also in double figures with 11 points on 7-of-8 makes from the FT line. Green scored only five points, but he had his team’s best plus/minus (+19) and filled the box score with nine rebounds, two steals, a pair of blocked shots and nine assists compared to three turnovers.


    Harden, who by the way did get another shot attempt to pad his stats after fouling Iguodala with 12.1 seconds left (but he missed, HA!), scored a game-high 41 points. He hit 14-of-24 FGAs, 5-of-9 shots from long distance and 8-of-10 FTAs. Harden also had seven assists and four rebounds.


    Paul had 23 points but as previously noted, six came on layups when the game was already decided. Paul had a game-high 11 rebounds, but he dished out only three assists. Gordon scored 15 points, while Clint Capela finished with 12 points, six boards, two blocked shots and three assists without a turnover.


    Houston had a 42-37 rebounding advantage, but Golden State had a 24/9 assist-to-turnover ratio. Meanwhile, the Rockets had 18 assists compared to 13 turnovers.


    Golden State is 32-14 SU and 21-25 ATS in its road assignments this season. The Warriors have been road underdogs five times this year, compiling a 2-3 record both SU and ATS. However, we should note that Curry was ‘out’ with a knee injury in all three of those defeats, and one of them came in the regular-season finale when multiple starters were rested.


    Mike D’Antoni’s squad is 39-9 SU and 20-27-1 ATS in its home games this year. Houston is 5-2 SU and 3-4 ATS at home in these playoffs, failing to cover the number in three straight outings at Toyota Center.


    Sportsbook.ag has the updated series price, with the Warriors as -525 ‘chalk.’ This leaves the Rockets as +400 underdogs (risk $100 to win $400).


    Chris David of VegasInsider.com was surprised that Houston opened as a favorite for Game 2 and while he believes the Warriors will the series, supporting the Rockets off a loss has been a good investment recently.


    He said, “In the second-half of the season, Houston finished with a 35-6 record and they never suffered back-to-back losses. In the games following the six defeats in the regular season, the Rockets won their next game by an average of 12.8 PPG. That trend has carried over to this year’s playoffs in each of the first two series. A first round loss to Minnesota in Game 3 was followed up with a 19-point win and a six-point setback to Utah in Game 2 of the conference semifinals was answered with a 21-point victory.”


    “Knowing Golden State has only lost three playoff games since Kevin Durant joined the team could have you hesitant to back Houston but make a note that all three setbacks for the Warriors did come on the road, two of them in this year’s postseason,” David added.


    The ‘under’ is on an 8-3 run in the past 11 head-to-head meetings between these clubs. Also, the ‘under’ has cashed at a 6-1 clip in the last seven games of this rivalry that have been played at Houston. In four encounters this year, totals have been a wash. The ‘over’ hit in the first two regular-season meetings with the combined scores netting 243 and 238 points, but the ‘under’ has cashed in back-to-back games of this rivalry.


    The ‘under’ is on a 4-0 run for the Warriors to improve to 49-43-1 overall. They’ve watched the ‘under’ cash at a 26-20 clip in their road assignments. The ‘under’ is 6-4-1 for Golden State in its 11 postseason games to date, going 4-1 in its road games.


    The ‘under’ is 54-38-1 overall for the Rockets, 26-22 in their home outings. They’ve seen the ‘under’ go 4-2 in their past six contests.


    Tip-off for tonight’s Game 2 on TNT is scheduled for 9:05 p.m. Eastern.


    **B.E.’s Bonus Nuggets**


    -- Golden State is 5-1 ATS in its past six games played at Houston.


    -- If I’m D’Antoni, I get Ryan Anderson some early minutes off the bench tonight. We’re talking about a guy who has averaged 16.1 PPG or better in four different regular seasons. Anderson has averaged in double figures in seven of his 10 seasons in The Association, and he knocked down 40.3 percent of his treys for the Rockets last year, 38.6 percent this year. Anderson is a guy that can get hot at any time and provide a needed offensive spark off the bench. He only played five minutes in Game 1 and went scoreless with merely one shot attempt.


    -- Boston took a 2-0 series lead over Cleveland in the Eastern Conference finals by winning a 107-94 decision in a pick ‘em affair last night at TD Garden. The 201 combined points dropped ‘under’ the closing 205.5-point total. Unlike the end of the WCF’s series opener, Boston and Cleveland both dribbled out the clock in their last two possessions. This was important because the Game 2 total was 203 on Monday and early yesterday morning. It moved up to 204 late Tuesday morning before getting to 205 and eventually 205.5 early in the evening.


    -- The updated series price for the ECF: Boston -250, Cleveland +210 (risk $100 to win $210).


    -- Al Horford dominated on both ends of the floor at crunch time last night. He finished with 15 points, 10 rebounds, two steals, two blocked shots and four assists without a turnover. Marcus Smart had Boston’s best plus-minus ratio (+21) and contributed 11 points, five rebounds, four steals and nine assists without a turnover. Jaylen Brown and Terry Rozier scored 23 and 18 points, respectively.


    -- LeBron James was absolutely sensational in the losing effort, producing 42 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds. It was the third triple-double in a 40-point effort for James in this year’s postseason. From 1964-2017 in the NBA Playoffs, there were only three 40-point triple doubles recorded. Those belonged to Jerry West, Charles Barkley and Russell Westbrook. Even with that effort from James, including a 19-point first quarter in which he buried five 3-pointers (channeling his inner Michael Jordan circa 1992 against the Portland Trail Blazers in the NBA Finals), the Celtics still won Game 2 by a double-digit margin.


    -- The Westgate SuperBook in Las Vegas opened the Cavaliers as six-point home favorites for Saturday’s Game 3 back at Quicken Loans Center. The betting shop run by Jay Kornegay and his crew moved the Cavs to 6.5 in less than an hour late last night. The total was sent out at 205 points, while the Celtics are +245 on the money line (risk $100 to win $245).


    -- J.R. Smith’s shove of Horford after he had elevated to the rim last night was some low-rent BS! In the playoffs four years ago, Horford was ejected from Game 3 of the East finals at Cleveland (with the Hawks leading late in the second quarter) when Matthew Dellavedova took his legs out while he was in mid-air. While in the air as he realized he was falling for a split second, Horford momentarily appeared poised to unleash a nice forearm on Dellavedova when he landed on him. Horford relented at the last second, however, but his large frame still came down hard on ‘Delly.’ Lest we forget, ‘Delly’ had dove hard at Kyle Korver’s knees in a loose-ball scramble in Game 2 of that series, injuring Korver and rendering him out for the rest of the season. Nevertheless, it was Horford – one of the league’s classiest players – who was ejected on that night. Yet Smith wasn’t ejected last night on a dirty play that could’ve easily injured Horford (and would’ve altered the projection of this series immensely). That, folks, makes ZERO sense.


    -- Just in case you were wondering, the odds for Boston to sweep Cleveland going into the East finals were 35/1.


    -- Phoenix won the 2018 NBA Draft lottery last night. The Suns will choose first, followed by Sacramento, Atlanta, Memphis, Dallas and Orlando.


    -- While Toronto and Milwaukee are reportedly in hot pursuit of former Atlanta head coach and General Manager Mike Budenholzer, we thought it would be a good time to offer fans of the Raptors and Bucks this friendly reminder: After Atlanta GM Danny Ferry was fired and Budenholzer was serving as HC and GM of the Hawks, he made it a priority to ink Dwight Howard and Kent Bazemore for $140 million in long-term contracts three years ago before even entering into negotiations with franchise stalwart Al Horford, who had just become an unrestricted free agent and was more than willing to re-up with the team that drafted him third overall (presuming that was the organization’s offseason priority, as it SHOULD HAVE BEEN CLEARLY!). After the Hawks had missed the playoffs for eight consecutive seasons, Horford led them to the postseason nine years in a row. Sensing that he might not be a good fit with Howard (what team player that simply wants to win championships does fit in with Howard?!), Horford understandably took less money (but plenty of it, to be sure) to join the Celtics. And we all see how that’s going for Danny Ainge and Brad Stevens.
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  22. #1722  
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    Bet Golden State To Sweep
    May 15, 2018



    We waited all year…for that?


    The Houston Rockets are still picking themselves up from their own floor after Golden State mopped the Toyota Center with their withered corpses. What looked to be like a genuinely interesting dogfight in the first half turned out to be a 119-106 squash. I blinked and said, “Wow this game is close…oh wait…the Warriors are up by 10…oh god it’s over.” That game was dusted in the last six minutes of the fourth, and strangely it never really felt like Houston had a chance.


    I’ve been harping on coaching throughout the playoffs because we’ve had a lot of really bad coaching getting pancaked by great play calling and team management skill sets. And I’d be more willing to give Mike d’Antoni a break if the whole Houston franchise hadn’t been screaming from the hilltops that they can’t stop dreaming about playing the Warriors in these playoffs. From Darryl Morey down to the guy who runs the water, it’s been the club’s mantra.


    Harden was his usual brilliant self, and I mean that in a good way and a bad way. He scored 41 points and chipped in 7 assists. At one point in the game, he had been involved in 23 straight points for his team. But you could feel him coming unglued. The Rockets supporting cast grew stagnant, almost nervous. Even Harden himself seemed to run out of gas, a narrative that has become all too familiar in the playoffs.


    My preview about this whole series essentially boiled down to Klay Thompson’s defence and who Kerr would dispatch him on. I made it clear then (and it’s worth repeating) that Thompson was never intended to lock down neither Harden nor Chris Paul. At times in Game 1, he seemed completely outmatched by CP3, the guy he was assigned for most of the game. Paul scored 21 points and added 11 rebounds but only 3 assists, a weird but not unexpected stat line.


    It wasn’t even Thompson’s defence that was the standout component of what reduced Houston. It was Houston’s own game plan! It was just iso after iso after iso. They ran out of time on the shot clock multiple times, which is embarrassing in its own right. How does that even happen with a team like this?


    Houston took 85 field goals and the combination of James Harden and a suddenly trigger happy Eric Gordon accounted for 37 of them. The crazy part? Houston didn’t even have that bad of a game statistically. Their 45.9 shooting percentage and 35.1 three point percentage are around their regular season marks. They were even 3.4 points of their 112.4 point scoring average.


    When Harden couldn’t find a shot, he was coughing up bad passes or putting his teammates in impossibly, low percentage opportunities with zero time left on the clock. In other words, it was a bloody mess.


    For their part, Kevin Durant and the Warriors were their calm, collected, “been here, done that, won rings” selves. Durant had 37 points off of 14-of-27 shooting, while Klay was a force with 28 points of his own. The Warriors also didn’t seem to miss early on with an absurd clip of 52.5 percent from the field and 39.4 from long range.


    Perhaps the best way to describe it the old boxing analogy. They took some big hits, never wavered in the face of adversity and were fully prepared to go the distance when their opponent could only last 10 rounds. Houston was dogging it halfway through the fourth quarter, and Golden State didn’t even need critical knockout blows to keel their opponents to a knee. They just chipped away as they usually did.


    Saying that the Rockets petered is also reductive in a sense, because they had their mental edge wiped out when they saw Golden State’s defensive sets. Igoudala (who is now sentient apparently), Thompson and Green were always stretching out to block passing lanes while the rest of the Warriors waited to see what Harden was going to do. Beyond that, it’s like they knew what he was trying to create and just took it away from him.


    I can’t analogize that shot clock running out any better than by calling it the football equivalent of a coverage sack. The Warriors stuffed big bodies in the lanes to deter Harden, and then eliminated his other viable options. It was unreal, defensive brilliance.


    They showed up prepared, executed and that was that. This gives the Warriors all the credit they deserve, but what in the flaming hell is Houston’s excuse? The Warriors ran familiar sets, hit familiar shots and did what they always do. The Rockets had no defensive answer, which is fine because they’re not that kind of team, but they had absolutely no clue how to penetrate their defence. It’s like they just thought that whatever they’ve been doing against everyone else would work. Or that they haven’t been watching the Warriors roll through the playoffs these past two years.


    No excuse is good enough. It’s crazy to even say this, but I gave the Rockets too much credit. Golden State winning in 6 at +300 was my optimal choice, but now I’m trying to get in on the sweep.


    It’s not too late. If you’re looking to make a daring bet on the NBA playoffs, that has an absurd probability of actually happening, the Golden State Warriors sweeping the Rockets is sitting right there at +350 odds.


    What in Mike D’Antoni’s entire career as a coach suggests that he has the tactical genius or the sheer motivational capabilities to get his team over the hump. In the last ten seasons, he’s won three rounds in the playoffs… and two of those have come this year!


    You can’t get rid of these Warriors. You’re aware that they can stretch out a lead before you even realize it, or eat up a deficit like they just stumbled upon a tin of Pringles you had stashed away for a rainy day. It’s too easy for these guys. We just expected Houston to be the one team that could potentially give the defending champs a real run for their money. That’s what they had promised us by thriving during the regular season as the best team around, while seemingly shedding ghosts of playoff pasts in earlier rounds.


    Nope. This is partly why Golden State is amongst the greatest teams ever assembled. But there’s a lot of blame on Houston being so unprepared for a war that they knew was going to be uphill in the first place. Hopefully they show up and make this a series, and I have to walk back a lot of these strong comments. Just in case, I’m doubling down on the Warriors cracking out those brooms.

    Next Game: Golden State +1.5 over Houston (Wed, May 16th)
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  23. #1723  
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    Rockets must improve in Game 2
    May 15, 2018



    HOUSTON (AP) The Houston Rockets have plenty of things to fix after squandering their coveted home-court advantage in the Western Conference finals.


    Tops on their list: limiting turnovers, eliminating open 3s and making things tougher on the Golden State Warriors - particularly Kevin Durant.


    ''Kevin Durant and (Stephen) Curry, they're good. So they're going to make'' shots, Houston coach Mike D'Antoni said. ''Our head can't explode that they go one-on-one and make shots ... you have to be able to absorb some of their greatness; at the same time, don't make the mental errors that we did. That would accumulate for 15, 20 points, and that's the difference in the game.''


    Some almost sounds like the Rockets will have to play almost perfect beat the Warriors. They wouldn't go as far as to say that, but James Harden, who scored 41 in Game 1, did say that at this level the margin for error gets razor thin.


    ''It's the (conference) finals,'' he said. ''There's four teams here for a reason. Obviously these four teams have done great things all year. You can't make the same mental mistakes like you're in a regular season.''


    There were plenty of Rockets miscues in Game 1.


    They coughed up the ball 13 times on Monday and the Warriors outscored the Rockets 18-3 on fast break points en route to a 119-106 victory. Klay Thompson scored 28 points and made 6 of 15 3-point attempts on a night Harden lamented that about 10 of those looks were wide-open. Thompson's performance came on top of Durant scoring 37 points, mostly by knocking down long 2's when he was matched up against smaller defenders.


    That said, what the Rockets won't do in Game 2 on Wednesday night is change what they've done all year and what led to them winning a franchise-record 65 games in the regular season to earn the top-seed.


    ''We are who we are, and we're pretty good at it,'' D'Antoni said. ''We can't get off who we are. Embrace it. Just be a better (version) of who we are and don't worry if somebody else solves the puzzle a different way ... we've got to play at our strengths.''


    For the defending champion Warriors, they masterfully answered the challenge of opening a playoff series on the road for the first time since 2014. After falling behind by nine points early in front of a raucous Houston crowd, they settled down and led for most of the second half en route to the victory.


    But playing in a franchise-record fourth straight conference finals, the Warriors know that they can't let up after wrestling homecourt advantage away from the Rockets.


    ''That was a big win. We're not going to downplay it,'' Thompson said. ''But we're not satisfied. We have a golden opportunity tomorrow to take a good lead. You have to have a short memory in the playoffs, because the next game will come at you fast, and it might feel good to win, but it's a seven-game series for a reason.''


    Now they believe they're up for an even bigger test in Game 2, with the Rockets desperate not to head to Oakland in a 0-2 hole. But they insist they won't approach this game any differently than they did the opener.


    ''I think the game really came down to staying solid and allowing our talent to shine through,'' coach Steve Kerr said. ''We have so many gifted players, that as long as we're solid with the ball, we don't make mistakes, defend with intensity, then our talent's going to take over.''


    To counteract all of that talent, the Rockets must find a way to get more players involved offensively to provide support for Harden. Chris Paul scored 23 points on Monday, but P.J. Tucker and Trevor Ariza, who combined to average almost 18 points in Houston's first 10 postseason games, managed just nine points combined in Game 1.


    Part of the struggles came from Ariza getting into foul trouble early, picking up his fifth foul with about 10 minutes left in the third quarter. While the Rockets still expect Durant to get his points, they hope Ariza will be able to stay on the floor more on Wednesday to try and make him work harder for them.


    The Rockets insist that they aren't going to let the disappointment of their loss in the opener bleed into Game 2. Harden took it upon himself to check in with his teammates after Game 1, calling them up to see if they had their heads in the right place and remind them that there's a lot more to play for.


    ''I wanted to make sure that they're good and they're in a good place,'' he said. ''All the guys seem happy and motivated. So we watch film, we can correct some things, and (Wednesday) we should be better.''
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  24. #1724  
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    WEDNESDAY, MAY 16
    GAME TIME(ET) PICK UNITS



    GS at HOU 09:00 PM


    GS +2.0


    U 224.5
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  25. #1725  
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    Rockets rout Warriors to tie West Finals
    May 16, 2018



    HOUSTON (AP) James Harden and Eric Gordon each scored 27 points to lead a balanced attack and the Houston Rockets routed the Golden State Warriors 127-105 on Wednesday night to even the Western Conference finals at one game apiece.


    The Rockets didn't trail after the first quarter and led by double digits for most of the night. They head to Oakland, California for Game 3 on Sunday night feeling much better after rebounding from a deflating 119-106 loss in the series opener.


    ''We can beat anybody, anywhere at any time playing the way we play,'' coach Mike D'Antoni said.


    P.J. Tucker added a playoff career-high 22 and Trevor Ariza had 19 as both bounced back after struggling in Game 1. Tucker had just one point in that game and Ariza scored eight, but was limited on defense after collecting his fifth foul early in the third quarter.


    Kevin Durant had 38 points after scoring 37 in the opener, but Stephen Curry and Klay Thompson combined for just 24 points after the pair went for 46 in Game 1.


    Houston wasn't able to slow down Durant, but did a much better job of limiting open 3-pointers by Thompson and Curry, and the two made just 3 of 12 attempts.


    ''They were desperate tonight and played like it, and we weren't and it showed,'' Golden State coach Steve Kerr said.


    The Warriors made three free throws to get within 11 early in the fourth quarter before the Rockets scored the next 11 points, with 3s from Gordon, Tucker and Harden to make it 111-89 with about 6 1/2 minutes to play.


    Durant made a basket after that, but Houston scored the next eight points to extend the lead to 119-91 with about five minutes left.


    The Warriors got frustrated in that stretch, with Durant getting a technical for shoving Harden in the back and Draymond Green pushing Ariza out of bounds seconds later. It was then that Kerr sent all of his starters to the bench for good.


    Gordon came off the bench to make six 3-pointers, Tucker tied a playoff best with five and Harden added three.


    Houston avoided losing consecutive games for the first time this postseason and the Warriors lost in the second game of a playoff series for the first time since the 2015 NBA Finals, snapping a 10-game winning streak in such games.


    ''We got outplayed the whole game ... we got it handed to us,'' Kerr said. ''You can look at it any way you want ... and parcel it out, but it didn't matter who we had out there tonight we got beat.''


    Houston led by as many as 19 in the first half and was up 64-50 at halftime. The Warriors cut it to 74-64 with five quick points from Durant, but the Rockets opened it back up to 89-72 when Gordon made an off-balance layup before crashing to the court while being fouled and made the free throw.


    The Rockets were up by 16 to start the fourth quarter but Golden State got within 98-86 with about 10 minutes left. Curry had five points in that span, including his first 3 after missing his first six attempts of the night.


    Curry finished with 16 points and Thompson was 3 for 11 for his eight points.


    TIP-INS


    Warriors: It was Durant's 19th straight playoff game with at least 20 points. ... Curry made one 3-pointer to extend his NBA playoff record of 81 straight playoff games with at least one 3-pointer. ... Durant and Curry were Golden State's only players with more than 10 points.


    Rockets: Houston improved to 8-0 this postseason when leading after three quarters. ... Houston made 16 of 42 3-point attempts. ... Paul finished with 16 points.


    UP NEXT


    After Game 3, the teams will play Game 4 on Tuesday night in Oakland before returning to Houston for Game 5 on Thursday.
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