Tuesday NBA Previews

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The schedule is jam-packed with NBA Playoff action this week. There are three games scheduled nightly through Friday, and then we're back to Grand Slams on both Saturday and Sunday. Be sure you're with us EVERY DAY for stat previews here in the NOTEBOOK!

Today we focus on Game two action in Boston, Orlando, and Dallas. The series openers were very interesting in all three series. Let's see if key indicator stats from the boxscores suggest possibilities for what may happen this evening...

GAME TWO: NEW YORK AT BOSTON
Boston leads 1-0
Vegas Line: Boston by 7, total of 193

Normally you see line movement toward the dog if they drop the series opener. But, normally the dog doesn't lose its starting point guard to injury. Chauncey Billups went down very late in Game One with a knee injury. The market has priced this game like he won't be back. We probably would have seen a drop to as low as Boston -4 if Billups was healthy. The Celtics trailed most of Sunday, and were very lucky to pull the game out of the fire late. The total has dropped five points from the opener, mostly because the first game was played at a much slower pace than expected. Under bettors won Sunday by 26 points!

BOSTON 87, NEW YORK 85
Shooting Percentage: New York 42%, Boston 44%
Three-Pointers: New York 8/23, Boston 5/13
Free Throws: New York 11/16, Boston 12/18
Rebounds: New York 34, Boston 44
Turnovers: New York 14, Boston 16
Vegas Line: Boston by 6, total of 198
Notebook: It seems like we start every day with a reminder that 'defense and rebounding wins championships.'Boston has won the East two of the last three years because of that. You can see here that they held New York to 42% shooting and won rebounding 44-34. So, Boston is clearly the better of these teams at a playoff style. That being said, all of that almost got them a cup of coffee and a loss Sunday. The Celtics were very sluggish offensively most of the night considering they were playing a bad New York defense. Boston looks even older and slower now that they don't trust their bench very much. The aging starters have to pace themselves for the long haul.

We've been running computer simulations with and without Billups in the game. We don't have much of a sample size to go with because Billups hasn't been a Knick for very long. He did miss some time after the trade, and New York didn't show much of a drop off. He's also had some bad games when healthy, and had just played a bad game when he got hurt! Our math has us thinking about the dog at this price. But, we need to hear from our New York sources about the team's mindset and strategy without Billups before we post a final play.

We'll think about the Under given the slow pace, and the possibility that New York's offense takes a hit without the experienced Billups steering the offense in crunch time.

GAME TWO: ATLANTA AT ORLANDO
ATLANTA leads 1-0
Vegas Line: Orlando by 8.5, total of 182.5

The line has only moved a smidge off the first game numbers of 9 and 181. Orlando is obviously in the must-win bounce back situation. But, it's hard to bet on them given their inconsistent play down the stretch of the regular season, and their poor team defense outside of the great Dwight Howard. Atlanta has some shooters. They shot very well Saturday. If Orlando can't stop the onslaught of jumpers, this line is way too high. If Atlanta takes a game off because they got the service break they wanted with the road win, then the Magic will win by double digits.

ATLANTA 103, ORLANDO 93
Shooting Percentage: Atlanta 51%, Orlando 45%
Three-Pointers: Atlanta 6/14, Orlando 6/22
Free Throws: Atlanta 21/29, Orlando 19/30
Rebounds: Atlanta 29, Orlando 40
Turnovers: Atlanta 9, Orlando 18
Vegas Line: Orlando by 9, total of 181
Notebook: Orlando used to be a defense and rebounding team. Well, Howard is a defense and rebounding juggernaut! You see the big edge on the boards even in a loss Saturday. Howard can't guard everybody though. Atlanta had very balanced scoring and spread out their shooters in away that generated a lot of open looks. These weren't looks from behind the arc, as Atlanta shot only 14 treys. They were outside the paint but inside the arc. Orlando's poor defenders were always a step or two slow as Atlanta passed the ball around.

Let's note the turnover category. Orlando did a horrible job of protecting the ball. Much of that is the fact that Dwight Howard doesn't have very good hands. You've probably seen that silly NBA commercial with a talking ball that calls him 'handsy.'He's handsy grabbing the ball, but not doing things with it! It's rare for a big series favorite to match up so badly in an execution department. That's the case here though. Orlando is the more turnover prone team, and will have to overcome that by making a lot of treys. They'll need 9-10 to win, more than that to win comfortably unless Atlanta takes a game off here or there with series leads.

We're working closely with our on site sources to determine Atlanta's approach here. If they're in it to win it, we may have to take the dog at this high price. Orlando can get down in the dumps very quickly when things go sour. Stan Van Gundy's tendency to panic rarely helps. If Atlanta's now focused on winning their home games to take the series, discretion may be the better part of valor.

GAME TWO: PORTLAND AT DALLAS
Dallas leads 1-0
Vegas Line: Dallas by 4, total of 182.5

Dallas has come down a point from their -5 in the opener. The total has dropped a full four points. Game One had the slowest tempo of all series openers by a mile. And, it landed on 170 even though Dallas made a lot of three-pointers! Classic playoff strategies suggest the talented and motivated dog here. It's a little early in a series to expect everything to be in the 170's or lower. But, if both teams keep walking the ball up, maybe that's what's on tap.

DALLAS 89, PORTLAND 81
Shooting Percentage: Portland 46%, Dallas 41%
Three-Pointers: Portland 2/16, Dallas 10/19
Free Throws: Portland 9/13, Dallas 25/29
Rebounds: Portland 40, Dallas 39
Turnovers: Portland 13, Dallas 13
Vegas Line: Dallas by 5, total of 186.5
Notebook: Two things jump out here that are bad signs for Dallas fans. They won three-pointers by a huge margin in a way that probably won't be repeated very often. You can't shoot that well on purpose in this league if you're Dallas...and you probably won't go 2-16 again if you're Portland. Dallas was +24 points behind the arc in a game they won by only eight. What's going to happen with a more normal trey distribution?

Also, Dallas won made free throws 25-9 with 16 more attempts. It's not like Portland is a soft team and Dallas has a bunch of bruisers. THAT also is something we may not see again. Dirk Nowitzki gets respect from the refs...and maybe Dallas wins the category most nights. They can't count on +16 from the charity stripe.

Either one of those would suggest Portland makes sense plus the points tonight. BOTH!? Well, let's do some quick math. Portland won two-point scoring 66-34. If we dusted off 'Phantom Score' from the colleges (two-point scoring plus rebounding), we get Portland 106-73 as a 'secondary'score from the opener. Can Dallas keep picking up those bonus points on non-two's?

Clearly you're supposed to look at Portland here, and we will be. We'll make sure our on site sources agree. And, we'll double check with our trend historians to make sure we're not overrating the bounce back possibilities.

By the time you read this, our final Tuesday Night NBA slate will probably have been determined. Log in this afternoon to get the best plays on the board from a man who's dominated the NBA playoffs for 26 years! JIM HURLEY'S top plays are always available a few hours before the games start. There's no day baseball Tuesday, so you have plenty of time to get full value for your package whether you're only doing hoops or the two-sport combo. We've got Tuesday baseball underdog plays set to strike in both the American and National Leauge tonight. Be sure to check on our full playoff and baseball season rates. If you have any questions, call us in the office at 1-800-323-4453.

We're just a few days into the 2011 NBA postseason. That means THE WINNING IS JUST BEGINNING!

This article is part of the VSM MASTERS SERIES presented by VegasSportsMasters.com and JimHurley.com. For more information on JIM HURLEY'S handicapping packages, call 1-800-323-4453.

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