NBA: Pistons continue one-sided Betting Trend



2008-05-05

In Game 1 of their NBA second round playoff series, the Pistons had their way with the Magic, controlling the contest for nearly the full 48 minutes en route to a 19-point win. The betting public took notice, as nearly 90% of that group at Sportsbook.com love Detroit again on Monday.

The Detroit-Orlando series is not as intriguing as the other three matchups in the NBA playoffs. The Pistons and Magic are trying to change that. A day after Detroit beat Orlando 91-72 in Game 1 of their second-round series, players on both teams took verbal swipes at each other. Magic forward Rashard Lewis took down Theo Ratliff with a physical foul midway through the fourth quarter, and Jason Maxiell quickly got in Lewis' face with a menacing look and choice words.

Ratliff said he didn't need Maxiell's assistance. "There's no sense in guys coming to my rescue," Ratliff said Sunday. "I mean, that was Rashard Lewis. He's a 3 man." What Ratliff said was relayed to Lewis and the small forward fired back. "You can have a lot of energy in five minutes a game," Lewis said. "What's he played? 15 games? Tell him to come out and guard me."

Detroit signed the 6-foot-10 Ratliff in March after the center reached a buyout agreement with the Minnesota Timberwolves, and he played in 16 games for the team that drafted him in 1995. Ratliff was one of four players the Pistons successfully sent at Dwight Howard, slowing him down after his performances in the first round drew comparisons to famed NBA players. In the first quarter against Detroit, Howard had six points, five rebounds and three blocks. The rest of the game, he scored just six points, grabbed three rebounds and didn't swat a shot.

Howard's 12 points were the fewest he scored during this postseason and his eight rebounds marked a career low in 10 playoff games. His lackluster game led to Orlando scoring a season-worst 72 points, 13 fewer than its previous low. The Magic are 8-0 against the spread off a road loss by 10 or more points.

Howard averaged 22.6 points, 18.2 rebounds and 3.8 blocks against Toronto— helping Orlando advance in the playoffs for the first time since 1996. Howard scored 20 points and grabbed 20 rebounds in three games against the Raptors, becoming the first player to pull off the feat in the postseason since Wilt Chamberlain did in 1972.

Pistons coach Flip Saunders started with Jason Maxiell guarding Howard before sending Rasheed Wallace, Antonio McDyess and Ratliff at him.

"Dwight is an imposing player, but we've played against some of the Hall of Famers so it's not really something we worry about," Ratliff said. Maxiell explained matter-of-factly how Detroit made the 6-11, 265-pound Howard look ordinary. "He's has a very strong upper body," Maxiell said. "But if you get down low and take his legs out, he's not that powerful." Howard bristled at the suggestion that his lower body is weak. "That's not true," Howard said. "Trust me." What is true is the Pistons are 11-3 ATS after allowing 90 points or less three in straight games and even better when they surrender 85 or less, with perfect 10-0 against the spread mark.

Howard also needs help from the perimeter. The Magic set an NBA record by making at least five 3-pointers in every game, led the league by making nearly 10 3's a game and attempted 25 shots from beyond the arc to trail only Golden State. Orlando was 2-of-15 on 3-pointers in the series opener against Detroit.

"They're a finesse team," Ratliff said. "They're a 3-point shooting team." Like Howard, Orlando point guard Jameer Nelson took exception with Ratliff's assessment. "Who? Who?" Nelson asked mockingly when Ratliff's comments were repeated by reporters. "I'm getting sick and tired of people calling us soft." Orlando will have an opportunity to show what they are made of since they are 14-1 ATS off a road loss.

Nelson might also grow tired of hearing some say he and his teammates can't guard Chauncey Billups or Richard Hamilton. Billups scored a game-high 19 points Saturday night, even though he rested during the lopsided fourth quarter, and Hamilton had 17 points to outscore Orlando's starting backcourt by 25. Almost at will, Billups blew past Nelson off the dribble and Hamilton curled around screens to get open for mid-range jumpers against Maurice Evans.

"Chauncey drove the ball and he's a very strong guy so if he gets an angle and drops that shoulder, good luck getting in front of him," Magic coach Stan Van Gundy said. "Rip around screens is the best in the league. Since Reggie Miller retired, he's the best catch-and-shoot player coming off screens in the NBA." Detroit might be on one of those streaks and is 13-4 ATS this season after covering eight or more of their last 10 against the spread.

Detroit is a six-point pick at Sportsbook.com with total of 185 and has won nine consecutive playoff contests versus Orlando, with 6-1-2 ATS record. The Pistons have raised their record to 6-2 ATS in Eastern Conference semis and is 6-1 ATS in last seven encounters at the Palace of Auburn Hills. Orlando will to rebound quickly or be in all too familiar 0-2 spot versus Detroit. The Magic are 15-7-1 ATS in most recent road dog situations.

TNT will provide the Monday coverage starting a 7:05 Eastern.

StatFox Power Line Detroit by 7

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