San Antoniobest in West

May 31, 2005 6:28 AM

Barring an unprecedented comeback by the Phoenix Suns, the Western Conference shall be represented by San Antonio.

The Spurs, seeking their third championship in seven seasons, have all but eliminated the Suns. San Antonio holds a commanding 3-0 series as we went to press prior to Monday night’s Game 4.

Should Phoenix pull the upset in San Antonio and return home for a fifth game Wednesday night, the Suns would be worth backing to at least prolong the series one more game. The confidence gained from avoiding a sweep (and doing so on the road) should provide enough boost for at least one home win.

If the results should play out this way, then San Antonio would become a solid play back at home in Game 6 to end the series convincingly and with a strong defensive effort. We might not get that opportunity, but a play in Game 6 on San Antonio and "under" would present great value from a situational handicapping scenario.

Things are much tighter and more competitive in the East, where Miami holds a 2-1 edge in games over Detroit heading into Tuesday night’s Game 4 at The Palace in Auburn Hills. The first three games have all been tightly contested and decided late. Each of the games were tied or within a couple of points in the latter half of the fourth quarter. Detroit was able to execute down the stretch in Game 1. Miami was better in enforcing its will in Games 2 and 3, despite the presence of Pistons fan and rock/country star Kid Rock.

Detroit would be the play in Game 4 as a 5½ to six point favorite to tie the series at 2-2 heading back to Miami. The series would then come down to a best of three conclusion. Detroit was the pick here several weeks ago to represent the East in the NBA Finals and remain the choice. However, to win in six games, the Pistons would now have to win three straight. This can be done by the defending champions with two of those next three games at home. Should Miami win Game 4 and lead 3-1 returning home, the Heat would be solid favorites to make it to the Finals.

Clearly we can expect a strong effort from Detroit in Game 4 and, if successful in winning, would also be the play as small underdogs in Game 5 in Miami. Should the Heat win Game 4 and return home up 3-1, the better play might be "over" the total. The Pistons would be forced to play at a pace dictated by the Heat, with Miami looking to end the series at home.

Next week we should have a much better idea of how the NBA Finals will be shaping up. Depending upon how things unfold this week, the two teams that will battle for the NBA Title for the 2004-05 season may have already been determined.