Form shouldn’t hold in NBA Round 2

May 9, 2006 4:30 AM

Form held up almost perfectly in the opening round of the NBA playoffs.

The top four seeds in the East all advanced to the second round, while three of the top four from the West were similarly successful.

The only higher seed to lose was Denver but its third seeding in the West was due only to having been a division champ. The sixth seeded Los Angeles Clippers had a better record and such had the home court advantage. The Clippers were favored to defeat the Nuggets and did so rather easily in five games to advance past the first round for the first time in 30 years when the franchise was located in Buffalo, NY.

San Antonio eked out a two point home win over Dallas in the West’s 1 vs.4 matchup, while Detroit humiliated Cleveland in the East’s 1 vs. 4. The other two series are Miami-New Jersey and Phoenix-LA Clippers.

Cavaliers vs Pistons

Detroit has been the class of the NBA since day one and should have little difficulty getting past the young and improving Cavaliers. LeBron James continues to blossom into a great player. Having gotten his team into the second round, James has already stamped the Cavs as a team to beware next season. James was spectacular for most of the first round series against Washington — one of the rare times in recent sports history that the athlete lived up to the hype.

From a betting standpoint, back Cleveland in Game 3 at home. Regardless of that result, then play Detroit in Game 4. Unless the Cavs pull a major upset, they should return home down 0-2 in the series. Should they win Game 3, expect Detroit to rebound in similar fashion to the opening round performance against Milwaukee. Result: Should the Pistons go up 3-0, they are likely to complete the four game sweep.

Mavericks vs Spurs

The San Antonio/Dallas series should be much more competitive, likely going six or perhaps the full seven. The teams split four games in the regular season with each winning once on the road. Game 1 was as tightly contested and we might see the teams trade wins through the first four. Dallas will be attractive at home as an underdog in Game 3 and again in Game 4 if trailing in the series 2-1 or 3-0.

Result: Look for San Antonio to win in 6 with possible Game 5 back at home being the most one- sided of the series.

Nets vs. Heat

New Jersey had two double digit winning streaks during the regular season and have three star players in Jason Kidd, Richard Jefferson and Vince Carter to combat Miami’s Dwyane Wade and Shaquille O’Neal. Shaq’s age and chronic injury issues are showing with his inconsistent play on a game to game basis. The Nets fared well against Miami this season, winning three of the four meetings by at least seven points.

Miami’s only win over the Nets was by 1 in the season’s first week. New Jersey covered all four meetings and three stayed UNDER the total. If Miami won Game 1, New Jersey would be the play in both Game 2 and 3. If the Nets win Game 1, sit out Game 2 and back New Jersey in Game 3.

Result: New Jersey to win in no more than 6.

Clippers vs. Suns:

The teams split four regular season meetings, each winning once both at home and on the road. The Clippers main ”˜weakness’ is a lack of playoff experience, but that did not hamper them against Denver. And the backcourt tandem of Cuttino Mobley and Sam Cassell have playoff experience from their time on other teams. In winning their opening series in seven games against the Lakers, the Suns scored at least 107 points in each of their four wins.

The Clippers may have their best values in Game 2 and 3 if losing the opener. If up 1-0, it might be best to pass Game 2 and back the Clippers in Game 3 at home if favored by no more than 2. The OVER at 210 or less may be considered in the series as a playable option.

In regular season meetings the total increased progressively (192, 214, 221, 224). Although Playoff games are lower scoring in general, the Clippers and Suns are likely to run the court often. Result: If able to split the first two in Phoenix, look for Clippers to win in 6.