Pistons, Jazz about set for conference finals

May 15, 2007 8:43 AM

The Conference semifinals are winding up this week with Detroit and Utah in position to wrap up their series on Tuesday.

Each return home holding 3-1 leads over Chicago and Golden State respectively.

On Monday both Cleveland and San Antonio were looking to take similar 3-1 edges over their opponents New Jersey and Phoenix. The Cavaliers are on the road, while the Spurs host Phoenix.

The Conference finals are not scheduled to begin until early next week. Should the two West semifinals end by Friday, the first game of the Conference finals would be played Sunday.

BULLS vs PISTONS:

Detroit is favored to eliminate Chicago in Game 5 on Tuesday back home. After losing the first three to the Pistons, the Bulls finally played as they had for much of the second half of the season in winning Game 4 to avoid a sweep. It’s likely that Detroit will finish off the Chicago in Game 5, but the Bulls would be a good play back home in Game 6 if the series lasts that long.

Chicago would likely be a small favorite in Game 6. In 81 previous situations, no NBA team that lost the first three games of a best of seven has come back to win that series. It won’t happen here either. Detroit would be the play in Game 7 as a 5 to 6 point favorite. But the Pistons likely will be spending the remainder of this week resting for the Eastern Conference finals with a win Tuesday.

SUNS vs SPURS:

Monday’s game in San Antonio is a critical game for both the Suns and the Spurs. A win by San Antonio gives the Spurs a 3-1 lead heading back to Phoenix. A Phoenix win evens the series and -reclaims the home court advantage for the Suns. Phoenix is a very talented team and had a great regular season.

Regardless of what happened Monday in Game 4, Phoenix is a solid play back home in Game 5 and San Antonio would similarly be a strong play at home in Game 6. Should this series go the full 7, San Antonio would be an attractive play as an underdog if getting at least 4. The Spurs’ edge in experience also would be in their favor and likely enable their preferred defensive style to dictate tempo. The UNDER is also an attractive option for Game 7.

NETS vs CAVS:

New Jersey was favored to even their series against Cleveland at two games apiece on Monday. In losing twice in Cleveland, the Nets were right there in the fourth quarter yet the Cavs were able to win. New Jersey did the same in Game 3 back home. These teams are evenly matched and this series from the start has been the most likely to go the distance.

Should Cleveland have won Game 4 Monday in New Jersey, the Cavs would be a good play to wrap up the series back home in 5. But, if as the linesmaker expects, the series returns to Cleveland tied 2-2 and making this now a best of three series, the points could come into play. The Nets would be a nice underdog bet if getting at least the same 6 they received in Game 1.

The Nets would also be an attractive play back home in Game 6 if laying no more than 4, looking to either wrap up the series or force a Game 7. Cleveland would be the play in a seventh and deciding game back home Sunday if favored by no more than 5. Two of the first three games in the series went below the posted total. Look for the UNDER to continue to outnumber overs for the remainder of the series.

WARRIORS vs JAZZ

The dream late season run of Golden State is expected to end Tuesday in Utah, where the Jazz seek to eliminate the Warriors in Game 5. Solid late play in Game 4 enabled the Jazz to win on the road and return home in great shape. Golden State was in position to win either or both of the first two games in Utah, but the Jazz prevailed.

The Warriors have shown they can compete with Utah, but it could be different facing elimination on the road. That would make a play in Game 5 one best to avoid. Should the Warriors pull the upset and return home for Game5, then Golden State becomes an excellent play to force a Game 7.

The play in Game 7 would be determined by the line. Laying 4 or less Utah would be an attractive option. The Warriors become the choice at a line of +6 or more.