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Apr 21, 2001 7:02 PM

S.O.B. Picks
Saturday April 21:

The NBA playoffs are here and it’s time to get down to business. Let’s take a look at all eight best-of-5 first-round series. We did get the last 13 of 17 regular-season games right, so we’re on a roll and getting a good feel of what’s going to happen.

Overall final regular season record: 126-128-5
Wednesday’s record: 5-2.

Eastern Conference first round series

Indiana vs. Philadelphia: This series is going to be close. Philadelphia did dominate Indiana in match-ups this season, but look for the Pacers to have some pride. Philly should do all right at home, but will struggle in Indiana. Pacers in 5.

Toronto vs. New York The Raptors are better than last year. They played the Knicks tough in last year’s playoffs, even though Toronto was swept. Toronto is more athletic and the Knicks are not as good as last year. Raptors in 4.

Orlando vs. Milwaukee The Bucks dominated this series in the regular season and it should be no different in the playoffs. The Magic will win a close game at home, but that’s it. Bucks in 4.

Charlotte vs. Miami Normally, Charlotte would be a good play in this series, but the Hornets are struggling. Miami has momentum right now. This will be a war and it will go five with each team winning one game on the road. But Miami prevails in the decider. Heat in 5.

Western Conference first round series

Minnesota vs. San Antonio The Timberwolves are the best No. 8 seed ever. They would give Milwaukee and Philadelphia a tough series, if not winning them. But they are facing the Spurs. San Antonio is the best team in the league. Spurs in 3.

Portland vs. L.A. Lakers Portland is in a funk right now, and the Lakers are clicking. The Blazers’ motivation from last year’s loss won’t be enough. Shaquille O’Neal is hitting his free throws, and that’s 10 points a game for L.A. Lakers in 4.

Phoenix vs. Sacramento The Kings are just the better team here and really want to get past the first round. The Kings also match-up well with the Suns. Suns in 4.

Dallas vs. Utah The Mavericks are on the move up, while the Jazz are on the way down. Getting Juwan Howard for Dallas will be the difference. This will be a tough series, but the Mavericks have too much here. Get ready to see a lot of Mark Cuban cheering. (Yikes!) Mavericks in 5.

Down the road, look for Milwaukee and Toronto to meet in the Eastern Conference finals and San Antonio and the L.A. Lakers to meet in the Western finals. In the East semis, Milwaukee beats Miami in six, while Toronto upsets Philly in six. In the West semis, San Antonio beat Dallas in five, while the Lakers beat the Kings in seven. In the East finals, Milwaukee beat Toronto in five, while San Antonio beats the Lakers in seven. In the finals, San Antonio beats Milwaukee in five. Let’s look at Saturday’s games:

Saturday’s Game 1 of first round

Indiana Pacers +7½ at Philadelphia Sixers: This is a good line, but the Pacers have more playoff experience and that will make it a close game. Play Pacers +7½.

Dallas Mavericks +3½ at Utah Jazz: The Mavericks will make this close, if not win it. The Jazz have playoff experience, but the Mavericks have more weapons. Play Mavericks +3½.

San Antonio Spurs +9 vs. Minnesota Timberwolves: The Spurs will come out and win this thing easily. The Timberwolves are struggling right now. Play Spurs +9.

Charlotte Hornets +5½ at Miami Heat: This line is a couple points too high. This should be a close meeting. The Heat will come in a little too confident. Play Hornets +5½.


THE SABER’S EDGE: MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL
By Richard Saber

Saturday, April 21, 2001
Chicago Cubs over the Pirates
San Francisco Giants over the Brewers
Oakland A’s over the Rangers
Toronto Blue Jays over the Royals
Dog of the Day: Minnesota Twins over White Sox
Astros/Cardinals OVER 12
Red Sox/Yankees UNDER 9