Magic needs some or bye

May 13, 2008 7:00 PM

Bettin’ on B’ball by Andy Iskoe | As we go to press on Monday only one second-round series was in position to be wrapped up within the next few days as Detroit hosts Orlando on Tuesday holding a 3-1 lead over the Magic.

Two other series are tied at two games apiece as the series between New Orleans and San Antonio and between Utah and the Los Angeles Lakers have now become a best-of-3.

Boston was in position Monday night to take a 3-1 lead back home to Boston if able to win Game 4 in Cleveland. The Celtics are slight two-point underdogs to get that win and their underdog status is justified.

In 15 second-round games, the home team is 14-1 straight up and 12-2-1 against the spread. The push was Utah’s Game 3 win last Friday over the Lakers. Of the 14 wins, 10 were by double digits.

This extraordinary level of home team success would seemingly make it very hazardous to play on road teams, both SU and ATS. But as things tend to balance out over time, the value for the balance of this series may rest with the road team.

Note that in this past regular season, ignoring point spread pushes, the winner of the game covered the spread just over 82 percent of the time. Thus far in the playoffs that rate is currently at just over 91 percent.

Cavaliers vs Celtics

Boston figures to be a solid play back home in Game 5 Wednesday night either up 3-1 and looking to close out Cleveland or if tied 2-2 and trying to regain the series lead. In either case the Celtics figure to be about 10-point favorites.

Should there be a Game 6 back in Cleveland, the Cavs would be the play as likely a small favorite to force a deciding Game 7 back in Boston.

Recap: Boston in Game 5. Cleveland if there’s a Game 6. Boston if there’s a Game 7.

Magic vs Pistons

Orlando’s Jameer Nelson has "guaranteed" a Magic win in Tuesday’s Game 5 in Detroit in which Orlando faces elimination. While the Magic may come up short in delivering on that guarantee, taking Orlando +7 is attractive.

Should Orlando win and force Game 6 back in Orlando, the Magic would again be the play as a small favorite to force a deciding Game 7 back in Detroit.

Recap: Orlando +7 in Game 5. Orlando if there is a Game 6. Detroit -5 or less if there’s a Game 7 or Orlando +7 or more.

Spurs vs Hornets

San Antonio showed its experience with a pair of double-digit wins back home, including an impressive 100-80 victory in Game 4 that tied the series at 2. In Game 5, the Hornets are a small favorite at home.

This is a tough game to forecast as San Antonio’s experience is offset by the strong home court in the playoffs.

At a line of -3 we are basically asked to pick the straight up winner. The preference is for the Spurs to gain that 3-2 edge and for them to wrap up the series back home in Game 6.

If this scenario unfolds the line will again be the guide, laying five or less with the Spurs and taking seven or more with the Hornets. If there is a Game 7 back in New Orleans, the line likely will be close to pick’em. In such a case under would be the most attractive play.

Recap: San Antonio in Game 5. San Antonio -5 at the most in Game 6 or New Orleans +7 or higher If there is a Game 7, play under.

Jazz vs Lakers

The Lakers’ Kobe Bryant was banged up in Utah’s overtime win in Game 4 that evened their series at two games apiece.

Bryant should be fine for Game 5 in which the Lakers are 9-point favorites. Utah is worth a look.

The Lakers would be worth taking as underdogs in Game 6 if looking to wrap up the series. If Utah is in position to eliminate the Lakers in Game 6, the Jazz are playable as long as they are no more than 3-point favorites.

Recap: Utah in Game 5. Utah at -3 tops in Game 6. LA in Game 7 laying no more than 7. If double digits, Utah.

Next week: Playoff scenarios reassessed and possible conference finals previews.