No Jewel

Jun 10, 2003 7:34 AM

The NBA Finals is assured of going at least five games following New Jersey and San Antonio splitting the first two games in Texas.

The next three games are all to be played in New Jersey and no team has ever swept. San Antonio has taken the first step toward accomplishing the feat following its 84-79 road win this past Sunday.

Game 4 will be played this Wednesday with Game 5 scheduled for Friday at the Meadowlands. If New Jersey is able to win either contest, the sixth game will be in San Antonio next Sunday.

Thus far the only impressive effort was San Antonio’s solid win in the opening game. Since then the teams have traded victories in contests either team could have won in the closing minutes. The Spurs could be up 3-0 as easily as New Jersey could be leading 2-1.

Clearly the Nets have shown they can compete with the Spurs for a full 48 minutes. Jason Kidd is showing that he deserves consideration as one of the best players in the league. Despite some poor shooting in this series (never his strength anyway) his leadership abilities are the reason the Nets are in the Finals for the second straight season.

Still, Kidd has to shoulder some of the blame for the present New Jersey deficit. His Spurs counterpart, Tony Parker, has elevated his game in the Finals.

From a wagering perspective, the Nets figure to be a popular play in Game 4. Should New Jersey even the series at two apiece, San Antonio will be the fashionable play in Game 5. That would continue the pattern of alternating wins in the series.

Should the Spurs win Game 4 and take a 3-1 lead, they would be on the verge of both winning the NBA Finals in 5. If such were the case, the Nets would be worth playing in that fifth contest. History isn’t history for a reason.

The UNDER continues to be the preferred Totals play.

Game 1 went OVER in the closing seconds but was played at an UNDER pace all the way. Game 2 went UNDER by 15 points and Game 3 went UNDER by 22 after the lines maker made a two-point adjustment downwards.

There has been another two-point adjustment for Game 4 with the Total opening at 183. At a line of 181 or higher the UNDER should still be considered as the Totals play.