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Utah's Sloan hopes history repeats

Behind the lines

May 09, 2008|Lonnie White | Times Staff Writer

The Lakers may have looked unbeatable in taking a 2-0 lead over Utah, but the best-of-seven series is far from over based on NBA playoff history. Just ask Jazz Coach Jerry Sloan or Las Vegas oddsmakers.

In 1971, Sloan was a veteran guard playing for the Chicago Bulls, who faced the Lakers in the Western Conference semifinals. With Gail Goodrich leading the way, the Lakers won the first two games in Los Angeles, but when the series moved to Chicago, Sloan helped lead the Bulls to consecutive victories.

Two wins at home for one team. Two wins at home for the other. It's a scenario that has happened numerous times over years in the postseason.

Las Vegas oddsmakers know this all too well. That's why Utah -- which had the best homecourt record in the league during the regular season -- is listed as a four-point favorite over the Lakers for tonight's Game 3 at EnergySolutions Arena.

Sloan's team has a couple of point-spread trends working in its favor.

The Jazz, which won 37 of 41 home games during the regular season, is 14-3-1 against the spread in its last 18 games as a home favorite of 4.5 points or fewer and 7-2-1 against the spread in its last 10 playoff games as a favorite overall.

The Lakers, who have won 10 consecutive games, have played very well when they haven't been favored this season. They are 7-1 against the spread in their last eight games as a road underdog and 21-8-1 against the spread in their last 30 games as an underdog overall.

Soccer

If oddsmakers are correct, Manchester United will complete a rare European soccer double of winning the Champions League title and English Premier League championship in the same year.

Manchester United and Chelsea are tied for first in the EPL, but Manchester will win the trophy with a victory at Wigan because of a superior goal difference over Chelsea, which will play Bolton this weekend.

Manchester is listed at 1-6 to win the EPL with Chelsea at 2-7, according to Sportsbetting.com.

On May 21, Manchester and Chelsea will meet in the Champions League championship game in Moscow, and United is listed as the 11-8 favorite. Chelsea is listed at 1-1.

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lonnie.white@latimes.com

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