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Behind the lines

Cavaliers draw betting action

May 18, 2008|Lonnie White | Times Staff Writer

History may be on the side of the Boston Celtics, but that's not stopping bettors from supporting the Cleveland Cavaliers for today's Game 7 of their Eastern Conference semifinals.

The Celtics, who have won an NBA-record 16 championships, are listed as eight-point favorites and are playing at home, where they have a 15-3 all-time record in Game 7s.

Yet, it's Cleveland -- which won Game 6 on its home floor on Friday -- that had received 60% of the bets against the spread as of Saturday afternoon, according to theSpread.com.

At wagerline.com, the Cavaliers -- who have covered the point line four games in a row in the series -- had 57.3% of the picks against the spread.

Game 7 is also getting steady action with over/under combined points total bets.

That's because after only 143 total points were scored in Game 6, today's total of 174.5 looks pretty high.

Another trend is Boston's defense at home. In seven home playoff games, the Celtics are giving up 77 points per game with a single-game high of 89, scored by the Cavaliers in Game 5.

Also, in the Celtics' last 11 games at home, the under is 8-3 and in Boston's last 15 games against teams from the Central Division, the under is 11-4.

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Odds for the NBA Finals most valuable player have been updated and the Lakers' Kobe Bryant is listed as an 8-5 favorite at Sportsbetting.com.

Bryant, who won the league's regular-season MVP award, is followed by Boston's Kevin Garnett at 5-2, with the Lakers' Pau Gasol, Boston's Paul Pierce and Detroit's Richard Hamilton and Chauncey Billups each listed at 7-1.

The player with the worst odds listed? Cleveland's LeBron James at 20-1.

Baseball

Interleague play began this week and one of the schedule's most overlooked matchups has been the Lone Star series, featuring Houston against Texas at Rangers Ballpark in Arlington.

The Astros, who were in second place behind the Chicago Cubs in the National League Central through Friday's games, have been one of baseball's best hitting teams over the first quarter of the season.

Sparked by the bat of Lance Berkman, the team leader in batting average, home runs and runs batted in, Houston had the third-highest run total in the National League before Saturday.

But the Astros' problem has been pitching depth behind ace starter Roy Oswalt.

Heading into this weekend, opponents were hitting .269 off the Astros' pitching staff, which ranked 12th in the NL, and their team earned-run average of 4.32 ranked 21st out of 30 major league teams.

For Las Vegas oddsmakers, this combination of big bats and shaky pitching has led to inflated over/under odds for many of Houston's games this season.

That's one reason why the under had a 23-19-1 record for the first 43 games involving the Astros.

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lonnie.white@latimes.com

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