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Hardcourt Happenings

   by Matt Fargo - 04/18/2007

Final Day NBA Action

The final regular season games take place this week and with most of the playoff positions in place, a lot of these games are meaningless. Meaningless to some has a lot meaning to others and the bettors fall into that ‘other’ category. You will notice that lines are available for only a handful of the games when they first come out and the remainder are not available until the next afternoon. This is to make sure a bad number is not put out. You also see teams in must-win spots having their lines increased by significant amounts.

One area to look at is the final day of the regular season where this year there are 14 games on the slate. One would think that this being the final game for most teams, it would mean a playground style but that has hardly been the case. Since 2002-03, the average score posted in the final game has been 188.8 ppg with 2004-05 showing the highest average of 192.9 ppg. 2003-04 was the only season where the average score in the final day was higher than the season scoring average. 2002-03 was 7.7 ppg less, 2004-05 was 1.3 ppg less and 2005-06 was 6.1 ppg less.

What does this tell us? It says that the majority of the games play under the total including last season where the games went 9-4-1 under. Some key things to look at are which teams heading into the playoffs are resting players, injuries to starters and the significance of the game if any at all. Taking these into consideration can definitely bring out some bad numbers given out by the linesmakers.

Bad Beats Far Too Common in the NBA

The last few weeks has seen a great number of blown 4th quarter covers and the reason I’ve been so aware is that I’ve been on the wrong side of the majority of those. At the same time, there are the ones who happened to be on the right side of these games and congratulations if that is the case. The dreaded list:

**On March 27th, Minnesota had a comfortable 25-point lead in the third quarter and led by 15 points entering the final quarter. The Timberwolves were outscored 35-12 in the final period to not only lose the 6.5-point cover, but also the game outright.

**On April 4th, the Knicks trailed the entire game before looking like they were going to pull away in the fourth quarter as they built a nine-point lead. It was just a tease however as the Sixers went on an 11-2 run and eventually pulled it out.

**On April 6th, the Jazz were defeating the Kings by eight points at the end of the third quarter as 3.5-point favorite only to see it disappear as Sacramento used a 32-21 4th quarter to pull off the upset. Utah actually led by as many as 17 points.

**In the same night, Memphis was catching six points against Golden St. and it looked as though the cover was in the bag. The Grizzlies had a two-point lead at the end of three and extended it to five with 10 minutes left but were outscored 26-9 the rest of the way to lose by 12.

**The next night, the Clippers were well on their way as they had a 15-point lead over Denver and an eight-point lead after three quarters but went over five minutes without scoring and were outscored 30-19 in the 4th and lost by three.

**On April 11th, the Rockets were out for revenge at Portland and they were getting it as they built a 25-point lead and led by 19 points heading into the final quarter. Portland then went off and nearly won the game thanks to a 36-21 edge in the final 12 minutes.

**Last but certainly not least took place on Sunday as Golden St. was laying a big number against Minnesota. The Warriors were up by 40 at the end of the 3rd quarter as 16-point favorites only to see the Timberwolves outscore them 42-15 in the 4th quarter to make it 13 and get the cover.

Western Conference vs. Eastern Conference

Dallas and Phoenix are clearly the two top teams in the league and both reside in the Western Conference but after that, are the conferences really that dissimilar? The answer is a resounding yes. Of the playoff teams (using Golden St. in this example), the Western Conference went a combined 161-79 against their counterpart while the Eastern Conference went just 118-122 against the west. Detroit, Cleveland and Miami were the only teams to post a winning record while on the other side, only Los Angeles and Golden St. had losing records.

The Western Conference has had a decisive edge the last few seasons since the Bulls reign ended and the conference won the first five champions following that. Two of the last three have been won by the Eastern Conference, Detroit over Los Angeles in a huge upset in 2003-04 and Miami over Dallas in another upset last season. The law of averages says the Western Conference takes it this year and it’s hard to argue that with the power on top. The first four seeds in the Western Conference have a combined 96-24 record against the Eastern Conference.

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