Down two points to the Magic after the first quarter in Game 1 on Thursday, Kobe Bryant came alive to fuel the Lakers on their way to a 100-75 rout over Orlando. Kobe scored 40, dished out eight assists and grabbed eight boards to lead the stat sheet while the Magic shot less than 30% on the evening. Game 2 on Sunday finds LA listed as 6½-point chalk with the public heavy on the Lakers already.
It didn’t take bettors long to weigh in on what they thought of the Los Angeles Lakers’ 100-75 throttling of the Orlando Magic in Game 1 of the NBA Finals on Thursday night.
Only moments after the Lakers drilled the Magic to cover easily as 6-point home chalk in Game 1, the public told oddsmakers their opinion on the 6½-point number for Sunday night’s Game 2 (8 PM ET, ABC). The response? Not bloody likely.
The spread for the opener remained virtually intact after sportsbooks set Los Angeles at -6 following Orlando’s closeout payday over the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 6 of the Eastern Conference Finals last Saturday. The line for Game 2 will most definitely be on the move after over 70% of wagers on the spread had come in on the Lakers into the wee hours of Friday morning.
Game 1 played well under the 205½-point total available at most books, although some of that has to do with Phil Jackson taking his foot off the gas for most of the fourth quarter. The under is now 9-2 in Los Angeles’ last 11 games, as the Lakers are now a profitable 6-13 O/U so far in the postseason for under bettors.
Did handicappers underestimate Kobe Bryant heading into the series? I know that sounds almost impossible, but Bryant was downright scary in Game 1, playing like a man possessed. Kobe finished with 40 points (16-for-34 FGs) to go along with eight rebounds and eight assists, including 18 points in the third quarter when the Lakers put the Magic away after leading 53-43 at halftime.
Courtney Lee was simply overmatched against Bryant, and while Mickael Pietrus did a better job, he ended the game -23 in the plus/minus column. Pietrus led Orlando with 14 points off the bench, as Dwight Howard put up 12 points and 15 boards for the Magic.
Problem is, Howard was only 1-for-6 from the floor (10-for-16 FTs), while he combined with Hedo Turkoglu and Rashard Lewis for a meager 33 points on 6-for-27 shooting. If the Magic’s leading men can’t do better in Game 2, we may as well cancel all wagers on the contest and simply move on to Disney World with L.A. up 2-0 in the series and at the window.
Point guard Jameer Nelson played 23 minutes in his first action in almost four months because of a torn labrum in his shoulder, and he was decent considering the stage. He finished with six points and four assists on 3-for-9 from the floor, although he was a dismal -19 despite not playing until the second quarter.
Lakers backers have to be pleased with the performance of the front line, which had its way with Howard and the Magic. Pau Gasol had 16 points and eight rebounds, while Lamar Odom was a +22 behind 11 points and 14 boards.
Andrew Bynum nearly dropped a double-double in 22 minutes with nine and nine, and was very much a presence in the first quarter when L.A. sent a message to Superman that the days of Zydrunas Ilgauskas and Kendrick Perkins are long gone.
Los Angeles made a mess of Orlando in the paint, outscoring it 56-22. If the Magic can’t find a way to stop dribble penetration, and do more to get the ball to Howard, there’s little reason to think they could cover 10 points let alone 6.5.
Magic bettors can fall back on their current 7-2 ATS run dating back to the series with the Boston Celtics, even though Game 1 just about tossed all existing trends out the window. Orlando’s 2-0 record both SU and against the number against L.A. during the regular season now seems obsolete, especially when the Lakers were able to hold the Magic to just under 30% shooting (23-for-77) in Game 1.
The total for Game 2 is listed at 203½, down two points from the opener. It’ll be interesting to see how both sharps and squares handle that number. The teams went 1-1 O/U in the two meetings during the regular season, and there’s good reason to think Orlando will score more points on Sunday night.
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