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Monta Ellis hits absurd buzzer-beater to lift Mavs over Bucks
2014-12-04

A player previously known as a volume shooter with few contributions in other areas has benefited greatly from being surrounded by other quality scorers and now looks like a dangerous, acceptably efficient guard for the best offense in the NBA. Ellis is a lot more valuable now that no one considers him a first option.

For the most part, though, Monta is the same player who frustrated many observers, particularly when it comes to taking and making bizarre shots made possible only by elite body control. One of his best and most successful examples of such a play came in the final seconds of Wednesday night's game between the Mavs and host Milwaukee Bucks.

With 8.9 seconds on the clock and the score tied at 105-105, Ellis took the inbounds pass and prepared to take the defending O.J. Mayo one-on-one. Mayo did very well and forced Ellis into two help defenders, which presumably would have caused the ballhandler to force a shot or pass to another player who would have very little time to beat the clock. Instead, Ellis spun to his left, took two steps in the same direction, and faded away for a 10.0-degree-of-difficulty shot over Mayo: The stunning finish was upheld after video review and the Mavs left town with a 107-105 win. It initially looked like Ellis might have traveled, but his movement was legal it was just a very odd interpretation of the rules. A running fadeaway out of a spin move just isn't a shot many players will consider, let alone choose to take. It's an incredible play regardless of its impact on the game.

It also marked the second night in a row in which Monta had helped Dallas to a win with some late-game ingenuity. Ellis forced a very foolish foul from Kirk Hinrich in the final seconds of regulation on Tuesday night vs. the Bulls and then hit three free throws to send the game to overtime, where the Mavericks eventually won.

On the other hand, Ellis wasn't especially efficient in either game outside of those two huge moments. With 21 points on 11-of-26 shooting vs. the Bucks, Monta has now scored 61 points on 61 field goal attempts in his last two games. I imagine Dallas will take it.




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NBA: Orlando’s opening number suggests readiness
2010-05-18

The Boston Celtics exposed the Orlando Magic in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Whether Orlando was not emotionally ready to play from the long layoff or listless after cruising past two dramatically weaker opponents, the facts are that for three quarters the Magic looked liked they belonged in the Eastern Finals as much as the New Jersey Nets. They’ll try to turn things around and even up the series in Game 2 tonight. Orlando is a hefty 7 point favorite at Sportsbook.com.


The crisp passing normally associated with Stan Van Gundy’s team amounted to a grand total of 10 assists in the series opener. The Magic players dumped the ball down to Dwight Howard and basically stood like statues in creating no movement on the perimeter, which forced Howard to rely on his limited offense game with nowhere to pass the ball.


While the Celtics deserve credit for keeping the Magic under 40 percent shooting for the first 36 minutes, their task was made much simpler with Rashard Lewis, Matt Barnes and Jameer Nelson for the most part taking off-balance shots and being sloppy ball-handlers.


“I don't think we were prepared for the level they were ready to play," said Vince Carter, one of the few players in white with pulse throughout the contest. "They were ready to go from the jump, and we weren't on their level from the beginning." Orlando is 41-22 ATS revenging a same season loss.


The Magic too readily let Boston set up its half court defense. When Nelson had the ball a good portion the game, he did too much yo-yo dribbling and the offense was stagnant.


The Magic are 23-11 ATS after a game where they failed to cover the spread this year.


"That was a wake-up call we really needed, in my opinion," said Carter. "They're relentless, they're aggressive, they do a great job of contesting, especially in the paint, and it took us a while to figure it out, but when we did we played a lot better."


Boston’s Ray Allen shot only 34 percent against the Magic in last year’s playoffs and they tried to employ the same defensive strategy on him again, pressuring him on the perimeter to take contested shots. Allen foiled those tactics, by beating Matt Barnes, Mickael Pietrus and later Redick off the dribble for layups or short jumps shots in totaling his game high 25 points.


The Celts are up to 38-23 ATS as road underdogs the past three years and Paul Pierce is starting to show he might still have something left in his legs with superior all-around game line that looked this way: 22 points, nine rebounds and five assists.


“It was a defensive game, and we like those. That was fine with us," said Boston coach Doc Rivers.


Orlando is 7 point favorites to even the series, with ‘total’ of 189 at Sportsbook.com. The Magic are 31-12 ATS after playing a game as a home favorite and 17-6 UNDER after one or more losses. Boston has won and covered four in a row and is 29-16 ATS in road games after successfully covering the spread in two or more consecutive contests. The Celtics are 11-2 UNDER after allowing 35 points or less in the first half of their last outing.





NBA: Boston at Portland (10:30 PM ET, ESPN)
2010-02-19

The night cap on ESPN finds the Boston Celtics playing 2,500 miles from home in Portland. That distance hasn’t proven a problem of late though, as the Celtics have won four of their L5 games there. Oddsmakers at Sportsbook.com see that turning tonight though, with the Blazers playing as the 2-point favorites.

Boston (34-18, 20-31-3 ATS) got away with another subpar offensive game, beating the Los Angeles Lakers 87-86 on Thursday night. Ray Allen scored 12 of his 24 points in the third quarter against a Lakers team that was without injured star Kobe Bryant.

The Celtics, who were held under 90 points for the third time in four games, are hoping their new guard, Nate Robinson, can provide a boost. Boston received Robinson and Marcus Landry in a trade with New York on Wednesday, giving up Eddie House, J.R. Giddens, Bill Walker and a future conditional second-round pick. Bean-Town backers wouldn’t mind if Robinson helped them cover a few more pointspreads, since they are 1-7 ATS off a cover.

With Marcus Camby now in town, Portland (32-24, 31-24-1 ATS) has one of the league’s top defenders. Camby is expected to make his Blazers debut Friday, giving them a much-needed post presence. Looking to fill the void left by Greg Oden and Joel Przybilla - who are both out for the season due to knee injuries - Portland acquired Camby from the Los Angeles Clippers on Tuesday in exchange for Steve Blake and Travis Outlaw. He joins a team that is 2-5 ATS at home against clubs with a winning road record.

Camby was the defensive player of the year for the 2006-07 season and is a two-time member of the NBA all-defensive team. He’s looking forward to playing again with Portland point guard Andre Miller, his teammate on three playoff teams with Denver from 2003-05. “I love to play with Andre Miller because he is so unselfish,” Camby said.

Miller, though, may be without his backcourt mate, Brandon Roy, who is probable for this game because of a hamstring injury. After missing 15 of the previous 16 games, Roy tried to play against the Clippers on Tuesday night, but he ended up sitting out the second half of the Blazers’ 109-87 victory.

Roy is averaging a team-high 22.6 points. His injury caused him to miss Portland’s 98-95 overtime loss to Boston on Jan. 22. Allen hit a 3-pointer with 42 seconds left in OT, giving the Celtics eight wins in their last nine matchups with the Blazers.

Oddsmakers have made Portland a two-point favorite with total of 186.5. Boston is .500 playing with no rest this season and 3-7 ATS (1-4 ATS last five). With the Celtics lack of offense, they are 7-1 UNDER in last eight contests, including five in a row. Portland has been surprisingly undistinguished at home with a 19-11 record (.500 ATS). The Blazers are however 20-8 ATS on Friday’s and 6-1 OVER.

Boston is 8-2 SU and ATS against Portland with 4-1 ATS (3-2 SU) mark at the Rose Garden. The StatFox Power Line shows a potential under-pricing, Portland by 6