NBA Conference's Final Ready to Tip

Bert PhoenixContributor IMay 19, 2009

LOS ANGELES, CA - MAY 17:  Kobe Bryant #24 of the Los Angeles Lakers reacts in the third quarter against the Houston Rockets in Game Seven of the Western Conference Semifinals during the 2009 NBA Playoffs at Staples Center on May 17, 2009 in Los Angeles, California. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and or using this photograph, User is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Stephen Dunn/Getty Images)

Facing a do-or-die unlikely Game 7 at home as the 13-point favorites, the Lakers finally put away a resilient Houston club in money-making fashion with an 89-70 victory on Sunday. Pau Gasol was dominating on both ends of the court, making Los Angeles once again look like the conference’s top-seeded team, scoring 21 points and grabbed 18 rebounds. Kobe Bryant finished with a modest 14 points and led his team in assists with five.

With the win Kobe and company advance to the Western Conference final, looking to reach the NBA finals for the second straight year. However, standing in their way is a well rested Denver Nuggets team, who will look to spoil the Lakers plan for another finals appearance. Los Angeles won three of four from Denver this season and the Nuggets were out rebounded by an average of 50.0 to 43.3 per game.

The Nuggets haven't done a good job in many areas the last two seasons against the Lakers. During that span, the Lakers have won 10-of-11 meetings, including a 4-0 sweep in the first round of last season's playoffs. But Denver comes in well rested against Los Angeles with significant time to have worked on new looks and make adjustments, while the Lakers exerted a ton of energy in its tussle with Houston. If you bet on the NBA, possible fatigue could become a factor if this series goes deep.

The Nuggets, who are 8-2 in the playoffs after tying their franchise record with a 54-win regular season, haven't played since eliminating Dallas in a Game 5 on Wednesday May 13th. Winners of 16 straight games at the Pepsi Center where no opponent has won since March ninth, if the Nuggets can steal one of two in Los Angeles to start the series it is a possiblity that they could give the Lakers all they can handle.

The winner of the Wstern Conference Final's series will face either Orlando or top-seeded Cleveland, who begin its Eastern Conference final on Wednesday, starting at 8:30pm EST at the Quicken Loans Arena. A Superman versus a King matchup takes betting NBA on-line to a whole nether level.

After opening with eight straight double-digit victories in one of the most dominant performances in NBA playoff history, the Cavaliers are rested and four wins away from a second trip to the finals in three years. But the Magic have matched up well with them and are a confident bunch after outlasting the defending champion Boston Celtics in seven games.

Orlando won the season series 2-1, but the Cavaliers swept both of their postseason series and have been waiting for their next opponent since last Monday. Meanwhile, the Magic, led by Dwight Howard, ousted the Celtics 101-82 on Sunday night on the road in Game 7. The Celtics had been undefeated in their peerless history when leading a series three games to two. But not anymore!

LeBron James will have a tough time getting to the rim with the NBA’s defensive player of the year waiting to contest every shot. There’s a reason Orlando beat the Cavaliers two of three times in the regular season, because Howard awaits James’ drives to the basket. The Cavaliers and King James won't sweep this series since the Magic rank well above the Pistons and Hawks.

Strap up sports betting fans, because these conference finals meetings have all the makings to be the most competitive in years. Be sure to visit the BetPhoenix NBA odds for each game and series, including props and more!

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