NBA finals have provided excitement

Say whatever negative things you want about the NBA, but at least this season's Finals delivered some excitement. It is clear that the two best teams with the two best coaches and the two best defenses deservedly battled for the title.

Granted, the first four games were duds, but NBA fans should never forget the Game 5 heroics of 34-year-old "Big Shot Rob" Horry, whose five three-point baskets and physical slam dunk single-handedly spurred San Antonio on to a one-point overtime victory. While most teams would have been demoralized by such a home loss, defending champion Detroit, as always, showed its pride by winning Game 6 on the road.

That set up the first Game 7 the NBA Finals have seen in the last 11 years. Several times Game 7s have ended up being special, and hopefully last night's finale matched the fans' desires and expectations.

• With the NBA all wrapped up for another year, many handicappers will now be focusing solely on Major League Baseball. The best thing about betting on MLB is that teams need only win by one to be a winner and not cover a point spread.

Statistics for each starting pitcher are readily available in sports books, such as his Earned Run Average and overall record, including importantly home or away, and in his last five games.

Team standings, as well as home and away, can be found right here in the Nevada Appeal, and handicappers can locate team records in day or night games, against right or left-handed starting pitchers, etc.

Also, baseball is and always will be a game of streaks. Current stretches are listed in the standings and should not be bet against.

Most underrated statistic: In the box score you can find LOB - Left On Base. Teams that have left the most men on base in recent games usually find a way to lose.

After finding his potential winners, it is time for the handicapper to look toward the board to make his picks. Common sense should tell him that his best value is in betting his teams that will return more than even money, or possibly small minuses.

If his pick is an underdog, it automatically gets plus money. When his pick is a big favorite, that's the time he should bet the -1 1/2 run line to get his best value. If he insists on betting the big minuses, he should parlay those together. It should also be noted that certain prices win more often than others.

In addition, in order to get a truer and fairer payoff, always bet off the board instead of the baseball parlay card. The only use for the parlay card is for the handicapper who cannot afford a $5 board bet.

Betting Overs and Unders is mainly about pitching. Find two equally good or bad starting pitchers lately meeting in the same game, and bet accordingly. Of course, a poor performance by a bullpen can ruin any starter's good outings.

In Carson odds are available for the World Series, both pennants and each division winner. Odds can likewise be found for the first five full innings in some games, and the player to hit the most home runs this year.

• The College World Series best-of-three championship begins tomorrow at Rosenblatt Stadium in Omaha, Neb. The competition so far could be described as close, exciting games being played in blistering heat.

Texas, making its fourth consecutive and record 32nd CWS appearance, will attempt to atone for its loss to Cal State-Fullerton in the championship last year. The Longhorns and 1,500-win coach Augie Garrido have been very business-like the entire NCAA tournament, and should be the favorite.

Not knowing who won last night's game makes a pick awkward here, but hopefully the prediction of Arizona State at 18-to-1 is still alive.

Prediction: The Arizona State/Florida winner upsets Texas.


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