Before this year's NBA playoffs began, most basketball experts predicted that the competition in the Western Conference was going to be brutal. Each of the top eight teams finished the regular season with at least 50 victories and only seven games separated No. 1 from No. 8.
But five games into the Lakers' postseason run, they have made a joke out of their Western Conference competition. After completing an easy four-game sweep over the Denver Nuggets in the first round (covering the point spread in each game), the Lakers rolled to an 11-point victory over Utah in Game 1 on Sunday.
As expected, their dominance has been noticed by Las Vegas oddsmakers, who have made them 6 1/2 -point favorites for tonight's Game 2.
Since a mini-slump late in the regular season, the Lakers are 9-2 against the spread over their last 11 games, including the playoffs. An impressive record for a team that has been favored for 18 of its last 19 games overall and often overcame inflated point spreads.
In recent years, the Lakers -- 7-0 against the point spread in their last seven games against Western Conference opponents this season -- have done well when they've been expected to win in the playoffs.
Over their last 12 postseason games when they've been favored by at least five points, the Lakers are 8-3-1 against the spread.
Lakers' over/under note: For Game 1 of the Lakers-Jazz series, the combined over/under point total was 212 1/2 and the under won in the Lakers' 109-98 victory. For tonight's Game 2, the over/under total is 209 1/2 .
In Utah's last 27 games versus a team from the Pacific Division, the under is 20-7, and in Utah's last four games as a road underdog, the under is 4-0.
Also, the under is 4-0 in the Lakers' last four games overall.
Here are several NFL proposition wagers, available at Bodoglife.com, regarding Chicago Bears running back Cedric Benson: Will Benson be suspended or fined by the NFL as a result of being charged with boating while intoxicated and resisting arrest? Yes (+300) or No (-400); will Benson be suspended or fined by the Bears as a result of being charged with boating while intoxicated and resisting arrest? Yes (-300) or No (+240).
Will Benson be cut by the Bears? Yes (+135) or No (-165); who will be the starting running back for the Bears at the start of the 2008 season? Benson (2-1), Garrett Wolfe (9-1), Adrian Peterson (1-3), Matt Forte (3-2) or other (8-1).