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Bet on the NBAMost of the first games of the first round of the playoffs in the NBA Eastern Conference turned out as we all expected.

The only real upset was the Orlando Magic's loss to the Atlanta Hawks by 10 points. But while the other three first round games went to the favorites, there are still a lot of questions about each team in the East, based on their performances over the weekend.

The Magic's loss was the big one, so let's talk about that first. The Hawks were in control for most of the game after both teams came out to a slow start in the first quarter. But starting in the second, the Hawks starting putting distance between the teams, making it a 14 point game by the fourth quarter. By then, the Magic could not rally to overcome the deficit, and dropped the game 103-93.

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The top seeded Chicago Bulls also came out flat in the first game, and were down by 4 at the half and by 8 going into the fourth quarter. It was only a 16-1 run in the final minutes of the fourth quarter that turned the game around and game the Bulls the 104-99 win over the Indiana Pacers. But Chicago will have to begin playing better in the first three quarters, or the Pacers will close the deal down the stretch.

The Boston Celtics had defense problems in the first half of their game against the New York Knicks, and were down by 12 going into halftime. But then their defense turned around, kept the Knicks to 13 in the third quarter, and Ray Allen put in a three-pointer in the final seconds to give the Celtics the 87-85 victory. The Knicks experienced a big loss with Chauncey Billups leaving the game with a strained knee, and he is questionable for Game 2 in Boston.

Finally, the Miami Heat escaped the Philadelphia 76ers with a score of 97-89. The two teams traded good and bad quarters, but Miami was able to outscore the Sixers by 23 points in the second and third quarters. The 12 point lead that Philadelphia built in the first quarter quickly evaporated, and the team could not put the game back together against the Heat offense.

Strangely enough, most of the top teams in the East came out a bit flat this weekend and most were in serious danger of losing their first games. The Magic were the only team to go all the way and drop the game, but the others were exhibiting some questionable playing in the first quarters and first halves. With the eventual wins, though, it is still unlikely any of the underdog teams will take down the top three teams in the East.


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