04/16/2004 12:00AM

As usual, T-Wolves not safe bet

Email

LAS VEGAS - In Saturday's paper, I looked at the four NBA playoff series that began Saturday, so let's break down the four series that start Sunday.

With more big-market teams playing Saturday (including the Lakers and Knicks), the television ratings might be higher, but the more compelling games should be played Sunday, especially the No. 4 vs. 5 matchups that feature the Kings-Mavericks and the Heat-Hornets.

Sunday's first-round matchups

Nuggets at Timberwolves: Minnesota is the top seed in the West, but I wouldn't consider the T-Wolves a good bet. Kevin Garnett is the man and is worthy of MVP honors, but he has never won a playoff series, and Minnesota has never been in this position of being expected to win. It'll be interesting to see how they handle that pressure. On the flip side, the Nuggets have nothing to lose and will be playing loose. They might not win more than one game, but the Nuggets should be money-makers vs. the spread.

Mavericks at Kings: The Kings will be the better bet, since these games should be competitively priced, and I expect the Kings to come out on top. The oddsmakers might be overadjusting on the totals (Sunday's over/under is 219 1/2 - that's a whopping 30 points higher than any other total this weekend), so I'd look to the under and hope someone plays defense.

Bucks at Pistons: The Pistons should cruise through this series, but I won't be laying the points. Instead, I'll look to bet the over, since the Bucks' only chance will be to run.

Hornets at Heat: The Heat snuck up and grabbed the fourth seed in the East, but I'm still not sure the home court will overcome the inexperience of their young stars. I'll be looking to take the points with the Hornets.

Bankroll plays

In Sunday's action, I'll go with four 1-unit plays: Kings -5 vs. Mavericks, Kings-Mavs under 219 1/2, Hornets +6 1/2 vs. Heat, Nuggets +9 1/2 vs. Timberwolves.