Boston Celtics at Miami Heat -8 (Total: 178.5)
So here we are. Game Seven in one of the most unpredictable series in recent memory. Everything that has happened has been so counter-intuitive it’s tough to say definitively which version of each team will take the floor tonight. The only thing that is certain is that huge ramifications will come from today’s result.
Are we looking at the final game of the “Big Three” era in Boston? Due to age and contract factors, it is nearly impossible to envision this roster coming back in tact for the 2013 season. For this aging bunch of superstars and future hall-of-famers, tonight is literally “win or die”.
The pressure however lies squarely on the shoulders of the Miami Heat, and specifically on the broad shoulders of Lebron James. Lebron responded well to the Game Six elimination-game pressure by authoring one of the finest postseason performances in history, dropping 45 points on 73% shooting and grabbing 15 boards and dishing out 5 assists. It is not practical to expect him to replicate that performance tonight, but the expectation for the best player in the world to be the BEST player on the floor is still very real.
So who wins tonight? Nearly every expert would have expected the Heat to win coming home in Game Five. They didn’t. Not many people expected Boston to come out and get hammered in a closeout game at home in Game Six. But they did. So which team plays their best game tonight and advances to the NBA Finals?
Here’s a couple of stats to chew on. In 111 Game Seven’s in NBA history, the home team is a robust 88-22. That’s exactly 75%. History likes the Heat tonight pretty convincingly. However, it isn’t like the C’s haven’t been in this spot before. They are 4-2 in Game Sevens in the Big Three era. They’ve been in plenty of pressure situations with their back against the wall and survived to tell about it; including a NBA Finals, the ultimate pressure cooker (they did lose narrowly to Kobe and the Lakers in LA). Regardless, that is a slight advantage for Boston.
There are also a few statistical anomalies to consider; Lebron James shot an other-worldly 73% from the floor. Paul Pierce a repulsive 23%. Assuming both drift slightly back towards their norm, you are looking at a much closer game.
And to me, that’s what tonight is all about. I don’t see Boston getting run out of the building again, and it is hard to see Lebron playing AS well (I think he will still be fantastic), and hard to see Pierce shooting as poorly. I like the veteran savvy and poise of the Celtics keeping this a competitive basketball game. Though in the end, I think Miami wins at home, I can’t lay the huge eight points to back them.
Free Pick: Boston Celtics +8 <- Click for $100 FREE Bet