Miami Heat -1.5 at Boston Celtics (Total: 180)
The Oklahoma City Thunder, behind Kevin Durant’s dominant fourth quarter in which he scored sixteen consecutive points, have pulled their series even at two games apiece. Tonight, the Boston Celtics will look to accomplish the same objective in Game Four against the Miami Heat.
Rajon Rondo has been the best player in the series, which is really saying something considering he is sharing the court with a gaggle of future hall-of-famers in Lebron James, Dwyane Wade, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen. But to this point, it has been Rondo’s penetration, defensive intensity, of the main offensive creativity, and yes, SHOOTING that has made this a true series and main reason why this thing could get real interesting after tonight.
The Celtics will have to continue to do the smothering defensive job they did on Wade in Game Three, and would be wise to do a bit more to corral Lebron. They fared well in Game Three overall, but James has still been a dominant force of nature. For the series he is averaging 30.3 points and over 10 rebounds a game. The Celtics are also going to need a better offensive performance from Paul Pierce. Pierce, generally their most consistent offensive option and the one player capable of creating his own shot over the “Big Three” era, has struggled throughout the series. He is averaging over 18 points, but shooting a dismal 34.5% to get those points, making for a very inefficient floor game.
The key for Miami is going to be getting more contributions from their role players. In the games they have won, Battier, Chalmers, Haslem and the supporting cast have been effective and efficient. However, in Game Three they stalled out a bit, and so did the offensive output.
There is a general axiom that role players tend to shoot well at home and struggle on the road in the playoffs. So far this postseason the Heat have proven it true. If the Celtics can contain Wade to under 20 or 25 points and hold down the role players, it isn’t as big of a deal if Lebron puts up a monster 35-10-10 stat line. There just too much talent and heart for Boston if the role players from Miami don’t contribute.
I still think the Heat win this series, but this is going to be a tough test today. I am going to stick with conventional playoff logic and take the desperate veteran team in their home gym. This game is basically a pick ‘em, so I’d recommend taking Boston straight-up and not wasting the juice on a point and a half.
Free Pick: Boston Celtics +1.5 (or straight up to WIN)