Miami Heat -2 at Boston Celtics (Total: 179)
One half of the NBA Finals is already set, the other hangs in the balance tonight.
I have been hesitating on this pick for a few hours – however please don’t interpret that to mean this is a coin-flip or a haphazard selection. I take my wagering record seriously. I finished the NCAA Tournament at well over 65% and am trending towards a plus-58% (generally the professional handicapper benchmark) for the NBA Playoffs.
However, like most of you, I am also an NBA fan. I like the Playoffs. I wish we had a few more games of the Western Conference Finals. It was as high level of basketball as I’ve seen played in several years in the NBA. It was simply fantastic. I’d loveto see the Eastern Conference Finals extended as well; though few would argue it has been aesthetically pleasing. Rather, I’d like to see this series extend for more than just the obvious “Game Sevens are awesome” reason; no there is a completely different reason I had trouble writing the “Celtics go to the Finals” column earier…
It’s because it is still hard to believe that Miami is really dead.
But I truly think they might be. Look, this series is 3-2 Boston right now. It SHOULD be 4-1 Boston, see you in the Finals. Game Two was a farce of officiating with the D-Wade midair karate chop of KG and the near decapitation of Rajon Rondo, both going uncalled late. The Celtics have outplayed Miami in the last four games. The only game Miami was better was in Game One, at home and less than 48 hours after the C’s wrapped up a seven game series against rival Philadelphia.
Chris Bosh is back, but how effective will he be tonight? His statline looked good in Game Five, but there is a reason Coach Spo had him on the bench in crunch time, and it isn’t the one he gave during the presser. It was because Bosh couldn’t even come CLOSE to guarding KG. The Heat were -12 with Bosh on the floor in limited minutes; and he played mostly when KG was on the BENCH. He was getting lost in defensive switches and just didn’t have the strength and mobility to play effectively.
The biggest problem for the Heat is that Boston is sharing the basketball and getting good looks while Miami settles for contested isolation attempts; seemingly alternated between Wade and James. Lebron was 1 of 4 down the stretch Tuesday, and two of the shots were fading away and contested off of one-foot. Unless he puts his head down and gets to the rim, Miami struggles to score.
They are also going to struggle with an insanely focused, poised and intense Boston defense tonight. They are already one of the best defensive teams in the NBA, and in a game of this magnitude, throw out the “tired legs” train of thought. It won’t be an issue tonight.
It pains me to type it, as I have picked Miami to win it ALL since day one of the season, but just watching these games and analyzing the shot patterns and flow, Boston is better. They just are a better TEAM right now. And tonight should seal the deal.
Give me the C’s battling back Miami and Father Time one last time…
Free Pick: Boston Celtics +2