Boston Celtics at Philadelphia 76’ers -2 (Total: 174)
First off, my apologies to our readers for taking yesterday off. Though perhaps, in some way, it was actually an homage to the Miami Heat… who ALSO took yesterday off! Seriously, for those of you who watched the second half in its entirety, it was one of the worst postseason efforts I’ve seen in a long time, as the Pacers simply out-efforted the Heat for 24 minutes and 94 feet. Lebron and Wade were a combined 20% from the floor with eight points in the second half. It was Wade’s second straight terrible game, and it culminated with him having to be pulled away from his head coach during a third quarter timeout.
So far this series the only thing Dwyane Wade has hit is Darren Collison. If he doesn’t snap out of it soon, could the unthinkable really happen? Both the Heat and the Bulls, long coronated the only possible contenders in the East will both be ‘gone fishin’ before the Eastern Conference Finals? Hard to believe, but the Heat have dug themselves a hole that makes that scenario a reality and sets up an absolutely dire and potentially thrilling Game Four on Sunday.
Meanwhile, the “other” series in the East resumes tonight. The Celtics have a commanding 2-1 lead, due in large part to their complete obliteration of the 76’ers in Philadelphia two nights ago. What looked like a pick-em series after two games now feels like it is Boston’s to lose, and that they can all but end it with another win in Philly tonight. But will they get it? Let’s dig into the matchup a little deeper for today’s free pick.
Despite the complete domination by KG, Rondo and the Celtics in Game Two, Philadelphia is still a two point favorite in Vegas. I generally am wary when a line is as counter-intuitive as this one; usually the sharps know something. However, in this case, I’m sticking with my gut and the eye test, and backing Boston. They have physical advantages at four of the five positions, and their bench has been excellent so far this series.
And it’s impossible to talk about the Celtics run without acknowledging the stellar play of Garnett. I wrote in an earlier column that he is the most frightenly intense player I’ve ever seen play. In fact, if he isn’t on your team, he’s a pretty easy guy to dislike; but there is no denying to this point he has been the best player in the series. The Sixers have no answer. Iguodala is too small, Hawes is too slow, Brand is too damaged by years and injuries – no matter who they’ve sent his way (Greg Stiesma, anyone?) has been helpless to stop him.
Couple KG’s resurgence with Rondo’s matchup edge of the smaller J’Rue Holliday, and this series all but ends tonight. Give me the Celtics to both win and cover, and to head back to Boston and begin rooting for the Pacers…
Free Pick: Boston Celtics +2