Boston Celtics at Philadelphia 76’ers -1 (Total: 175)
This week: another exciting chapter from the soon-to-be Kevin Garnett bestseller, how NOT to win friends and influence people. The ever-cuddly Garnett send a salvo across the face of Philly fan with his remark that they were “fair weather fans” and basically, lousy.
You have to love KG’s ability to create animosity and tension in the midst of a relatively pleasant (and frankly less-than-compelling) series. Expect Philly’s crowd to be at fever pitch, screaming desperately to keep the series alive; at least as long as the 76’ers play well enough to let them believe…
The big question; will they?
There are a few major trends in Philadelphia’s favor. So far this postseason they are 4-0 in games following a loss (of which tonight would qualify). They are also at home, which never hurt. But the big stat, the one that I personally found stunning, is that the Celtics are just 2-10 in closeout games during the Big Three Era. Think about that… just 17% of the time they have their foot on a team’s throat do they actually push down. Not exactly the mental picture MOST people have about the Paul Pierce/Kevin Garnett C’s… but numbers don’t lie, and in this case, the numbers indicate the Celtics don’t have that perfect killer instinct many attribute to them and the ever-scowling Kevin Garnett.
Boston this series has gone nearly exactly as Rondo has gone. In their three wins, he has been dominant; recording two triple doubles and playing splendidly dominating in all three games. However, in the games they lost, he has not provided nearly as big an offensive spark. Expect Philly to keep mixing things up on Rondo, sending different looks his way, as well as focusing on eliminating transition opportunities for him to create.
Maybe it is misplaced, but I have faith in Doug Collins’ ability to adjust and the savvy feel he seems to have for his relatively young ballclub. More so than in his younger years with the Bulls and Pistons, he seems at ease in big moments and acutely aware of how to lessen the pressure his young players might be feeling. He has refused to call Game Six an “elimination game,” as the phrase is inherently negative. They are entering tonight planning and expecting NOT to be eliminated, but rather to win the game and get ready for a thrilling Game Seven in Boston.
I think I am inclined to agree with him. Give me the Sixers tonight in a near pick-em contest.
Free Pick: Philadelphia 76’ers -1