Boston Celtics at Miami Heat -7.5 (Total: 177)
Last night Tony Parker made a pretty loud case for being the best point guard in the NBA. Chris Paul was splendid in the first round of the playoffs, but was thoroughly outplayed by Parker in Round Two when they met head up. Rajon Rondo has been at times splendid and at times invisible; plus he is far too poor a shooter to merit consideration as the definitive #1. And last night Parker ran poor Russell Westbrook ragged, through screen after screen, hitting floater and runner and jumpshot, one after another to the tune of a back-breaking 34 points.
Parker and the Spurs held a comfortable lead throughout the entire game, and unlike Game One there was no barrage of garbage-time three pointers to cover the spread. The Spurs covered easily, pushing our Conference Finals Record to 2-1 and overall playoff record against the spread to a nice tidy 58%.
So can the Heat continue what both they and the Spurs have displayed thus far; home court dominance? Or can the “aging” Boston Celtics find some young legs in Game Two and even the series before heading home?? Let’s dig into tonight’s matchup to get some good answers.
The key for Boston will be finding some way to slow Lebron and Dwayne Wade from dominating the game with their penetration to the rim. However, with Ray Allen obviously slowed and not quite right (heck, he’s barely shooting 60% from the foul line!) and Avery Bradley, their best perimeter defender sidelined for the season with injury, it is hard to see anyway the Celtics are going to be able to do this.
Some have speculated that the Celtics are not in terrible shape, and that their Game One performance was due in large part to some fatigue after a seven game slugfest with Philadelphia. I’d like to offer a different theory: the Heat are significantly BETTER than Boston, and this series is not going to be competitive. The Heat are younger, faster, bigger and stronger. They won easily in Game One and didn’t even shoot particularly well from the field. Kevin Garnett also had a ridiculous circa 2007 KG game – one that I don’t think he repeats tonight.
Pierce looks slow. Ray Allen looks slow. Their bench is pedestrian and anytime the Heat decides they are done toying with Rajon Rondo, they can simply slide Lebron over to end his productivity (see Derrick Rose, 2011 Conference Finals).
I think the Heat wins again tonight and they do it again by double digits. This team has found their rhythm and is cruising towards an exciting date with the Spurs.
Free Pick: Miami Heat -7.5