Boston Celtics at Miami Heat -8 (Total: 179)
First off, my apologies to everyone who suffered along with me last night as the Oklahoma City delivered the worst beat in the last three months of sports. The Spurs, favored by five, held a ten point lead with less than thirty seconds to play. They even had their cover secure with three seconds to play, when James Harden rushed down the court and drilled a completely meaningless buzzer-beating three pointer. Completely meaningless to the players and the fans. Completely devastating to those of us who wagered the Spurs -5. The final score?
That’s the definition of a bad beat.
Hopefully we can avoid a similar fate tonight when the Eastern Conference Finals take their collective talents to South Beach. Boston survived a seven game series and some often hideous basketball, but eventually prevailed over the Philadelphia 76’ers. The Heat were pushed early and even trailed the Pacers 2-1 in their semifinal series, but eventually D-Wade woke up and Lebron played like a three-time MVP and the Heat dispatched of the Pacers in relatively easy fashion in Games Five and Six.
There will be a ton of star power in this series, but the edge might reside beyond some of the big names. For Boston, they will need continued great play out of Brandon Bass if they have any hope of cooling off the Miami Heat. Their advantage, if they have one in this series outside of Rajon Rondo, will be how Bass and their bench perform relative to Miami’s much maligned corps of reserves.
Dwyane Wade is fresh off a 40 point, 10 rebound domination of the Pacers and will be an exceptionally tough cover for Ray Allen. If they slide Rondo over and let Allen cover Chalmers, which leaves their star point guard vulnerable to foul trouble and fatigue. The ideal solution would have been to have Avery Bradley cover Wade, but therein lies the biggest problem facing the Celtics in this series. The injury to Bradley, though not nearly as glamorous as the injury to Chris Bosh, is equally devastating. Bradley had emerged as the C’s best perimeter defender and a knock-down shooter who could provide a little offensive boost.
I think Miami has woken up and shook away all the rust, shock of losing Bosh, and all the other issues that were plaguing them and is about to tear through the series. The eight point spread tonight is the second highest line for an opening game of the conference finals ever, but I think Miami comes out focused and sends a strong message tonight and covers the big eight point spread. Give me the Heat by a bunch.
Free Pick: Miami Heat -8