The NBA Conference Finals are underway with Game 1 in the books in both the East and the West best-of-seven series. The following is a look at some pertinent facts and figures as well as some current betting trends that should help your NBA handicapping for the upcoming games.
Eastern Conference Finals - Boston Celtics vs. Miami Heat
Boston was finally able to eliminate the pesky Philadelphia 76ers in the conference semifinals with an 85-75 victory in Saturday night’s Game 7 as a six-point home favorite. However, the added fatigue due to the unexpected length of this series may have been a contributing factor in Monday night’s 93-79 loss to Miami as an eight-point road underdog in Game 1 of this series. The total stayed ‘under’ the 178.5-point line.
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The Celtics fell behind early but were able to battle their way to a 46-46 tie at the half. The Heat shifted into a higher gear in the third quarter, and Boston could never match the intensity. It eventually took its toll on the scoreboard in the 14-point loss. The recovery time will once again be short as these two are set to lace them up this Wednesday night in Game 2.
Despite the Celtics’ power shortage in the second half, you have to give a great deal of credit for this win to the overall talent and athleticism of the Heat, and in particular LeBron James. He ended the night with a game-high 32 points while going 13-for-22 from the field and he also led the way in rebounds with 13. Dwyane Wade finished with 22 points and seven assists while Shane Battier posted a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds. The absence of Chris Bosh, who is still out with an abdominal strain, is sure to have some impact on this series, but right now James has been able to almost single-handedly fill the void.
Western Conference Finals - Oklahoma City Thunder vs. San Antonio Spurs
It is more than obvious that the top two teams in the West are still on the floor in these playoffs, and given how closely they matchup with one another, it will most likely take the full seven games to find out which one is actually the best.
The Thunder were on the wrong end of a 101-98 decision in Sunday night’s Game 1, but they covered against the spread as 5.5-point road underdogs. The total stayed under the 204-point totals line. They actually carried a nine-point lead into the fourth quarter but had no answer for the Spurs in the final frame and were outscored, 39-27. Kevin Durant ended the night with 27 points and Russell Westbrook chipped in another 17, but Oklahoma City struggled to generate scoring opportunities down the stretch against a swarming San Antonio defense.
Game 1 of this series was highlighted by the play of Spurs’ guard Manu Ginobili, who led the team with 26 points after shooting 60.9 percent from the floor and going 3-for-5 from three point range. Tim Duncan and Tony Parker combined for 34 points and 19 rebounds as the youth-verses-experience subplot in this series clearly favored San Antonio in the opener.
Boston vs. Miami
The Celtics are 5-1 ATS in their last six games following a straight-up loss but just 1-6 ATS in their last seven games on just one day’s rest. The total has stayed under in five of their last seven road games.
The Heat are 7-1 ATS in their last eight home games and 4-1 ATS in their last five games following a SU win. The total has stayed under in 12 of their last 15 conference finals games.
Boston has been opened as an 8.5-point road underdog for Wednesday’s Game 2 with the total set at 178. The home team is now 12-4 ATS in the last 16 meetings and the total has gone ‘over’ in five of the last six games in Miami.
Oklahoma City vs. San Antonio
The Thunder are 4-0-1 ATS in their last five playoff games as underdogs and 4-1 ATS in their last five games following an ATS win. The total has stayed under in five of their last seven games as underdogs on the road.
The Spurs are 22-5-1 ATS in their last 28 games as favorites at home and 13-2-1 in their last 16 games following an ATS loss. The total has stayed under in seven of their last 10 games.
Oklahoma City is a 4.5-point road underdog for Tuesday night’s Game 2 with the total line set at 201.5. Despite covering in Game 1, it is 3-7 ATS in the last 10 meetings overall and 5-11-1 ATS in its last 17 games in San Antonio. The total has gone over in four of the last five meetings.
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