free NBA Picks: Boston Celtics at Orlando Magic Game 5 Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 5/26/2010
Well, I, like most cappers, has been dead wrong more often than not on the side in this one. What a weird series! Did Game 4 show that Boston was starting to wear down (remember that the C’s didn’t have really any time off after the Cavs series) or was it just a one-game desperation win by Orlando? We should find out tonight, because then things start getting real strange if the Magic send this back to Boston. The C’s have never gone to six games when they led a series 3-0.
Celtics at Magic, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)
The line: Magic –3 1/2 (186)
Props: Paul Pierce total points (20.5); Jameer Nelson total points + assists (21.5); Dwight Howard total points (20.5)
How they enter: For once the Magic were not dominated in the first quarter in Game 4. Boston had taken double-digit leads in each of the previous three games, but the Magic led by five. It was Boston’s first non-cover since getting trashed by the Cavs in Game 3 of that series. Orlando has “won” the fourth quarter in all four of these games.
Scouting report: Yes, Dwight Howard came up huge in Game 4 with 32 points and 16 rebounds. But I would argue the key player was Jameer Nelson, who had 23 points and nine rebounds and outplayed Rajon Rondo, who had his worst game of the playoffs. The Magic used the pick and roll to free up both Howard and Nelson in Game 4 – they ran pick-and-roll plays 43 times compared to 33 total times in Games 1-3. The Magic scored 47 points and shot 51.6 percent off the pick and roll in Game 5. Rondo has been bothered by muscle spasms in his right leg and finished with eight assists and nine points on 10 shots. Obviously those spasms might give the Magic a chance at an epic comeback, but Rondo insists he is fine.
And the Magic bench was at least equal to Boston’s in Game 4. Rasheed Wallace was a no-show and Glen Davis did little for Boston. J.J. Redick had 12 points for Orlando and the Magic were plus-14 when he was on the court. Celts coach Doc Rivers called Redick, who is averaging 11.5 points and shooting 53.8 percent from the three-point line, “their most consistent player in this series.” When Redick is on the court in this series, the Magic have outscored opponents by 20 points. When Vince Carter (three points in Game 4) is on the floor, the Magic have been outscored by 22. Carter is being torched by Paul Pierce (24.3 ppg) and Carter’s jumper is gone. And I have to mention whipping boy Rashard Lewis, who finally showed up and scored 13 in Game 4.
The picks: The Pierce prop seems like easy money, as Carter is a terrible defender and Redick might be worse. Why is Pierce so much better in this series than he was vs. the Cavs? Here’s his answer, which seems a slap at Carter: "I don't have to guard LeBron James." As for Nelson, if he goes ‘over’ that total that probably means the Magic win. I would take the ‘over’. I don’t see Howard scoring more than 20 as he hasn’t done that since Games 2-3 in the Hawks series. Go ‘under’. I hate the side at 3 1/2 because I think the Magic might actually win tonight but I’m not convinced it’s by more than 3 1/2. So take Boston and the points. The ‘under’ is 10-2 in the past 12, so that’s an easy call.
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