Free NBA Picks: Celtics at Sixers Game 4 Odds and Betting Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 5/17/2012
So far during the NBA’s conference semifinals I have previewed at least one game in every series except for Boston-Philadelphia in the East. That’s because I believe those are the two toughest teams to get a read on and determine whether Jekyll or Hyde shows up on both sides.
The Celtics pretty well stunk in the first two games of the series at home – you know before the playoffs began that Boston wasn’t expecting home-court advantage after the first round, but Derrick Rose’s injury changed that -- but managed to steal Game 1 from Philly. The Sixers tried to gag away a nice lead again in Game 2 but hung on.
Finally, good Boston showed up in Game 3 as the Celtics re-took home-court advantage with a decisive 107-91 win in Philly on Wednesday. That essentially makes Friday’s Game 4 a must-win for the Sixers as only eight teams have rallied from a 3-1 deficit in NBA playoff history. Two – Memphis and Denver – almost did in the first round but failed.
Celtics at Sixers Betting Story Lines
The only team still playing that’s more banged up than Boston is the L.A. Clippers. Paul Pierce especially is hurting for the C’s with a sprained MCL in his left knee but he’s not about to sit. That knee has hampered Pierce’s explosion, and Philly’s Andre Iguodala has done a tremendous defensive job on him. In the first two games, Pierce totaled just 21 points on 5-for-20 shooting with 11 combined rebounds. In Game 3, he had best effort since sustaining the injury earlier this month, putting up 24 points, 12 rebounds, four assists and three steals. Pierce didn't have a particularly strong shooting night (6-of-17 overall), but still got to the line 14 times and made 11.
It appeared that whether Iguodala was on him or not that Pierce attacked the rim. In Game 3, Pierce was 1-for-5 from the field when Iggy covered him and is now just 5-for-20 from the series when covered by Iguodala. When guarded by others, or when he got by Iggy, Pierce had 16 of his 24 points in Game 3 and shot 5-for-12 from the field. He had 15 of his points in the second half as Boston built a 27-point lead.
The Celtics also got out in transition much more in Game 3. In Games 1 and 2, Boston had 33 points in transition combined on 13-for-27 shooting. On Wednesday, Boston had 28 points on 10-for-11 shooting. Because the C’s are such a veteran bunch and the Sixers much younger and athletic, Boston needs to get as many easy points as it can.
Kevin Garnett (27 points, 13 rebounds) and Rajon Rondo (23 points, 14 assists) also were terrific Wednesday as Boston’s starters outscored Philly’s a whopping 84-36. Garnett looks like he’s 25 again as it was the third time in the past four games he has scored at least 27, each more than he had scored in any regular-season game. And his 13 rebounds were his second-best total of the season. Boston shot 51.9 percent against a Sixers defense that had held the Celtics and Bulls to 38.4 percent from the floor in the previous six games (Philly is 0-for-10 this year when teams shoot better than 50 percent against it). The 107 points matched the Celtics’ third-highest total in regulation this season.
Really the only bright spot for the Sixers was Thaddeus Young’s 22 points in 26 minutes off the bench. But if any coach can make the right adjustments, it’s the 76ers’ Doug Collins. And don’t rule out betting Philly to win the series. Six times the Sixers have lost a playoff game by at least 16 points and rallied to take the series, although not since 2001. Of course, they also have lost 21 series when losing a game by at least 16.
Celtics at Sixers Betting Odds and Key Trends
Philadelphia opened as a two-point favorite with the total at 173.5 on NBA odds. Boston was 16-16-1 ATS on road this season and 15-16-2 on the ‘over/under’. In playoffs: 3-1 and 1-3, respectively. The Sixers were 17-16 ATS at home during season and 11-12 O/U. In playoffs: 2-2 and 1-3, respectively.
Boston is 4-1 ATS in its past five games as an underdog. The Celtics have covered 10 of their past 13 games following a win of at least 10 points. The Sixers have covered just three of their past 10 games following a loss of at least 10 points. Philly is 2-7 in its past nine games as a home favorite. The under is 8-2 in Boston’s past 10 games as an underdog of less than five points. The over is 7-2 in Philly’s past nine games following a loss. Boston is 1-4 ATS in the past five at Philadelphia.
Free NBA Picks: Celtics at Sixers Betting Predictions
Garnett, who is shooting 63 percent in this series, is clearly the key as Celtics coach Doc Rivers wants to run the offense through him in the post when the Celtics can’t get out and run. In KG’s 103 minutes on the floor through three games, the Celtics have outscored the Sixers by 47 points. In his 41 minutes on the bench, Boston is a minus-31. The Celtics have outrebounded the Sixers by 15 with Garnett on the court, but they're minus-15 on the boards with Garnett on the bench.
Look for Collins to do something drastic to slow Garnett, who had his worst game in Game 2 (and it was still pretty good) when the Sixers pretty much double-teamed him at all times.
The 76ers dominated Boston in the two regular-season games in Philly, and I think the moment of everything simply got to the inexperienced team in Game 3. Plus, the playoff-savvy Celtics played like they knew they couldn’t fall down 2-1 in the series. But now that Boston already has home court back, the shoe is on the other foot as Philly simply can’t fall behind 3-1. Thus the Sixers win this game – their last of the series – and cover. Take the under.
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