NBA Playoffs Picks: Sixers at Celtics Game 7 Odds and Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 5/25/2012
Was it really any surprise that the Boston Celtics didn’t put their throats on the necks of the Philadelphia 76ers during Game 6 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series in Philly on Wednesday night? After all, Boston had been 2-10 since the arrival of Kevin Garnett and Ray Allen in road potential close-out games in the postseason. It’s almost like this team doesn’t have a killer instinct until it’s 100 percent necessary.
Well, that record is now 2-11 after the Sixers won arguably the ugliest game of the 2012 playoffs, 82-75, on Wednesday. And I think that loss cost Boston any chance at reaching the NBA Finals. Why? If the Celtics had played with some urgency and beaten Philly, Boston would have had Thursday and Friday off before having to play Miami – which, as expected, wrapped up its series with Indiana on Thursday – in the East Finals on Saturday. Now the veteran, beaten-up C’s will have to turn around and take the court 48 hours after Game 7 on Monday (presuming they win), while the Heat will have had Friday, Saturday and Sunday off to rest and prepare. Now opening the series Monday gives the Heat a slightly better chance of getting the injured Chris Bosh back for Game 1, although I wouldn’t bet on that.
Saturday night’s Game 7 is the sixth all-time between the rival Sixers and Celtics, with Boston holding a 3-2 lead.
Sixers at Celtics Betting Story Lines
Boston shot 52.2 percent from the field in scoring 101 points in its Game 5 win, but on Wednesday the Celtics shot a miserable 33.3 percent, including 3-for-14 from three-point range, in scoring 26 fewer points. And if one player gets the blame, it’s Rajon Rondo. He had just nine points on 4-for-14 shooting and only six assists. Rondo had at least 13 assists in the previous five games and hadn’t had six or fewer since March 9. Overall the C’s had just 14 assists in Game 6 and Rondo’s 10 missed shots and four turnovers led to 16 points for the Sixers.
How did Philly do it? The Sixers used 6-foot-7 Evan Turner on Rondo, and Andre Iguodala and Jrue Holiday helped Turner force Rondo and the Celtics into starting their pick-and-roll further out in their half-court sets.
And the Philly big men did a terrific job of clogging the lane. For example, Kevin Garnett scored 20 points and made nine field goals. But none of them was from inside the lane or were any of his 20 attempts. Before Wednesday, Garnett had 126 games with the Celtics with 15 or more field goal attempts. In all of those games, Garnett had at least one shot inside of 10 feet. The Celtics had just 16 points in the paint compared to 42 for Philly. To do that, Philly’s Spencer Hawes, Elton Brand and Lavoy Allen pushed Garnett off the low blocks as much as possible. And when he did get it down low, Garnett was doubled and forced to pass out to Boston’s non-shooters, like Rondo, Brandon Bass or Mickael Pietrus.
Philadelphia will no doubt continue this strategy because Ray Allen is battling through a very sore ankle. He was just 4-for-11 from the floor (including 1-for-5 from three-point distance) with nine points on Wednesday. Allen has started the past two games in place of Avery Bradley, and Bradley is done for the playoffs with a shoulder injury. Bradley isn’t the shooter Allen is but is much more energetic and a terrific defender. Allen is too gimpy to create his own shot and can’t come around pick-and-rolls quickly as used to be his trademark. Plus, without Allen on the bench, the reserves group is incredibly weak offensively.
Could Game 7 be the final time we see Garnett, Allen, Paul Pierce and Rondo together? I have no doubt that Celtics boss Danny Ainge will let KG and Allen walk as free agents and there’s talk he will try to trade Pierce.
Sixers at Celtics Betting Odds and Key Trends
Boston opened as a 5.5-point favorite with the total at 170 on NBA odds. Celtics are 2-4 ATS at home in playoffs and 4-2 on ‘over/under’. Sixers are 3-3 ATS on road in postseason and 4-2 O/U.
Boston has covered eight of its past 11 games following a loss. The over is 5-1 in Philly’s past six games as a dog of at least five points. The over is 4-1 in Boston’s past five games as a favorite of at least five points. The home team has covered in 11 of the past eight meetings in this series.
NBA Picks: Sixers at Celtics Betting Predictions
The Celtics are 4-0 after a loss in these playoffs, while the 76ers haven’t won consecutive games since taking Games 2-4 against Chicago immediately after the Bulls lost Derrick Rose and eventually Joakim Noah too.
Frankly, Boston has outplayed the Sixers about 75 percent of the time in this series, and it’s not like Philly was tearing it up on Wednesday, either. Plus I imagine it will be a spirited Boston effort with this possibly being the home curtain call for Garnett, Allen and maybe Pierce in the green and white. In addition, Rondo usually bounces back with a monster game after a bad one. And lastly, the C’s have plenty of Game 7 experience while most of the Sixers don’t. Boston easily covers, and take the over.
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