NBA Playoffs Odds and Picks: Heat at Celtics Game 3 Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 5/31/2012
If you are the Boston Celtics, you just likely saw your season go down the drain in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Wednesday night. Miami won the very entertaining game 115-111 in overtime – I had predicted a Celtics cover but also the ‘under’ – to take a 2-0 lead in this series.
How different could things have been? Boston could very easily be headed back home tied 1-1 and with three of the remaining five games in Beantown. Now the C’s would have to win four of the next five, including two in Miami where the Heat tied for the NBA’s best record during the regular season. Teams down 2-0 in a playoff series have only rallied 14 times in NBA history.
This series still could go six, maybe even seven games, if the veteran Celtics have anything left in the tank on Friday night in Game 3. But if the Heat win, this series is almost assuredly over on Sunday and so is the era of Boston’s Big 3 of Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen.
Heat at Celtics Betting Story Lines
So let’s see, the Celtics can’t beat the Heat while holding them to 93 points and they can’t beat the Heat even when Boston puts up 111 – the only time Miami has given up triple-digits in these playoffs. The Heat, meanwhile, are 7-0 when scoring at least 100 in these playoffs.
I’m really not sure that Boston can play any better than Game 2. It led by 15 at one point late in the second quarter and by five with three minutes left in the fourth quarter. The Celtics had been 33-1 when they held a 14-point or better lead. Boston had 99 points in regulation, the most Miami has given up all postseason.
Rajon Rondo played the best game of his career with 44 points (all 12 of Boston’s in OT), 10 assists and eight rebounds while playing all 53 minutes. In fact, he was the first player in NBA history to have 44+ points, 10+ assists and 8+ rebounds in a playoff game. Garnett was typically good with 18 points and eight rebounds. Pierce and Allen both bounced back from lousy Game 1s as Pierce had 21 points and six rebounds – but fouled out late in the fourth, which was a killer in overtime – and Allen had 13 points and the game-tying three-pointer late in regulation. Even Brandon Bass had eight points and 10 boards.
But the Celtic bench is even worse than Miami’s at this point. Boston’s reserves accounted for just seven points and five rebounds compared to Miami’s bench, which scored 25 and chipped in 17 rebounds. Without Pierce out in overtime, the Celtics were dead in having to go to their bench, which was an extra killer because Mickael Pietrus (the top reserve left) also fouled out.
The Celtics shot 49.4 percent from the field compared to Miami’s 44.6 and the C’s were a terrific 26-for-29 from the line although they were outscored there by five points since Miami had a ridiculous 47 attempts. You know LeBron James and Dwyane Wade are going to get theirs, and they combined for 57 points, but the Celtics defenders hounded LeBron into a 7-for-20 night and he missed the potential game-winner jumper at the regulation buzzer. James shot a crazy 24 free throws – don’t tell me stars don’t get the calls. Mario Chalmers was huge with 22 points, while Udonis Haslem was key off the bench for Miami with 13 points and 11 rebounds.
By the way, after the game Boston president Danny Ainge had it out with NBA VP of refereeing operations Joe Borgia in the hallway outside the officials' locker room. Boston was whistled for almost twice as many fouls as Miami (33-18) and three Celtics were disqualified overall. Only one Heat player had even four fouls.
Oh, and Miami’s Chris Bosh won’t be returning in Game 3, either, although he will travel.
Heat at Celtics Betting Odds and Key Trends
Boston opened as a 1.5-point favorite with the total at 180.5 on NBA odds. That total is two points higher than the first two games. The Heat are 3-2 ATS on the road in these playoffs and 2-3 on ‘over/under’. Boston is 3-4 ATS at home in playoffs and 4-3 O/U.
The Heat have covered 17 of their past 20 after scoring at least 100 points in their previous game. Miami hasn’t covered in its past six games as an underdog. Boston has covered 12 of its past 15 games after a loss but is 0-4 in its past four after an ATS win. The under is 5-0 in Miami’s past five when its opponent scored at least 100 points in the previous game. The under is 9-2 in Boston’s past 11 when its opponent scored at least 100 points in the previous game. The Heat have covered just once in the past nine trips to Beantown.
NBA Picks: Heat at Celtics Betting Predictions
It’s the first time in these playoffs that Miami has been a dog. Frankly, it’s the first time the Heat have been a dog in a game that mattered since April 12 at Chicago. Miami was a dog in the regular-season’s final two games but the Heat didn’t bother trying to win those – and they didn’t -- with the No. 2 seed locked in. Boston, meanwhile is on its first two-game skid of the playoffs and first since losing back-to-back games in early April against the top two regular-season teams in the NBA, the Bulls and Spurs.
The Celtics were 2-0 at home vs. the Heat this year but that most recent win, April 24, was when both teams played pretty much all scrubs. The Heat have won five games in a row since falling down 2-1 to the Pacers, and the Celtics now just have to be mentally as well as physically exhausted. They blew their chance to make this a series. Take the Heat and the under in Game 3.
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