The Miami Heat and the Boston Celtics meet in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference Final on Friday at the TD Garden, with tip-off at 8:30 pm ET on ESPN.
NBA Picks have the Celtics as a 2-point favorite and the over/under total at 180.5.
The Heat beat the Celtics 115-111 on Wednesday to take a 2-0 lead in the best-of-seven NBA Playoffs series. Boston covered the spread as an 8-point road underdog and the score was over the total of 178.
Rajon Rondo had a career best 44 points to go along with 10 assists and eight rebounds to lead the Celtics. Even more amazing about Rondo’s career evening is that he Rondo scored all 12 of Boston’s points in overtime, and was on the court for every second of the game, including OT. Rondo finished 16-of-24 from the floor.
Paul Pierce scored 21 points to lead the Celtics, while Kevin Garnett added 18 and Ray Allen netted 13 for Boston.
LeBron James scored 34 points and grabbed 10 rebounds to lead the Heat, while Dwyane Wade scored eight of his 23 points in the overtime period. Mario Chalmers scored 22 for the Heat.
At one point, Miami was down 15 points and by coming all the way back pulled off the biggest comeback in franchise postseason history.
The Heat have now won five games in a row, going back to the Indiana Pacers series.
Game 4 of the East Finals will be on Sunday in Boston, at 8:30 pm ET on ESPN.
The Boston Celtics and the Miami Heat clash in Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Wednesday at the AmericanAirlines Arena, with tip-off at 8:30 pm ET on ESPN.
NBA Picks have Miami as a 7.5-point favorite and the over/under total at 177.
The Heat lead the best-of-seven series 1-0 after a 93-79 win in Game 1 on Monday, covering the spread as an 8-point home favorite.
Once again, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade led the way for the Heat, especially in the 2nd half.
James scored 32 points and pulled down 13 rebounds, while Wade scored 22 points, including 10 in the 4th quarter. Shane Battier, who was playing in the conference finals for the first time, also had a huge game for Miami off the bench, scoring 10 points and grabbing 10 rebounds.
Kevin Garnett had 23 points and 10 rebounds for Boston, while Rajon Rondo scored 16 points, pulled down nine rebounds and dished out seven assists. Paul Pierce had 12 points.
NBA Handicapping trends show that Boston has the worst rebounds in the league at 38.8 per game, has the No. 2 defense, allowing 89.3 points per game, has the best field goal percentage against in the league allowing 41.9 per cent, and is No. 2 in three points made allowed in the league with 5.2 per game.
Miami gives up the lowest free throw percentage in the NBA, allowing 72.5 per cent per game, allows the second most three points made with 7.3 per game, and leads the league in rebounds allowed at 39.8.
The top two teams in the Eastern Conference meet for the second time this season when the Miami Heat and the Chicago Bulls square off Wednesday at the United Center.
This game can be seen live nationally on ESPN, and in the Chicago area on Comcast Sports Chicago, with tip-off at 9:30 pm ET.
Chicago is a 2.5-point favorite and the over/under total is at 192 in NBA Picks.
The matchup features one of the most explosive offenses in the NBA against one of the league’s strongest defenses. The Heat have the No. 2 offense with 102.6 points per game, while Chicago has the No. 2 defense, allowing just 88.9 points per game.
The Bulls will be out to avenge a 97-93 loss in the first meeting this season on Jan. 29, when the Heat failed to cash as a 4.5-point home favorite.
Miami is 31-9 straight up and 20-20 against the spread and beat the Indiana Pacers 93-91 on Saturday but failed to cover the spread as a 9.5-point home favorite. Chicago is 35-9 SU and 25-18-1 ATS and is coming off a 104-99 victory over the New York Knicks on Monday. The Bulls could not cash as an 8-point home favorite.
The injury report has Miami guard Mike Miller out indefinitely (ankle injury), while Chicago forward Luol Deng is day-to-day (wrist injury), as is guard C.J. Watson (ankle injury).
Miami is averaging 10.4 offensive rebounds and 32.3 defensive rebounds per game, while Chicago has an average of 13.6 boards on offense and 32.3 on defense.
Miami Heat @ Dallas Mavericks Game 5 NBA Finals Pick: I would love to take the Mavericks here, and I could certainly find a couple reasons to do so. For instance, I’ve watched 4 NBA Finals games thus far (if you are into math, that’s all 4 games) and I haven’t seen the Mavs play a good game yet. It’s bound to happen one of these nights, and when they do, well, I’ll have wished I picked the Mavs. Also, the Mavs have the most clutch player in the series, Dirk Nowitzki. And since the Heat seem dead-set on making every single game a down-to-the-wire event, betting on the team with the coldest blooded super star has some value.
All that being said (and more) I have to take the Heat in Dallas on Thursday Night. I’m starting to believe that part of the reason Dallas hasn’t played well in this series yet is because Miami is just that much better than anyone else. When they play focused and up to their potential, they shouldn’t be touched.
Also, after the collapse of Game 4 (it really wasn’t that big of a collapse, not like Game 2 – but is still being recognized as a collapse because Lebron disappeared for the entire game) Miami should come out just that much more motivated. The question is, will we see the Miami team that couldn’t win big games earlier in the year? Remember, when they struggled to close games against good teams, seemingly terrified of what everyone was going to say. That could be the team we see tomorrow, and if we do, the Mavs are the answer here.
But I think we see the new Heat, the Heat team that responds well to a bad outing. Don’t forget that Lebron James is the best athlete ever, the best package of talent we’ve seen. That should count for something. There’s no “the Decision” this summer, and lord knows he doesn’t want to hear about his failure to win the big one for an entire year (or until he does). He plays well in this one, and that gets the Heat a 3-2 series lead heading home.
I hope I’m wrong.
Miami Heat (+1) @ Dallas Mavericks (6/9)
Dallas Mavericks @ Miami Heat NBA Finals Game 2 Free Pick: It seems crazy to expect Dallas to win Game 2 after the Heat beat them up defensively in Game 1, the Mavs’ best player tore a tendon in his finger, and Miami forced Dallas into a Heat-style defensive battle. Neither team shot 39% from the floor as bricks became the fashion in Game 1 – except from LeBron James and Dwayne Wade, of course – those guys had great games for Miami.
Dwayne had a huge three late, and ended up with 22 points, 10 rebounds, 6 assists and 2 blocks – just 3 turnovers, too. LeBron was 9 of 16, hit 4 of 5 from 3-point land, and tallied 9 rebounds and 5 assists along the way. Great game for the Big 2, while there wasn’t much to smile about in Game 1 for Dallas.
But I still think I’m right about this one. If Wade doesn’t hit a ridiculous step back 3 with a defender in his face, and LeBron just has a normal 3-point shooting night, the Mavericks might very well have walked away with a win in Game 1. It was certainly closer than the 8 point spread, as Miami closed it out down the stretch thanks to some poor shot selection by the Mavs.
Just look for Game 2 to be a little different. The Heat will have more turnovers than Dallas this time around. The Mavs will shoot a lot better, and if they watched film at all, Dallas will see their advantage in the post and spend more time beating the Heat up down low.
I expect the Mavs to even the series in Miami.
Dallas Mavericks (+4.5) @ Miami Heat (6/2)
Dallas Mavericks @ Miami Heat 2011 NBA Finals Game 1 Pick: The Heat are playing great basketball, but the Mavericks come in beating up on the best in the West, shutting down the Lakers in an epic sweep and ousting the young guns from Oklahoma in fine fashion. Like the Heat, the Mavericks performed admirably late in games, often coming into the final frame down big only to find a way to win anyway. This should be one heck of a series!
In the opener my money is on Dallas and the points. I expect close games throughout, as both teams have the offensive firepower to succeed in tight situations. Dallas has surrounded Dirk with perfect pieces, outside scoring, defensive post presence, and guards that can attack and penetrate. I expect Barea to have a solid series against a Heat team that struggles with dive and dish point guards.
Miami does a very good job of defending the perimeter, but I don’t know if they’ll be able to shut the Mavericks out from three-point land. Dallas can really shoot it, and with all the attention on Dirk, they’ll have their chances.
I’m not confident either way in this series, picking a winner I mean, but in game 1 the pressure has to be on the home team. If Dallas walks away down 1-0, it doesn’t mean much. If the Heat lose early, the media starts going crazy about the “Big 3” and how maybe they don’t fit perfectly together. Miami will need to hit a lot of jumpers against Dallas, and I’m not sure that’s their strong suit. We shall see, but I’ll take the road team in Game 1.
Dallas Mavericks (+5) @ Miami Heat
Miami Heat @ Chicago Bulls Game 2 NBA Free Pick: Here’s a crazy statistic for you stat-guys (and girls) out there – the Heat and Bulls have matched up 4 times this season and each game has ended with the Bulls getting a win and the Heat getting a loss. The regular season match-ups were all very close, 99-96, 93-89, and 87-86 – but Game 1 ended up with the Bulls on top of Miami by 21 big ones. Does this guarantee anything in Game 2? Nope, but in what is basically an even bet (favored by just a bucket), the Bulls have to be the percentage pick here.
I think falling behind two games to none will be terrible for the Heat, and I see them fighting like hell to even up the series in Game 2, but for the first time in while, the Heat aren’t the best defensive team on the floor, and it’s very possible that they don’t have the most important player on the floor either.
People play around with the idea of pressure, but there’s never a time where pressure is more evident than in this series. All the pressure in the world is on Miami, and Chicago’s been the better team all season long. If anything, LeBron James has shown that pressure can get to him a bit, and while I don’t expect him and Wade to struggle in Game 2 as much as Game 1, I do think that the Bulls’ defense will continue to keep them uncomfortable, and that could make the difference in this series.
I’ve said all year that Miami may have the most talent, the better players, but Chicago has the best team in the East. They ended up with the best record, and I think they’ll win this series. Winning this series starts by holding court in Game 2. I like Chicago to win against on Wednesday Night.
Miami Heat @ Chicago Bulls (-2) (5/18)
Miami Heat @ Boston Celtics Game 3 Prediction & Pick Everyone and their mom thinks the Celtics are done in this one. The new Big 3 is in town, and they’re looking for their crown – or something catchy and full of rhyme. But I’m not ready to crown them quite yet – you could say, I’m with Denny Green on this one. The Celtics, I don’t think they’ll let the Heat off the hook just like that.
Something different needs to happen, however, and all the Celtics’ old man injuries aren’t helping one bit. I think that Shaq’s presence down low might be just what the doctor ordered for the Celtics. He makes opposing offenses think twice about driving in, and more because of his size than his defensive ability. The Celtics need something, and he could be that something.
I also like Boston at home, because they are just flat out better there. Remember a couple years ago when they couldn’t win on the road in the playoffs to save their lives? Well, they’re going home to Boston, and the big headed Heat might start believing the “wrapped up” hype – and that can’t help.
The Celtics need some heroics, no doubt. Rajon Rondo has been playing very well, but they need more. Paul Pierce needs to give them something, come out with a little getty-up in his step instead of an Achilles limp. Whatever they need, I think they get it in Game 3 – I think they win in Boston.
Prediction: Heat 91 – Celtics 98
Miami Heat @ Boston Celtics (-3)
Chicago Bulls (-3400) VS. Indiana Pacers (+2200)
Starts Saturday, 1pm ET, ESPN
Those hoping for an upset, the chance is pretty fat. Danny Granger could always go wild for a game and sneak the Pacers out a win, and it’s not like this Indiana team doesn’t have some talent – but they truly are the biggest long shot underdog of the NBA Playoffs (maybe equal to New Orleans). If there’s a gimmie out there, the Bulls to win is it.
Miami Heat (-1800) VS. Philadelphia 76ers (+1000)
Starts Saturday, 3:30pm ET, abc
Those looking to cash in on the Heat will probably win their bet, but this isn’t nearly the gimmie it would seem. Sure, Philadelphia has lost all three times against the Heat so far this season, each by 9 points or more, but strung together a lot of wins over the latter half of the season, and looked good doing it. Philly lost it there toward the end, dropping 5 of their final 6, and they finished the season 6-13 ATS, but this is a deep team with a lot of options. Miami is the type of team that could drop a game and get real nervous. I think the Miami gamblers are pretty safe with their big minus bet, but a gimmie, not like LA and Chicago.
Boston Celtics (-360) VS. New York Knicks (+300)
Starts Sunday, 7pm ET, TNT
They made this one close, and I’m guessing the Knickerbockers get a lot of series bets taking them to pull the upset – but I don’t buy it. Sure, the Celtics have been playing some poor basketball down the stretch, and this team has obviously been hurting without a big man to be a defensive centerpiece, but it’s really hard for me to see the wing-it Knicks taking out the seasoned Celtics. If anything, I know Boston has more fight in them. Defensively, they play like a team, and while New York has shown the ability to beat good teams, I don’t think they can do it consistently. Winning 4 of 7, I just don’t believe.
San Antonio Spurs (-500) VS. Memphis Grizzlies (+350)
Starts Sunday, 1pm ET, TNT
Why isn’t it tougher to buy the Grizzlies pulling this upset when they don’t even have their highest paid player (Rudy Gay) in the line-up? You’d think that the NBA’s best record out West would hold a little more weight in this match-up, but the Grizzlies have become a scary team for an aging Spurs squad. This series was tied, 2-2, this season – but the Spurs were winning early, when they were beating everybody and the Grizzlies were underachieving. The Grizzlies were winning late when they started to figure it out, and the Spurs slipped a little. Certainly the Spurs get the benefit of the doubt here, but if you’re looking for an upset, you could certainly do worse than taking the Grizzlies. Zach Randolph has double-doubled the Spurs a couple times in a row, and Tony Allen has given them fits each of the last two games. If Mike Conley can hit shots, and if Marc Gasol can cause some problems with his size, looking for a 8-seed beating a 1-seed!
Orlando Magic (-550) VS. Atlanta Hawks (+425)
Starts Saturday, 7pm ET, ESPN
Now here’s one that could certainly happen, probably the best payout for an actual chance to win that you’ll get with an underdog. I know the regular season means little, but the Hawks beat the Magic in each of the last 3 games these two teams played – Al Horford and Josh Smith have done a good job of keeping up with Dwight Howard in the post, sometimes even outperforming the big man. The only time Orland beat Atlanta this season was back before the trades that revamped Orlando’s roster – since then it’s been all Hawks. Again, Orland will probably play a little different in the playoffs – and my guess is that they win in 6 – however, if I was here to gamble, the Hawks to win at +475 would be one of my wagers.
Los Angeles Lakers (-2000) VS. New Orleans Hornets (+1400)
Starts Sunday, 3:30pm ET, ESPN
Fat chance? No chance. Chris Paul is good, but he’s had better seasons, and I don’t think he’s at the top of his game. Outside of him, the Lakers are better at every single position, and it’s not close very often. If the Lakers don’t sweep this one, I will be stunned.
Dallas Mavericks (-205) VS. Portland Trailblazers (+175)
Starts Saturday, 9:30pm ET, ESPN
I think this one is a toss up, and, in fact, I like the Blazers to win this series in 6 or 7 games. I think they have the guys to match up with the Mavericks, and quite honestly, they are playing better basketball right now. Portland’s won the last two meetings, and as I said earlier, the teams over .500 that Dallas has beaten over the last quarter of the season are very few. The playoff teams they’ve beaten over the last 21 games? New Orleans. Once. The final game of the season. The New York Knicks. Once. That’s it. I like Portland, so I’m taking the +175 and loving it.
Oklahoma City Thunder (-215) VS. Denver Nuggets (+180)
Starts Sunday, 9:30pm ET, TNT
I think this one is very, very close. I love the Nuggets since the trade – what a fun team to watch, they play a lot closer to the college style, which is by far the elite style of basketball. This team shares the rock and they run, the only problem is, I think Oklahoma City can run with them. This is probably the worst match-up in the playoffs for Denver, a team that has two players greater than anybody on your team, and can match you athletically. I like the Thunder, but I’m not sure how many. Denver’s going to fight, but it could be 5 very close games or 7. I’d stay away from betting this one.
Boston Celtics @ Miami Heat Free NBA Point Spread Prediction: The Celtics are in a tough spot right now, struggling of late, still worried about their trade deadline deal that sent their biggest defensive presence packing to Oklahoma. Jeff Green hasn’t been much, but maybe that’s because he really doesn’t have a spot on the Celtics squad, aside from playing minutes behind Kevin Garnett and Paul Pierce – and let’s be honest, the youngster is neither of those guys.
These two teams are battling it out for seeding headed into the playoffs, and coming into Sunday’s game, it’s all tied up, both teams sit at 55 and 24. But it’s the Celtics that are struggling now, fighting off the end of the season at 5-5 over their last 10 games. The Heat, they are pushing for the playoffs, and though they haven’t been beating up on the big bad teams in either conference, they are 8-2 over their last 10.
The Celtics haven’t lost to the Heat yet this season, winning their first 3 contests by an average of about 5 points per game. But this game means a lot to Miami, more so than it means to Boston, and I think that makes the difference in this one. I’ll take the Heat to win and cover.
Boston Celtics @ Miami Heat -6 (4/10)