In Wednesday’s Game 2 clash with the Miami Heat, the Boston Celtics’ quartet of stars including Rajon Rondo, Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen were able to score the most points combined during any contest played together. With 96 points between them, nearly 5 points more the team’s total playoff scoring average, most would think that surely the Celtics would have walked away from Game 2 with the series tied and home-court advantage washed away for the Heat. Despite one of Boston’s best performances on offense, including an all-time best showing from Rajon Rondo (44 points, 10 assists, 8 rebounds), the Celtics defense suffered as a result, and the game wound up in the hands of the Heat, 115-111 in overtime. Evident of the fact that Boston can’t expect to go toe-to-toe offensively with a more dominant and more talented Miami Heat team, tonight at home at the TD Garden in Boston, the Celtics will have to put everything on the line defensively, in an extremely critical Game 3 that will make or break Boston’s chances in this series. With tip-off set for 8:30 PM ET, get your wagers set for what should be the most physical, most vocal, and most exciting match-up of this series so far.
Breaking down the numbers from Game 2, Miami was able to outlast the onslaught of the best combined Boston scoring effort by getting a few stand-up performances on offense, and winning key areas of the basketball game throughout the evening. Once again the Heat produced more points of fast-breaks (18-10), won the battle of the offensive glass (13-8), and outscored Boston in the paint (40-30). Despite being outshot from the floor on the evening and suffering a lousy night at the free-throw line, Miami’s core of Dwayne Wade and LeBron James got help from Mario Chalmers (22 points) and Udonis Haslem (13 points, 11 rebounds), who as their own scoring quartet managed a combined 92 points to all but nullify the outstanding efforts of Rondo and the Celtics. Bench scoring ended up being a critical factor in Game 2, with Miami getting 25 points off the seats to Boston’s 7. For Boston to rebound, and to have any chance at a comeback in this series, Game 3 must shift the focus from trying to run with the Heat, to simply stopping the Heat on offense, something they’ve been very good at doing this year while at home. History bodes well for the Celtics in Game 3 at the Garden tonight, as in the two match-ups played against Miami this year, the Celtics held the Heat to an average of just 69 points, winning each meeting by at least 12 points while holding the Heat to no better than 38.4 percent shooting from the floor. It’s evident that in order for Boston to make this a series, they have to get back to playing their style of basketball; dominant on defense, slowing down the pace, and forcing the opposing team into making tough shots. The tide of fast-break points, rebounds and points in the paint must turn in Boston’s favor this evening, or a 3-0 deficit will all but signal the death knell for the Celtics in this year’s playoffs.
Miami on the other hand, while matching up extremely well against the Celtics down in South Florida, will have to adjust for what most likely will be Boston’s most aggressive game of the year. With a group of savvy veterans like Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen well aware that this could be the last chance to salvage this series, and possibly the last series the Boston core plays together, there’s no doubt that head coach Erik Spoelstra will have his guys prepared for the full onslaught of a rallying Celtics team. There is no question that Boston is a wounded animal heading into tonight’s match-up, but the Heat will have to focus on taking the Celtics crowd out of the equation early by establishing their style of basketball in a tough road environment. That means overcoming a Boston defense that will try to hound Miami’s top scorers, including LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Mario Chalmers, and getting into transition whenever possible, to press the pace against an older, more weary Celtics team coming into tonight’s match-up. Interestingly enough, it’s been Boston’s lack of solid defense against the Heat’s half court offense that has really hurt them, which factors well for the Heat who have been able to shoot the ball well from outside the paint as well as within. Miami has done a good job and finding defensive mismatches and penetrating the lanes with crisp passing to open scorers, and will have to continue that trend from the get-go if they want to keep Boston in check. Momentum will be everything for the Heat in a hostile environment. They take the crowd, and the confidence out of Boston’s game plan from the early moments of the game, they’ll stand a good chance at overcoming in an arena where they have struggled this year. If they allow Boston to set the tone on offense and succumb to a more physical defense effort from the Celtics, the Heat will wind up with a double-digit loss as they have already suffered twice this year.
What will be interesting for Boston backers tonight, is how the Celtics are able to rebound from a deflating Game 2, where their best scoring efforts were matched and overcome by the Miami Heat, and where Boston’s veteran players were taxed to the extreme in a tough overtime contest. Key for the Celtics is the health of Ray Allen, who despite playing on an injured ankle, turned in north of 40 minutes in Game 2. Allen’s presence from beyond the arc, and from the free-throw line, has to be improved over what he’s done so far in this series and the playoffs. Interestingly enough, Allen did not play in either home game this year against the Heat, so expect him to be a factor one way or another, as the Celtics must have their long-range sharp-shooter providing key 3-pointers that give them a boost in front of their home crowd. Now more than ever Boston also has to find a way to improve their performances around the paint, as outside Kevin Garnett, only Brandon Bass managed to contribute anything to the Celtics bottom line (8 points, 10 rebounds). Boston is really thin on both sides of the ball underneath the bucket, and despite the fact that Garnett will likely take charge physically in tonight’s game and look to be the team leader down low, the Celtics have to find contributions at the low post from someone else as well. That puts added pressure on Brandon Bass to step up and have a huge game, as without his efforts and him taking focus away from KG, Boston is once again going to struggle to win key areas of this match-up, including points in the paint, offensive rebounds, and second-chance points. It will be interesting to see if Celtics’ coach Doc Rivers does more rotating down low with his bench players, including Ryan Hollins and Greg Stiemsma, if only to give their two main big men more rest. That would however be a huge gamble to make, but one that may be worth it provided that the Celtics can get ahead and get their inside players a little rest before the final push in the 4th quarter.
Betting Lines for the Boston Celtics hosting the Miami Heat at Sportsbetting Sportsbook.
Despite the struggles of the Miami Heat on the road at Boston this regular season, the Heat come in as only slight underdogs at the TD Garden tonight, with +115 odds to win straight up and take a commanding 3-0 series lead. With Boston’s back against the wall, they’ll get the nod as favorites on the money line, receiving -135 odds to win.
Against the spread, the lines move even tighter, with Boston just a 2 point favorite, and Miami getting only 2 points to play with as the underdog. Give even odds to the Heat, and -110 odds to Boston to cover the spread.
For the total points line, the over/under has been drawn in at 180.5 points, to indicate the improved form that Boston plays under while hosting games on their own floor. In order for Boston to win tonight, they simply must keep Miami around the average that the Celtics are giving up to opposing offenses this postseason, 86.6 points. With an expected lower scoring game, but a low over/under coming after a huge breakthrough in score for Game 2, look for the bulk of wagers to continue going towards the upside of the total points line.
In this crucial Game 3, make sure to check out all the betting options across any and all of the top online sports betting sites reviewed here to get a hold of the best betting lines that suit your wagering style. No doubt this will be the most exciting sporting event on the docket for Friday night, so choose those bets wisely and hopefully come out a winner today!