2008 NBA Finals Game 3 Preview and Pick

Boston Celtics (66-16 regular season) +9, 195 at Los Angeles Lakers ( 57-25), 9 pm Eastern Tuesday, ABC
by Zman of Predictem.com

After coming in as the favorites to win the NBA Championship Series, despite having to play the first two games and possibly four of this best-of-7 affair on the road, the Los Angeles Lakers will look to keep this from becoming a desperation situation when they host the Boston Celtics in game 3 Tuesday night back at Staples Center in LA.

Boston won games 1 and 2 back in Beantown, covering the spreads once as a small home favorite and again as a small home dog. The Celtics built a 24-point 4th-quarter lead in game 2 Sunday night, then allowed Los Angeles to creep within two points, before eventually winning 108-102.

Basketball bookies are listing the Lakers as rather heavy nine-point home favorites for Tuesday’s game 3, with a total of 195. LA is also listed at around -600 on various Vegas moneylines, with Boston getting +450 as road underdogs.

None of the next three games if it goes that far played in LA will see such a disparity in free-throw shooting as in game 2, in which Boston went 27-38 from the charity stripe, while the Lakers went 10-10.

Through the first two games of this series, the Celtics are shooting 47% from the floor, the Lakers 46%. And Boston outrebounded LA in both games, by 13 and one.


Boston swept two games from Los Angeles during the regular season, and in the process held Bryant to 15-of-46 FG shooting. So after an 11-of-23 shooting performance Sunday night, Bryant is 35-for-95 from the floor in four games vs. Boston this season, and the Lakers are winless.

Los Angeles was favored by as much as -190 to win this series before it started, while bettors could get Boston at upwards of +160. Now, LA will try to become just the fourth team in league history to come back from an 0-2 deficit to win the championship series.

Boston went 31-10 straight up and 27-13 against the spread on the road this regular season. Meanwhile, the Lakers went 30-11 SU and 2020 ATS at Staples Center.

In the four games these two teams have played vs. each other this year, the biggest lead the Lakers have held was a seven-point advantage they owned in game 3 Sunday night. On the other hand, the Celtics have led three of the four games by more than 20 points.

Statistically speaking;

Boston shot 47.5% from the floor as a team this regular season, 38% from long range and 77% from the line. The Celtics also led the league in FG defense at 42%, ranked 4th in rebounding at +3.1 per game, and averaged a 24-14 A/TO ratio.

LA shot 48% from the field as a team, 38% from 3-point range and 77% from the free-throw line. The Lakers also ranked 6th in the league in FG defense at 44.5% and 8th in rebounding at +1.4 per game, and posted a 22/14 per-game assist-to-turnover ratio.

LA is 12-5 in these playoffs, and 10-6-1 ATS. Meanwhile, Boston is 14-8 SU this playoff season, 10-12 ATS. Also, the Lakers are 8-0 straight up at home during these playoffs, 6-2 vs. the numbers, while the Celtics are 27 both SU and against the spread on the road.

The Sagarin PREDICTOR ratings at USAToday.com rank Boston #1 at 98.98, the Lakers #2 at 98.11. Sagarin’s current NBA home-court advantage figure is 4.04.

The totals went 36-45 in Celtics games during the regular season, which averaged 191 total points, while Lakers games averaged 210 points, and the totals went 40-41.

During this playoff season, the totals are 10-12 in Celtics games, which have averaged 181 total points, while LA is 6-11 on the totals, as Lakers games have averaged 203 points.

Zman’s Pick: I can understand Los Angeles coming home with some serious motivation to kick Boston’s butt, but +9.5? I gotta side with the public here and grab the fat line despite it being a square move.