2008 NBA Finals Game 4 Preview and Pick

Boston Celtics (66-16 regular season) +7, 191 at Los Angeles Lakers (57-25), 9 pm Eastern Thursday, ABC
by Zman of Predictem.com

The Los Angeles Lakers avoided falling down 3-0 in the best-of-7 NBA Championship Series with a win over the Boston Celtics in game 3 Tuesday night. Now LA gets a chance to get this thing even when the teams meet for game 4 Thursday night at Staples Center.

Hoops Bookies are listing LA as 7 1/2-point home favorites for Thursday’s game, with a total of 191. The Lakers are also posted at around -360 on the moneylines, with Boston getting around +280.

Boston has covered the point spread each of the first three games of this series. And the totals have gone 1-2, as the first three games have averaged 188 points.

Los Angeles was also listed at upwards of -190 to win this series before
it started, even though they did not own home-court advantage. Meanwhile,
Boston backers could find the Celtics at upwards of +165. Now, after three
games, most sportsbooks list this series at right around a pick ’em.

The Lakers took game 3 Monday night in ugly fashion, 87-81, failing to cover the spread as nine-point home chalk. LA shot 43.5% from the field, Boston 35%, the teams combined to commit 51 fouls and miss 20 free throws, and just four players scored in double figures. All of which helped the game stay 27 points below its total of 195.

Through the first three games of this series, the Celtics are shooting 43% from the field, the Lakers 45%. And Boston owns a rebounding advantage of five per game.

Boston swept two games from Los Angeles during the regular season, and in the process held Kobe Bryant to 15-of-46 FG shooting. And after the first two games of this series, Bryant had gone 35-for-95 from the floor in his four games vs. Boston this season. But the league MVP had a fine outing Tuesday night, going 12-20 from the field, although he did go just 11-18 from the free-throw line, for 36 points total.

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.

LA is 13-5 in these playoffs, and 10-7-1 ATS. Meanwhile, Boston is 14-9 SU this playoff season, 11-12 ATS. Also, the Lakers are 9-0 straight up at home during these playoffs, 6-3 vs. the numbers, while the Celtics are 28 SU and 3-7 against the spread on the road.

During this regular season, Boston shot 47.5% from the floor as a team, 38% from 3-point range and 77% from the free-throw line. Also, the Celtics 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 this regular season, 38% from beyond the arc and 77% from the 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 A/TO.

On the injury front, Boston G Rajon Rondo tweaked an ankle Tuesday night, but is listed as probable for Thursday’s game.

The Sagarin PREDICTOR ratings at USAToday.com ranks Boston #1 at 98.83, the Lakers #2 at 98.23. Sagarin’s current NBA home-court advantage figure is 4.05. And Sagarin’s PREDICTOR formula is 3-0 against the spread in this series.

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.

The totals are 10-13 in Celtics games this playoff season, which have averaged 180 total points, while the totals are 6-12 in Lakers games, which have averaged 201 points.

Zman’s Pick: I think the Lakers handle the Celtics tonight. Lay the points.