Boston Celtics (14-4 SU, 8-10 ATS) vs. San Antonio Spurs (9-6 SU, 8-7 ATS), 8:00 p.m. EST, Thursday, December 3, 2009, Alamodome, San Antonio, Tex. TV: TNT
by Ryno of Predictem.com
Betting Odds: Celtics +1.5/Spurs -1.5
Two of the best power forwards in the history of the NBA face off in San Antonio as Tim Duncan and the Spurs host Kevin Garnett and the Boston Celtics.
These two teams are two of the oldest teams in the NBA. Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen, Paul Pierce, Eddie House, Brian Scalabrine and Rasheed Wallace are all over 30 years old for the Celtics. Tim Duncan, Michael Finley, Manu Ginobili, Antonio McDyess and Theo Ratliff are all over 30 years old for the Spurs.
But it’s the starting point guards, both in their 20’s, that could be the keys for these two teams. The Spurs’ Tony Parker and the Celtics’ Rajon Rondo are two of the best floor leaders in the league. Rondo is averaging 10.8 points, 9.0 assists and 2.4 steals per game, while Parker is averaging 16.5 points and 5.5 assists per game.
The Celtics haven’t always looked like a championship-caliber team this season, but they have managed to grab some close wins. They pulled off a 107-105 overtime win on November 22 on a buzzer-beater jumper by Kevin Garnett to win the game. Three days later, they held off the 76ers for a 113-110 win. Since losing 83-78 to the Magic on November 20, the Celtics have won five games in a row. Most recently, they won 108-90 over the Charlotte Bobcats on Tuesday. Ray Allen led the Celtics in scoring with 27 points, including 5-for-6 from 3-point range. Kendrick Perkins had 21 points and 12 rebounds, and Rajon Rondo chipped in with eight points and nine assists. The Celtics shot 54.5 percent from the field and made 10 of their 17 3-point attempts. They were also 26-for-29 from the free throw line.
After starting the season with a 4-6 record, the Spurs have also won five games in a row. Each of those five wins has come by at least eight points. Their most recent game was an 87-79 win over the 76ers on Sunday, so the Spurs have had plenty of rest leading up to this game. And that game was at home, as is this one, so they’ve been in their own beds all of this week. In the win over the 76ers, the Spurs did it mostly with clutch 3-point shooting. They shot 10-for-18 from beyond the arc. Off the bench, Finley was 3-for-5 on 3-point attempts and Matt Bonner was 4-for-6. Duncan led the team in scoring with 22 points. Parker had 16 points and eight assists.
There are some very strong matchups in this game - Duncan vs. Garnett, Parker vs. Rondo, and Pierce vs. Richard Jefferson. It’s possible to argue that either player has the advantage in the first two of those three matchups, but Pierce definitely has the edge over Jefferson. And at the other two starting positions, Allen has the advantage over Keith Bogans or Finley and Perkins has the edge over McDyess or Bonner. As long as the Celtics can utilize these advantages and shoot as well as they have been lately, they should win this game. The Spurs need to pound the ball inside to Duncan and work off him. Parker and Jefferson will especially have to be making their jumpers for the Spurs to win this game.
The Celtics are 4-9 ATS in their last 13 games. The total has gone over in four of their last five games. The Spurs are 4-1 ATS in their last five games and 7-3 ATS in their last 10 home games. The total has gone under in five of their last seven games.
Ryno’s Pick: Expect a hard-fought defensive battle in this one with disciplined offensive execution. These two teams are two of the best class acts in the NBA these days, and their veterans will demonstrate how basketball should be played. This game should be low-scoring because of the strong defense and focus on offensive execution. Neither of these teams is best suited running up and down the court all game long. Either team can do that if it has to, but both teams would prefer to play a half-court game. Pierce and Allen should have big games in this one. As long as at least one of them is hitting their shots consistently, the Celtics will edge out the Spurs on the road. Take the Celtics +1.5.