Miami Heat (47-35 SU, 43-37-2 ATS) vs. Boston Celtics (50-32 SU, 33-48-1 ATS), 8:00 p.m. EST, Saturday, April 17, 2010, TD Garden, Boston, Mass. TV: ESPN
by Ryno of Predictem.com
Point Spread: Heat +4.5/Celtics -4.5
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Not many people are giving the Boston Celtics a chance in the playoffs this year. People think they are too old and washed up and can’t possibly win the NBA Championship. It certainly would be a tough road for the Celtics, as they got the No. 4 seed and will have to face the No. 5 seed Miami Heat. If they win that series, they would likely go up against the No. 1 seed Cleveland Cavaliers. It wouldn’t be easy at all for the Celtics, but they are out to prove they are still a contender in the Eastern Conference. Their first step will be Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Quarterfinals on Saturday night when they host Dwyane Wade and the Heat.
The Celtics were eliminated last year in the Eastern Conference Semifinals. They barely got by the Chicago Bulls in seven games in the first round. Then, they lost in seven games to the Orlando Magic. The Celtics had a 3-2 series lead, but they lost Game 6 83-75 in Orlando and then lost Game 7 at home, 101-82.
The Heat lost in seven games in the first round of the playoffs last year to the Atlanta Hawks. In a series full of blowouts, the Hawks grabbed a 3-2 series lead before the Heat tied it up at home in Game 6 with a 98-72 victory. But in Atlanta in Game 7, the Hawks won the game 91-78 to win the series and eliminate the Heat.
The Celtics swept the season series with the Heat this season, 3-0. The Celtics won the first game in Miami on November 29, 92-85. The Celtics won the second game in Miami on January 6, 112-106. The Celtics won the final game of the regular season series at home on February 3, 107-102. The Heat competed in all three games and had a chance to win each of them but the Celtics made all of the big plays down the stretch in the three games to get the wins.
The Celtics have as strong of a starting lineup as any team in the NBA. They have a super scoring trio of Paul Pierce, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett. Pierce is averaging 18.3 points, 4.4 rebounds and 3.1 assists per game this season, Allen is averaging 16.3 points, 3.2 rebounds and 2.6 assists per game, and Garnett is averaging 14.3 points, 7.3 rebounds and 2.7 assists per game. Those three players are all veteran leaders.
Then, there’s the young energetic point guard who gets the three of them the ball - Rajon Rondo, who is averaging 13.7 points, 9.8 assists and 4.4 rebounds per game. In the playoffs last year, Rondo was spectacular. He nearly averaged a triple double with 16.9 points, 9.7 rebounds and 9.8 assists per game in the 2009 NBA Playoffs. In 14 games in the 2009 playoffs, Rondo had three triple-doubles and nine double-doubles.
The final member of the Celtics starting lineup is Kendrick Perkins, who is averaging 10.1 points and 7.6 rebounds per game. Off the bench, the Celtics have Rasheed Wallace, Nate Robinson, Glen Davis, Tony Allen, Marquis Daniels and Michael Finley.
The Heat are led by Dwayne Wade, who of course is one of the best in the business. He is averaging 26.6 points, 6.5 assists and 4.5 rebounds per game this season. The Celtics will have to figure out a way to stop Wade, but they don’t really have any individual defensive stoppers on the wings. Rondo isn’t strong enough and Pierce and Allen aren’t nimble enough to stick with Wade. Instead of trying to shut down Wade, the Celtics may be better off concentrating on shutting down the rest of the Heat players.
Those players include Michael Beasley, Jermaine O’Neal and Udonis Haslem. Beasley is averaging 14.8 points and 6.4 rebounds per game, O’Neal is averaging 13.6 points and 6.9 rebounds per game, and Haslem, who comes off the bench, is averaging 9.9 points and 8.1 rebounds per game. The other role players for the Heat include Quentin Richardson, Mario Chalmers, Dorell Wright and Carlos Arroyo.
The over is 5-1 in the last six meetings between these teams and 3-1-1 in the last five meetings in Boston. The favorite is 8-2 ATS in the last 10 meetings between these teams and the road team is 4-1 ATS in the last five. The Heat are 3-7 ATS in their last 10 meetings with the Celtics.
Ryno’s Pick: I like the Celtics savvy veterans to win and cover this game.