NBA Finals: LA Lakers vs. Boston Celtics Game 3 Preview and Pick

Los Angeles Lakers (57-25 SU, 34-46-2 ATS) vs. Boston Celtics (53-29 SU, 48-34 ATS), 9:00 p.m. EST, Tuesday, June 8, 2010, TD Garden, Boston, Mass. TV: ABC
by Ryno of Predictem.com

Point Spread: Lakers +2.5/Celtics -2.5
Over/Under: 192.5

Things change so quickly. In just one game, it went from looking like the Los Angeles Lakers were in control of the series to now looking like the Boston Celtics have the advantage. After the Lakers easily won Game 1 at home, the Celtics rebounded with an impressive performance in Game 2 to tie the series up at 1-1. Now, the series moves to Boston for three games, as the Celtics now have the home court advantage in the series.

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With the series tied at 1-1, Game 3 is very important. If the Celtics win, they have control of the series and will need to just split one of the next two games to have a 3-2 lead, needing just one more win after that to win the series. Or they could win all three home games and win the series in Boston. If the Lakers win, they regain home court advantage. Even if they were to lose the next two games after that, they would still be down 3-2 and be going home for the final two games of the series.

In Game 1, the Lakers won, 102-89. The Lakers had control of the game the entire time, including a 20-point lead after the third quarter. Kobe Bryant had another sensational game with 30 points, seven rebounds and six assists. Pau Gasol dominated down low with 23 points and 14 rebounds. The Celtics just really didn’t look like themselves.

But in Game 2, the Celtics won, 103-94. They shot the ball well, they shared the ball, and they defended. Ray Allen had a historic night with 32 points on 8-of-11 shooting from 3-point range. That set an all-time NBA Finals record for most 3-pointers made in a game. Rajon Rondo also had quite the historic night, notching a triple-double with 19 points, 12 rebounds and 10 assists. Kendrick Perkins scored 12 points and Paul Pierce added 10 points. Kevin Garnett only had six points and grabbed just four rebounds while stuck in foul trouble for much of the game. Glen Davis had eight points and seven rebounds off the bench, Rasheed Wallace had seven points and seven rebounds, and Nate Robinson contributed seven points.

Kobe was held to 21 points on 8-of-20 shooting from the field and he added six assists and five rebounds. Kobe was in foul trouble the whole night so he spent some time on the bench and had to be careful when he was in the game. Gasol had another terrific night with 25 points, eight rebounds and six blocks. Andrew Bynum really stepped up for perhaps his best performance of the 2010 playoffs with 21 points, six rebounds and seven blocks.

The Lakers shot 41 percent from the field and 5-for-22 on 3-pointers, while the Celtics shot 43 percent from the field and 11-for-16 on 3-pointers. The Celtics outrebounded the Lakers by five and had two fewer turnovers.

The Celtics won the game with only two players really contributing offensively - Allen and Rondo. Allen isn’t going to continue shooting that well every game. The Celtics can’t afford to have just 16 combined points from Pierce and Garnett and they definitely can’t afford to only have 10 combined rebounds from Perkins and Garnett. Everyone has to play well every night for the Celtics to win this series. For the Lakers, if Kobe isn’t dominating then the role players have to step up and carry his slack. Lamar Odom only had three points in Game 2. Ron Artest only had six points. That can’t happen. They need much more out of Odom and Artest, even when Kobe is playing well. When he’s off, then those guys definitely have to step up for the Lakers to win.

The Lakers are 4-1 ATS in their last five games as an underdog. The Celtics are 4-1 ATS in their last five home games. The underdog and the road team are both 3-1-1 ATS in the last five meetings between these teams. The Lakers are 3-10-1 ATS in their last 14 meetings with the Celtics and 1-4-1 ATS in their last five meetings in Boston.

Ryno’s Pick: The difference between a winning handicapper and a losing handicapper is the ability to decipher what SHOULD happen vs. what CAN happen. These two teams have had a handful of games in which the final margin of victory was decided by 1 point. It would not be out of the ordinary to see the Lakers win straight up either, so with that being said, I’m taking LA plus the points to cover the spread.