Opening Betting Line : Celtics +5 / Heat -5
Over/Under : 182.5
Game Time : 3:30 PM EST Sunday May 1, 2011 on ABC
The Celtics slid to the 3rd seed in the East since they only played around .500 basketball after the All Star break, but they looked like a title contender in sweeping the New York Knicks in the first round of the playoffs. They beat the Heat in 3 of 4 games this season, but in the last match up in Miami they lost by 23 points.
The Heat beat the Philadelphia 76ers in 5 games in the opening round of the playoffs and they are at home in Game 1 of this series. The new Big 3 played well in the 76ers’ series, but Dwayne Wade had major issues against Boston and their solid defense and only averaged 12.8 ppg on a paltry 28% shooting this season after averaging 25.5 ppg. The Heat have the new Big 3 and a solid defense, but guarding Rajon Rondo is a big question mark in this game and series.
In their closeout games in their opening round playoff series’ the Celtics beat the Knicks 101-89 last Sunday and the Heat beat the 76ers 97-91 on Wednesday.
This season Boston is 40-44-2 ATS and Miami is 42-44-1 ATS. The Celtics have covered the spread in 4 of their last 5 games facing the Heat.
On the season the Heat are 35-8 at home and the Celtics are 33-11 on the road.
Boston has the top-ranked defense in the league and it is no secret that they have to play solid D against Wade, LeBron James, and Chris Bosh. The play of Bosh may be key, as the Heat do not have much inside scoring and in 4 games against Boston this season he averaged 15.5 ppg. He will be blanketed by Kevin Garnett and if he can score it will take a lot of pressure of James and Wade.
The Heat’s defense ranks 6th in the league in opponents’ points allowed and their perimeter D is key in this game and series. Rondo had a great series against the Knicks and against the Heat this season he averaged 12 assists per game. Ray Allen shot a 3-pt FG% of 65.4% in the New York series and the Heat cannot allow him and Paul Pierce to bomb away from deep.
Shaquille O’Neal practiced on Friday and head coach Doc Rivers stated he will play in this series and if the Diesel can play and play well he may be key, as the Heat do not have much of a presence inside.
In some betting trends for this Eastern Conference semifinals game:
Boston is e 6-2 ATS in their last 8 playoff games as an underdog of 5.0-10.5, 10-4 ATS in their last 14 games as an underdog, and has an Under record of 4-1-1 in their last 6 road games.
Miami is 2-5 ATS in their last 7 home games and they have an Under record of 6-2 in their last 8 games.
Our Selection : The Celtics won 3 out of 4 against the Heat during the regular season and seemed to be rounded into form with any easy sweep of the Knicks. The Celtic will be well rested not playing since last Sunday coming off 2 dominating wins on the road in New York. The public as per usual are all over the Heat this Sunday with the opening line moving from 4.5 to 5, we now see some 5.5's out there and could even see a few 6's by game time. We like Boston here as a very live dog who have a great shot to steal a road win in the opener of this series. Take the Celtics +5.5 at Betus.
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