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Celtics - Lakers Game 7 Preview

   by Matt Fargo - 06/16/2010

The Numbers



The Lakers are -7 for Game Seven of the NBA Finals over the Celtics. Game Six saw the closing line of Los Angeles -6 and this game opened at -6.5 so the number is being shaded toward the favorite. The total is at 187 which is the lowest number in this series thus far but for good reason as the ‘Under’ is 5-1-1 and in some cases 6-1 with four straight coming in.



Another Blowout?



For a series that has gone the distance, it hasn’t been very entertaining.



The smallest margin of victory has been six points, a Boston win in Game Five, while the average margin of victory has been 10.7 ppg. You would think that the Finals would produce more close finishes and important last second possessions but that has not been the case.



What does this mean for Game Seven? It means we are overdue for a fantastic finish as the whole 2010 playoffs owe us as from the start, as it has been pretty much a dud. Who knows if we will actually get it but if you like playing the odds of it happening, you have to like the Celtics to bounce back from a dreadful Game Six.



Looking purely at probabilities, Boston has a 75 percent chance of covering based on the four different outcomes that can take place. If we do see a blowout, the Lakers or Celtics can be on the winning side, therefore a split cover. Should we see a close game, the Lakers or Celtics can again be on the winning side outright but the Celtics would cover in both instances.



Rebounding



When it comes to winning basketball games, any number of factors comes into play such as shooting, turnovers and free throws. In this series, the biggest factor has been rebounding and it has not really been close.



The winning team has had the edge on the glass in all six games thus far. The average margin of the boards per game is 7.1 so it is safe to say who wins the battle of the boards in Game Seven will be the eventual NBA Champion.



If only it were that easy. The issue now is injuries. The Lakers have had a hobbled Andrew Bynum throughout the series so the inside advantage they were thought to have heading in ended up being negated. The Celtics have their own problems how as Kendrick Perkins sprained his knee in Game Six and is doubtful for the season finale.



“He’s a guy that cleans the paint up, let’s say, and not having him there made the Lakers awful long,” Celtics head coach Doc Rivers said. “He's one of our guys that I think gives us great spirit, gives us a lot of toughness and size. You know, I hope he can play. It would be tough if he can't.”



Game Seven History Lesson



Only 16 previous NBA Finals have gone to a decisive Game Seven and it has happened only three times since the Lakers and Celtics went the distance in 1984 and the second since the Knicks and Rockets went seven games in 1994.



Home court advantage is obviously big now when it comes to the decisive game and history definitely proves that. Overall, the home team has won 13 of 16 Game Sevens in the NBA Finals. Tightening that up, since the 2-3-2 playoff format of the NBA Finals was instituted in 1985, there have been three Game Sevens and the home team has won all three.



Those three wins were by an average of only 5.3 ppg.



While players and coaches will be treating this game like all others, it is not the same and there are some big names that have never experienced this. This is the first NBA Finals Game Seven for Kobe Bryant and Derek Fisher, who have played in 393 combined playoff games. Maybe most surprising, neither has Phil Jackson, who has coached in 322 postseason games and won 10 championships.



The 2010 Finals will be the fifth Lakers-Celtics series to go seven games and in the previous four instances, the Celtics have beaten the Lakers by an average of just 4.0 ppg.



Kobe’s Legacy



Kobe Bryant is a future Hall of Famer and one of the greatest players to ever step on an NBA floor. This Game Seven could go a long way in determining exactly where he ranks however.



As mentioned, he has never played in Game Seven in the NBA Finals. Neither did Michael Jordan. Therefore winning a championship in a decisive Game Seven will give Bryant an additional stat that Jordan does not have on his résumé. A win would also give Bryant his fifth NBA Title, tying him with Magic Johnson and trailing Jordan by only one.



Should the Lakers lose, Bryant will have gone down three times compared to Jordan having never lost when going to the NBA Finals. It many not seem like much but it is a pretty big difference and one that Bryant will be compared to forever.



While this game will determine where Bryant currently ranks among the best ever, he isn’t taking it any different. “It's no different to me,” he said. “I don't mean to be a buzz kill, but it's not. I know what's at stake but I'm not tripping. It's a game we've got to win, simple as that. I'm not going crazy over it.”



Trends



The Celtics are 7-1 ATS in their last seven games following a straight up loss.



The Lakers are 6-14 ATS in their last 20 games following an ATS win.



The ‘Over’ is 13-6 in the Celtics last 19 games following a double-digit loss.



The ‘Over’ is 7-2-2 in the Lakers last 11 games following a straight up win.



The Celtics are 12-5-1 ATS in the last 18 meetings.

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