Get the best handicapping articles and gambling advice throughout the football, basketball and baseball seasons from the world's top sports handicappers, as well as from Bovada (Bodog) Sportsbook and Casino.
NBA Playoff Journal -- June 11
by Larry Ness - 06/11/2012
The 2012 postseason marked the third straight year in which Boston and Miami had met in the playoffs (fifth time in seven postseasons). The Heat eliminated the Celtics in five games last year and while this year’s series went seven games (Celtics owned a 3-2 lead heading into Game 6), the way Game 7 ended Saturday night was eerily familiar to last season. Miami won the first two games of last year’s series but then lost Game 3 in Boston, 97-81. Last year’s Game 4 went into OT, with the Heat winning 98-80, basically clinching the series. This year saw Miami (down 3-2) win in Boston 98-79 in Game 6 and then win Game 7 back in Miami, 101-88. So what’s the similarity?
Going back to last year’s Game 4 in Boston, James, Wade and Bosh scored 83 of Miami's 98 points and grabbed 35 of its 45 rebounds. Miami’s “Big 3” scored the final 31 points for the Heat, including all 12 in OT. No other Heat player scored in the 4th quarter or OT for Miami, with the trio taking the team’s final 20 shots, including all seven in OT. The last player outside the Big 3 to take a FG attempt was Mike Miller with 9:57 left in the 4th quarter and the last player outside the Big 3 to score was Joel Anthony, who made a layup with 54.6 second remaining in the 3rd quarter. Now, fast-forward to this past Saturday night.
The Celtics took a 53-46 lead at the half but Miami tied the game by the end of the 3rd quarter. Boston’s last lead came around the eight-minute mark (82-81), but the Heat would outscore the Celtics 20-6 down the stretch. Miami's Big 3 scored the team’s last 31 points, including all 28 in the 4th quarter. Sound familiar? The Heat outscored the Celtics by 21 points in the 27 minutes with Chris Bosh, LeBron James and Dwyane Wade on the court together. LBJ had 31 points and 12 rebounds, Wade chipped in 23-6-6 and Bosh (in 31 minutes) had 19 & 8, including making a career-best three, three-pointers.
I guess it’s safe to say it was a pretty good series for the much-maligned James. He averaged 33.6-11.0-3.9 in the seven games, connecting of 52.7 percent from the floor. He had six 30-point games, five 30-point/10-rebound games, a 45-point elimination game on the road and scored 11-points in the fourth quarter of Game 7, in sealing the series win. James’ averages of 33.6 points and 11.0 rebounds per game (while making 52.7 percent of his FGs) against the Celtics have been matched by only two other players in NBA playoff history, in a seven-game series. Once again, LBJ finds himself in ‘rarified air,’ as the two he joins are Wilt and Kareem. Chamberlain (38.6 & 23.4 on 55.9%) did it in the 1964 Western Division Finals for the San Francisco Warriors against the St Louis Hawks and Abdul-Jabbar (37.1 & 18.7 on 60.7%) did it in the 1977 Conference Semis for the Lakers against Golden State.
Miami’s Saturday win makes home teams 89-22 (80%) all-time in Game 7s and the conference finals finished with home teams going 10-3 SU and 8-5 ATS. Home teams are 52-27 (44-34-1 ATS) this postseason, with the NBA Finals beginning Tuesday in Oklahoma City. The Thunder are favored by five points (total is 195 1/2) in Game 1 and for the series, are favored by about minus-$1.70. SEVEN of the last eight games have gone over, leaving it 39 overs and 40 unders after 79 postseason contests. Those following the Zig Zag theory went just 4-7 in the conference finals and are 32-32-1 ATS this postseason, which is minus-3.2 net games.
Join me for my Finals Preview, Tuesday by 2:00 ET.