For the 12th time in the last 51 years, the Celtics and Lakers will meet in the NBA Finals. Both teams went six games in their conference series to set up a rematch from two seasons ago when Boston topped Los Angeles, also in six games. The series will begin on Thursday from LA's Staples Center with the Celtics six-point underdogs. ABC has the action throughout the series with Game 1 starting at 9 p.m. ET.
The Boston Celtics have a record 17 NBA Championships and will look to add another against either the Los Angeles Lakers or Phoenix Suns.
Boston advanced to the NBA Finals for the second time in three years with Friday’s 96-84 victory against the Orlando Magic. Doc Rivers’ club covered the spread as a 3 ½-point home favorite to win its 21st Eastern Conference title, eliminating Stan Van Gundy’s squad in six games.
Celtics captain Paul Pierce (19.1 PPG) logged a team-high 31 points and 13 rebounds in Friday’s win for his second double-double in three games. “The Truth” shot 9-for-15 from the field and added five assists.
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Boston starting guards Ray Allen and Rajon Rondo combined for 34 points. Allen drained 3-of-7 from beyond the arc, while Rondo notched a team-high six assists.
Power forward Rasheed Wallace (9 PPG) was a game-time decision for Boston due to a back injury and remains “day-to-day,” according to DonBest.com. The four-time basketball All-Star played for 12 minutes, shooting 0-for-5 from the field.
The series clincher’s combined 180 points ducked ‘under’ the ‘total’ of 187 ½. Orlando was out-rebounded, 45-35, with both teams uniting for 25 turnovers.
Los Angeles currently leads the Western Conference Finals’ best-of-seven series, 3-2. Boston’s most recent title came against the Lakers in 2008, when both clubs were each conference’s top seed. The Celtics were 6-0 ATS in winning the six-game series, 4-2, with the ‘totals’ splitting.
Both the Lakers (57-25) and Suns (54-28) had better regular-season records than the Celtics (50-32), which will give either West rival the home-court edge. The Celtics are 5-3 ATS in their eight road games of this year’s playoffs, with the ’over’ also 5-3.
Boston will host the middle three games of the NBA Finals, which use the 2-3-2 format unlike the rest of the playoffs. The nine postseason games at TD Garden have seen the Celtics cash at 7-2 ATS, with the ‘under’ 6-3.
Boston was 0-2 ATS when dropping both of its two regular season games SU against Phoenix, with the ‘under’ also 0-2. The “men in green” fared better against the Lakers, going 1-1 SU and 1-0-1 ATS in two meetings, with the ‘under’ 2-0.
A five-day rest has not occurred for the Celtics since a Feb. 16 trip to Sacramento, which took place after All-Star weekend. Boston failed to cover ATS as a 5 ½-point favorite in a 95-92 victory over the Kings. The combined 187 points plunged ‘under’ the matchup’s 198 ½-point ‘total.’
Sports books presently list the Celtics as a plus 155 choice to win the NBA title. Los Angeles is minus 185, while Phoenix is plus 1100.
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