Enough talk already! The Lakers and Celtics finally tip their NBA Finals series Thursday night from LA's Staples Center with early betting action on the 'under.'
The Los Angeles Lakers are one series away from successfully defending their NBA Championship and adding a 16th league title to their accolades. Thursday’s Game 1 has Phil Jackson’s club hosting the Boston Celtics, who defeated the Lakers two years ago in the 2008 NBA Finals.
Los Angeles advanced to meet Boston after Saturday’s 111-103 win as 1 ½-point road dogs against the Phoenix Suns. The victory clinched the 31st Western Conference crown for the Lakers in six games.
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Kobe Bryant and Ron Artest combined for 62 Lakers points. The veterans united to hit 22-of-41 from the field and 7-of-15 from beyond the arc.
Forward Lamar Odom grabbed a team-high 12 rebounds for Los Angeles, while teammate Pau Gasol added nine boards. Odom notched double-digit rebounds in 5-of-6 games against Phoenix.
The combined 214 points dipped ‘under’ the ‘total’ of 217. Los Angeles led by as many as 18 points and out-rebounded Phoenix, 41-31.
Gasol and Company are 5-3 against the spread in their eight playoff home games. The ‘over’ is also 5-3.
The Lakers are an even 5-5 ATS in their 10 games played on three or more days of rest, with the ‘total’ also a split 5-5.
Boston moved ahead to face the Lakers with Friday’s 96-84 triumph as 3 ½-point home favorites against the Orlando Magic. Doc Rivers’ club logged its 21st Eastern Conference title through revenge on the Magic, who eliminated the Celtics from last year’s postseason.
Celtics forward Paul Pierce drained 4-of-5 from three-point land for a dozen of his team-high 31 points. Boston’s captain played nearly 45 minutes and added 13 rebounds for his second double-double in three games.
Rajon Rondo led in assists for Boston with six. The Kentucky alum averaged 14.3 PPG in his squad’s six games opposing the Magic.
The rivals cashed tickets for ‘under’ backers with the matchup’s 180 combined points falling below the ‘total’ of 187. Orlando outscored Boston, 40-26, in the paint, while Rondo’s crew out-hustled the Magic in fast-break points, 20-12.
Boston is 5-3 ATS in its eight postseason road games, with the ‘over’ also 5-3.
The Celtics are 4-7 ATS in their 11 games played after being idle for at least three days, with the ‘total’ an even 5-5-1.
The 2008 NBA Finals saw the Celtics cash at 6-0 ATS in their six-game series with the Lakers, while the ‘total’ split at 3-3.
Four regular season meetings have occurred in the past two seasons between the inter-conference rivals since their last championship clash. The Lakers are 2-1-1 ATS in that span, with the ‘under’ 3-1.
The finalists most recently met in a Feb. 18 duel where Los Angeles found itself without Bryant in its lineup. Boston cashed ATS as a 2 ½-point road dog in an 87-86 defeat, which plunged ‘under’ the 188 ½-point ‘total.’
Sports books opened the Lakers as six-point favorites for Thursday’s 9 p.m. (ET) tip, which will be televised nationally by ABC Sports. Early Celtics wagers pushed the number south a half-point to 5 ½ on most boards.
The ‘total’ was first set at 196, but quickly dropped as low as 191 ½ with initial action on the ‘under.’
Boston’s Rajon Rondo (10 APG) and Rasheed Wallace (6.5 PPG) are listed as “probable” and “questionable,” respectively, by DonBest.com due to back injuries.
Los Angeles starting center Andrew Bynum (7.7 RPG) is “probable” with a knee injury. The big man expects to play with some swelling, according to ESPN.com.
The squads will have two days off before Sunday’s Game 2, which will be back at Staples Center.
Los Angeles is presently a 185 favorite to win the best-of-seven series. The Celtics are a plus 165 choice.