Andrew Bynum's right knee is a major topic of conversation as his Lakers head into Game 5 of the NBA Finals against the Boston Celtics with the series tied two wins each.
Boston and LA are doing their best to bring back the zigzag theory. The Celtics and Lakers have alternated wins and losses (plus covers) heading into Game 5 of the NBA Finals on Sunday night.
Bookmaker.com has Boston as three-point ‘chalk’ with a total of 188-points. The Lakers are still the solid 195 seriesbetting favorites with home court advantage in this now best-of-three.
The Celtics (64-39 straight-up, 47-54-2 against the spread) were desperate for a win on Thursday, down 2-1. No team had ever rallied from a 3-1 deficit in the NBA Finals.
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The Celtics trailed 62-60 heading into the fourth quarter, but outscored L.A. 36-27 in the final stanza. The Boston bench tallied 21 points over the final 12 minutes, helping outscore the Lakers’ backups 36-18 for the game. Glen ‘Big Baby’ Davis had 18 total points.
Boston won 96-89 as four-point favorites and is now 14-2 SU and ATS in the playoffs when holding its opponent under 100 points. Los Angeles did buck that trend in Game 3, winning 91-84 as 2 ½-point ‘dogs.
The 185 combined points in Game 4 went ‘under’ the 190-point total. The ‘under’ is 2-0 in the last two games and 2-1-1 in the series. The ‘under’ is 4-1-1 in the six meetings between the teams this year.
The Lakers (71-31 SU, 44-55-3 ATS) have looked like the superior team overall. They did suffer a blow as Andrew Bynum played just 12 minutes in Game 4 with his injured knee.
Without the seven-footer in the lineup, Boston won the battle of the boards (41-34), points in the paint (54-34) and second-chance points (20-10). The better rebounding team has taken every game in this series.
Bynum does get a couple of days to rest his knee, but there’s no guarantee of improvement. Kobe Bryant (28.3 PPG) and Pau Gasol (20.5 PPG) have been the two best players in this series, for either team. Bryant is shooting just 40.9 percent from the floor, but is still dangerous every time he launches.
Boston has five players scoring in double-digits, with Paul Pierce (17 PPG) leading the way. He’s shooting just 41.7 percent and playing nothing like the 2008 Finals MVP.
Ray Allen scored 32 points in Game 2, but is averaging 8.7 PPG the other games (shooting 22 percent from the field). Kevin Garnett clearly isn’t capable of carrying Boston offensively every night and Rajon Rondo is more of a complimentary scorer.
Pierce and Allen both have to play great the next three games to have a chance. Boston can’t keep depending on its bench, although they’ve played great.
The ‘under’ is 6-1 in Boston’s last seven home games. The one game that went ‘over’ (against Orlando) was due to overtime. Boston’s defense is allowing 86.2 PPG in those seven games.
The extra day’s rest helps Boston more as the older team. The Celtics are 5-0 in their last five games on two days rest. That includes last Sunday’s 103-94 Game 2 win in Los Angeles as six-point ‘dogs.
The Lakers know a win puts Boston in a giant hole with the last two games in L.A. Derek Fisher stepped up in Game 3 as a hero alongside Bryant and Gasol. Another player will need to step up on Sunday if Bynum is limited again.
Coach Phil Jackson would like it be Lamar Odom. However, Khloe Kardashian’s husband is averaging just 7.5 PPG and looks like he wants no part of the hefty ‘Big Baby’ on the defensive end.
There are no other injury concerns besides Bynum. ABC will have the earlier 5 p.m. (PT) broadcast from TD Garden. Game 6 will be held Tuesday night in Los Angeles.