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Dallas Mavericks vs. Boston Celtics

The Dallas Mavericks go for a third straight win tonight when they play host to the Boston Celtics. The Mavericks are -11.5 point favorites over the Celtics with an over/under point total set at 203.
The Celtics have lost 11 of their last 14 and will be hoping to snap a four-game skid tonight after losing to the Pelicans by 121-120 in an overtime thriller last night. Jeff Green led the team with 39 points, Kris Humphries added 16 and Jared Sullinger had 14, but the Celtics really blew a shot to win the game when they failed to foul on the inbounds play as the Pelicans ran out the last 5.7 seconds of the game. With the loss, Boston drops to 22-45 on the season and 8-24 on the road where they’ve lost their last six.
Meanwhile, the Mavericks have won four of their last five and are coming off a big 109-86 win at Oklahoma City. Shawn Marion led five players in double figures with 19 points on eight of 12 shooting while Vince Carter provided 18 points in just 21 minutes off the bench. Dirk Nowitzki had a relatively quiet night of just 17 points but the game was won the defensive end where the Mavs held the Thunder to just 36 percent shooting for the game and just 38 points in the second half. With the win, Dallas improves to 40-27 overall which leaves them half a game ahead of Memphis who currently hold the eighth seed in the West.
In ATS trends, the Celtics are 5-1 ATS in their last six road games against a team with a winning home record and 6-2 ATS in their last eight games playing on no rest, while the Mavs are 4-1 ATS in their last five games overall and 5-2 ATS in their last seven home games.
Head to head, the Celtics are 0-6 ATS in the last six meetings overall and 6-2 ATS in the last eight meetings in Dallas.
I’m a bit reluctant to take the Celtics in the form they’ve been in lately, but teams always seem to have a bit of a letdown game after a big win, especially in their first game after a road trip so that’s where I’m leaning in this one.

Pick
Boston Celtics +11.5 Dallas Mavericks

New York Knicks vs. Boston Celtics

The New York Knicks return home looking to close out the series against the Boston Celtics in Game 5 from Madison Square Garden. The Knicks are -8 point favorites over the Celtics with an over/under point total set at 180.
Head to head, the Celtics are 19-9 ATS in the last 28 meetings in New York and 2-5 ATS in the last 7 meetings while the road team is 11-5 ATS in the last 16 meetings. The Knicks are 6-2 ATS in their last 8 home games vs. a team with a road winning % of less than .400, 47-22 ATS in their last 69 home games and 22-8 ATS in their last 30 games overall. The Celtics on the other hand are 4-9 ATS in their last 13 road games, 0-4 ATS in their last 4 games following a S.U. win and 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games playing on 2 days rest.
It’s pretty safe to say that If J.R. Smith wasn’t out for Game 4, this series would be over already. Smith was suspended one game for elbowing Jason Terry in the chin late in Game 3 which resulted in the Knicks being without their No. 2 scorer in their 97-90 overtime loss in Game 4 for on Sunday. Without Smith, New York struggled on the offensive end, shooting just 34% from the field, which included going 7-30 from beyond the arc. Even with their struggles, the Knicks managed to force overtime thanks to a big second half comeback led by Carmelo Anthony’s 36 points, but it wasn’t enough to get them the series sweep they were after.
This is indeed another elimination game for the Boston Celtics tonight, but it’s just as important to the Knicks, who don’t want to head back to Boston for a Game 6. Carmelo Anthony said as much “We want to end it. We came this far, did our job at home first two games, did our job on the road, got one on the road. We’ve got the opportunity to end it here on our home court.”
At the end of the day, the Celtics just can’t score enough points without Rajon Rondo as they have finished with 78 points or less in three of their four games in this series. Not only that, in each of their four games, they have played a half where they have scored under 30 points. New York has dominated this series from the get-go and I like them to finish things tonight.

Pick
New York Knicks -8 Boston Celtics

New York Knicks vs. Boston Celtics

Carmelo Anthony and the New York Knicks look to make it two straight against the Boston Celtics in Game 2 from Madison Square Garden on Tuesday. The Knicks are -6.5 point favorites over the Celtics with an over/under point total set at 185.
Head to head, the Celtics are 6-2 ATS in the last 8 meetings in New York while the road team is 4-1 ATS in the last 5 meetings. The Knicks are 5-2 ATS in their last 7 home games vs. a team with a road winning % of less than .400, 20-7 ATS in their last 27 games overall but just 1-7 ATS in their last 8 Conference Quarterfinals games. The Celtics on the other hand are 5-2-1 ATS in their last 8 games playing on 2 days rest, 5-2 ATS in their last 7 road games vs. a team with a home winning % of greater than .600 and 4-0 ATS in their last 4 games following a S.U. loss.
Thanks to 36 points from Carmelo Anthony, the New York Knicks pulled away late on Saturday to record an 85-78 victory over the Boston Celtics in their playoff opener. The league’s leading scorer had 10 of New York’s first 12 points of the game, however, he struggled from there on out before scoring eight pivotal fourth quarter points as the Knicks outscored the visitors 18-8 in the final term. Jeff Green led the way for Boston with 26 points while Paul Pierce added 21 for a Celtics team that committed 21 turnovers, which led to 20 points for the home team. Boston committed eight of those turnovers in the fourth quarter where they shot just 3-11 from the field.
I like the Celtics here for a couple of reasons. When you look back at Game 1, Boston actually led heading into the fourth quarter until they gave the ball away just about every possession. The Knicks were feisty on defense, but I don’t think we are going to see another 20 turnovers for the guys in Green tonight. While getting 26 points from Jeff Green was definitely a bonus, the bench trio of Jason Terry, Courtney Lee and Jordan Crawford combined for just four points, which obviously needs to change if the Celtics plan on taking this game.
I expect New York to play better than they did in Game 1, but I just think the Knicks bounce back and make a real game of this. New York probably wins, but this one is going down to the wire.

Pick
Boston Celtics +6.5 New York Knicks

Boston Celtics vs. Golden St. Warriors

The Boston Celtics return home to take on Stephen Curry and the Golden State Warriors on Friday night. The Celtics are -4 point favorites over the Warriors with an over/under point total set at 198.5.
Head to head, the Warriors are 18-5 ATS in the last 23 meetings and 9-2 ATS in the last 11 meetings in Boston, while the underdog is 18-5 ATS in the last 23 meetings. The Celtics are 6-1 ATS in their last 7 home games, 6-2 ATS in their last 8 home games following a road trip of 7 or more days and 10-4 ATS in their last 14 games overall. The Warriors on the other hand are 15-7 ATS in their last 22 vs. Eastern Conference, but just 1-5 ATS in their last 6 road games vs. a team with a home winning % of greater than .600 and 1-7 ATS in their last 8 road games.
Despite Stephen Curry’s heroic performance against New York on Wednesday, it wasn’t enough to get Golden State the victory as they continue to struggle away from home. Curry posted the highest single-game point total in the NBA this season, piling up 54 points to go along with seven assists and six rebounds, yet, the Warriors still fell 109-105 as they have now dropped seven of eight on the road, with the lone victory coming in Minnesota by the slimmest of margins.
The Boston Celtics return home from a five-game Western Conference road trip in which they went 2-3, with wins coming in Portland and Utah. Playing on the road has been a big issue for the Celtics all season long as they have won just 10 of a possible 28 games to date. However, it’s a different story when playing at home as Boston has won seven straight at TD Garden and 20 of 29 this season.
It’s hard to not be impressed by Stephen Curry’s performance the other night, but the fact remains that Golden State has been a really poor road team since they went 6-1 on their East Coast trip earlier in the season. While Boston is returning from a long road trip, they are 6-2 ATS in their last eight home games following a road trip of seven or more days and they have won seven straight at home. Give me Boston here.

Pick
Boston Celtics -4 Golden St. Warriors

Utah Jazz vs. Boston Celtics

The Boston Celtics look to continue their dominance over the Utah Jazz on Monday night from Salt Lake City. The Jazz are -6.5 point favorites over the Celtics with an over/under point total set at 191.5.
Head to head, the Celtics are 3-0-1 ATS in the last 4 meetings while the home team is 5-1-1 ATS in the last 7 meetings and the favorite is 5-0-1 ATS in the last 6 meetings. The Jazz are 6-1 ATS in their last 7 games following a SU loss of more than 10 points and 5-2 ATS in their last 7 vs. Eastern Conference, but just 1-4 ATS in their last 5 home games vs. a team with a road winning % of less than .400. The Celtics on the other hand are 9-4 ATS in their last 13 games overall, but just 4-10 ATS in their last 14 road games vs. a team with a winning home record and 6-14 ATS in their last 20 road games.
Either the Boston Celtics are starting to find life hard with Rajon Rondo or they just continue to lose away from home. After winning their first seven games since Rondo went down with an ACL injury, the Celtics have dropped four of six after falling in Portland last night 92-86. It has to be made mentioned that four of those losses came away from home, where Boston is just 8-19 on the season, which is the worst mark of all current playoff teams in the Eastern Conference.
Given their struggles on the road, tonight’s showdown with the Jazz might be a tough one considering Utah has once again continued their dominance at home, winning 21 of 27 this season and 12 of their last 14. The Jazz have looked particularly strong in their last two in Salt Lake City, defeating the Golden State Warriors and Oklahoma City Thunder by an average of 14.5 points.
I don’t think the Celtics struggle in the second of a back-to-back as much as they used too, but they are up against it tonight. Utah continues to be one of the hardest places to play in the entire league and not only will be Boston playing two games in two nights, this will be there fifth game in seven nights.

Pick
Utah Jazz -6.5 Boston Celtics

Miami Heat vs. Boston Celtics

The Boston Celtics look to close out the series against the Miami Heat in Game 6 tonight.  The Heat are -1.5 point favorites over the Celtics with an over/under point total set at 179.5.

Head to head, the Heat are 0-4 ATS in the last 4 meetings and 1-10 ATS in the last 11 meetings in Boston, while the home team is 14-6 ATS in the last 20 meetings. The Celtics are 4-0 ATS in their last 4 Conference Finals games and 15-5-2 ATS in their last 22 games as a home underdog of 0.5-4.5. The Heat on the other hand are 7-3 ATS in their last 10 playoff games as a favorite of 0.5-4.5, but just 3-7 ATS in their last 10 road games and 0-4 ATS in their last 4 Conference Finals games.

If I told you last week that the Thunder were going to hand the Spurs four straight losses to advance to the NBA finals and the Celtics were on the brink of doing the same to the Heat, you would not have believed me in the slightest. However, that could very well be a possibility if the Celtics can close the series out tonight. I’m torn on who I want to win because nothing would be better than seeing Miami get knocked out early again, however a Thunder v Heat series would be better to see. Whatever happens tonight, I don’t think anyone is getting past Kevin Durant and company.

Now this is a knock out game for Miami obviously, however I’m not putting too much stock into that because the last thing Boston wants to do is head back to Miami for a Game 7. While the Heat have the talent to still win this series, the fact of the matter is they are a bunch of front runners and when the going gets tough, they are no where to be seen. The Celtics have been the better team in this series and they are going to be playing in front of a very rowdy crowd tonight, so why can’t they close out the series?

Pick

Boston Celtics +1.5 Miami Heat

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Miami Heat vs. Boston Celtics

The series shifts back to Miami as the Heat look to take control against the Boston Celtics in Game 5.  The Heat are -8 point favorites over the Celtics with an over/under point total set at 180.

Head to head, the Celtics are 7-1 ATS in the last 8 meetings, while the home team is 4-1 ATS in the last 5 meetings. The Heat are 7-2 ATS in their last 9 home games, 10-4 ATS in their last 14 playoff games as a favorite of 5.0-10.5 and 16-7 ATS in their last 23 playoff games as a favorite. The Celtics on the other hand are 8-2-2 ATS in their last 12 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600 and 4-1 ATS in their last 5 Conference Finals games, but just 1-4 ATS in their last 5 playoff games as an underdog of 5.0-10.5.

I can understand how the Heat were eight point favorites in the first two games of this series, but I struggle to see them still an eight point favorite in tonight’s game. Apart from the third quarters of Games 1 and 2, Boston has been every bit as good as Maimi have been in this series. Everyone knows the Heat have the best two players on the court, however the Celtics have the next best five, which evens things right up.

If Chris Bosh decides to play tonight, the Heat obviously improve a little bit, however I don’t think we can expect to much from Bosh in his return game from injury in a Eastern Conference final. I could go on and on, but the simple fact is that I can see Boston hanging around, just like they have done all series.

Pick

Boston Celtics +8 Miami Heat

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Miami Heat vs. Boston Celtics

The Boston Celtics look to even the series up against the Miami Heat in Game 4 tonight.  The Heat are -1 point favorites over the Celtics with an over/under point total set at 182.

Head to head, the Heat are 1-6 ATS in the last 7 meetings and 1-9 ATS in the last 10 meetings in Boston, while the home team is 13-5 ATS in the last 18 meetings and the favorite is 9-4 ATS in the last 13 meetings. The Celtics are 7-3 ATS in their last 10 Conference Finals games and 7-2-2 ATS in their last 11 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600. The Heat on the other hand are 7-2 ATS in their last 9 playoff games as a favorite of 0.5-4.5 and 10-4 ATS in their last 14 Conference Finals games, while the 5-12 ATS in their last 17 road games vs. a team with a home winning % of greater than .600.

I should really just stick to this series because I can’t seem to pick a winner between the Spurs v Thunder, while I have hit every game in this series. Having said that, I’m quite torn on tonight’s game. While I have felt good about picking the first three games, this is easily the hardest game to pick. Even though no one would have expected the Celtics to dominate Game 3 like the way they did, we often see the home team come out winners in Game 3 when they are down 2-0.

While it seems like a cop out to say any team has a chance of winning this one, it’s pretty true. I could see scenario’s play out where both the Celtics and Heat come away with the victory. Having said that, it will be hard for Boston to come back from a 1-3 series deficit, so I’m going with the home team once again. Plus, Boston have more than showed they can keep up with Miami in this series.

Pick

Boston Celtics +1 Miami Heat

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Boston Celtics vs. Miami Heat

The Miami Heat will be looking to take a commanding three game lead in their series with the Celtics on Friday.  The Celtics are -1.5 point favorites over the Heat with an over/under point total set at 179.

The Boston Celtics gave the Heat a run for their money on Wednesday, but Boston just didn’t have the legs in the end to take out Miami. Boston held the lead for the first half, but Miami came out of the locker room red hot, taking the lead back from the Celtics. To their credit Boston didn’t give in easily, but in the end James and company were just too much for Boston. Leading the Celtics on the night was Rajon Rondo who was outstanding, finishing the night with 44 points and ten assists.

The Miami Heat defeated the Celtics in their last outing on Wednesday by the score of 115-111 in overtime. Leading the Miami Heat against Boston was LeBron James who had a monster night finishing with 34 points and ten rebounds. D-Wade also was solid for Miami as Wade finished the night with 23 points.

The Celtics have just two wins in their last six games, but Boston is 11-1 in their last 12 games at home. The Miami Heat are just 1-5 against the spread in their last six games against Boston.

The Boston Celtics have their backs to the wall here on Friday as this is a make or break game for Boston essentially. Miami is the better team, but the Celtics showed that they can run with the Heat, and with the Celtics being at home, I’ll back Boston here.

Pick

Boston Celtics -1.5 Miami Heat

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Miami Heat vs. Boston Celtics

The Boston Celtics have a tough task ahead of them as Boston is down one game to none against the Heat in the Eastern Conference finals.  The Heat are -7.5 point favorites over the Celtics with an over/under point total set at 177.5.

The Miami Heat continued their strong play lately as the Heat defeated the Boston Celtics in game one of their series on Monday. The Heat took a bit to get going in the playoffs this season, especially with the absence of Chris Bosh, but lately Miami is looking like the contenders everyone thought they were as the Heat are rolling through the competition. Leading Miami against Boston on Monday was LeBron James who once again had a monster night, putting up 32 points while grabbing 13 rebounds. Wade and Battier also got in on the action as they each finished with double digit points on the night, Wade with 22.

The Boston Celtics played about like I thought they would on Monday. I knew Boston would come in focused and ready to play the Heat, but Boston is a bit long in the tooth, and the Celtics were just coming off a long series with the Sixers and the Celtics just didn’t have their legs under them later on. Leading the Celtics against the Heat on Monday was Kevin Garnett who had a very solid game for Boston as Garnett finished with 23 points and ten rebounds on the night.

The Heat head into game two on Wednesday having won four out of their last five, however Miami is just 1-4 against the spread in their last five games against Boston. The Celtics are just 3-6 against the spread in their last nine games, and Boston is 2-5 against the spread in their last seven games in Miami.

I am thinking Wednesday’s game will look very similar to Monday night’s. Boston will be ready to go, but the Heat have the fresher legs and I think that will be the difference here.

Pick

Miami Heat -7.5 Boston Celtics

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Bobby C Sports Columnist