The Insider’s Handicapping Guide to the NBA Playoffs- May 22
The quest for this season’s NBA World Championship continues and while the finals matchup in the Western Conference is set with the San Antonio Spurs taking-on the Oklahoma City Thunder, the battle in the Eastern Conference semifinals presses on.
The following is a closer look at each of the two remaining playoff series matchups in the East along with a few betting trends to help handicap the upcoming games.
Eastern Conference Semifinals
Boston Celtics vs. Philadelphia 76ers
This best-of-seven series shifts back to Philadelphia this Wednesday night for Game 6 with the Celtics holding a 3-2 lead. Every time that Boston carved-out an edge in this matchup, the gritty, over-achieving 76ers found a way to bounce back with a win of their own. After Monday night’s 101-85 victory in Game 5 as 5.5-point home favorites, the Celtics may have finally gained the edge that will send them back to the Eastern Conference Finals.
The most frustrating aspect about this veteran Boston team is the lack of consistency it has shown throughout this series. It is clearly the better team, but only seems to play with the proper intensity when its back is against the wall. Do not be surprised if Doug Collins’ Sixers, who play their heart out in every minute of every game, force a Game 7 with a win at home on Wednesday night.
Game 6 Betting Trends
The Celtics are 7-3-2 against the spread in their last 12 games as underdogs and 10-4-1 ATS in their last 15 games on the road. The total has gone ‘over’ in seven of their last 10 playoff games as underdogs.
The 76ers are 4-1 ATS in their last five games after giving-up 100 points or more in their previous outing, but just 3-7 ATS in their last 10 home games as favorites. The total has gone ‘over’ in 14 of their last 16 games following an ATS loss.
Boston is 2-3 ATS in this series and 1-5 ATS in its last six trips to Philadelphia. The home team is 7-3 ATS in the last 10 meetings. The total has gone ‘over’ in four of the five games in this series and in six of the last seven meetings overall.
Indiana Pacers vs. Miami Heat
Miami’s 101-93 victory in Sunday’s Game 4 as a two-point road favorite evened this series at two games apiece. This followed a humiliating 94-75 loss in Game 3 as a two-point favorite on the road which may have served as a wake-up call for the over-hyped but under-performing Heat. LeBron James played one of the best games in his storied career with 40 points, 18 rebounds, and nine assists and Dwyane Wade bounced back from a dismal performance in Game 3 with an additional 30 points, nine rebounds, and six assists.
You have to give a ton of credit to Indiana for keeping this series close as it has been able to exploit Miami’s weakness underneath in the absence of injured Heat forward Chris Bosh and play as a team with four different players consistently scoring in double figures. The key for the Pacers is to use this formula to get a crucial victory on the road on Tuesday night as 6.5-point underdogs. The total line for Game 5 is set at 180.5. The total went ‘over’ the 179-point line in Game 4, but stayed ‘under’ in the first three contests.
Game 5 Betting Trends
The Pacers are 5-2 ATS in their last seven road games against a team with a winning record at home and 4-1 ATS in their last five games as road underdogs. The total has stayed ‘under’ in six of their last eight playoff games as underdogs.
The Heat are now 16-6-1 ATS in their last 23 conference semifinal games and are 5-1 ATS in their last six games as favorites at home. The total has stayed ‘under’ in 24 of their last 31 home games as favorites.
Head-to-head, the underdog is 26-11-1 ATS in the last 38 meetings and the total has stayed ‘under’ in six of the last eight games in Miami.
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