Insider’s Guide to Handicapping the NBA Conference Finals
Game 1 of both the Eastern and Western Conference Finals are in the books as the NBA’s version of the Final Four continue to work their way towards winning this year’s world title.
The following is brief recap of each series along with some current betting trends that should provide an inside tract to gaining an edge on handicapping the upcoming games.
Eastern Conference Finals- Boston Celtics vs. Miami Heat
Boston had its hands full against Philadelphia in the conference semifinals but was finally able to eliminate the gritty 76ers with an 85-75 victory in Saturday night’s Game 7 as a six-point home favorite. The added fatigue from the unexpected length of that series obviously took its toll in Game 1 of this series with a 93-79 loss to Miami as an eight-point road underdog on Monday night. The total stayed ‘under’ the 178.5-point line.
The Celtics were able to overcome a sluggish start to tie the game at 46 at the half. The third quarter proved to be the difference as the Heat shifted into a higher gear that Boston simply could not match. The result was a 14-point loss and a 0-1 hole in the series. The Celtics will quickly have to find their legs with Game 2 right around the corner on Wednesday night.
Much has been made about the stamina of an aging Boston team, but you have to give credit to a Heat team that was able to exploit its overall talent and athleticism to secure Game 1. In particular, you have to single-out the play of LeBron James, who tallied a game-high 32 points while going 13-for-22 from the field. He also controlled the boards with 13 rebounds, while helping to fill the void of an injured Chris Bosh. Dwyane Wade added 22 points and seven assists while Shane Battier posted a double-double with 10 points and 10 rebounds.
Western Conference Finals- Oklahoma City Thunder vs. San Antonio Spurs
Oklahoma City and San Antonio are clearly the top two teams in the West and given how closely they matchup with one another, it looks like this series is going to have to go the full seven games to determine which one is actually the best.
The Thunder came up short in Sunday night’s Game 1 in a 101-98 defeat, but they covered against the spread as 5.5-point road underdogs. The total stayed ‘under’ the 204 point line. They actually built a nine-point lead heading into the fourth quarter but were outscored 39-27 from that point on as they had no answer for San Antonio’s swarming defense. Kevin Durant ended the night with 27 points and Russell Westbrook chipped-in another 17 points for Oklahoma City, but a veteran Spurs bunch were able to get the best of the youthful Thunder this time around.
Of all the star power on the court, it was Manu Ginobili that shined the brightest on Sunday night. The San Antonio guard led the team with 26 points. He shot 60.9 percent from the floor and went 3-for-5 from three point range. Tim Duncan and Tony Parker combined for 34 points and 19 rebounds in the winning effort.
Boston vs. Miami
The Celtics are now just 1-6 ATS in their last seven games on one day’s rest, but 5-1 ATS in their last six games following a straight-up loss. The total has stayed ‘under’ in five of their last seven games on the road.
The Heat are 4-1 ATS in their last five games following a SU win and 7-1 ATS in their last eight home games. The total has now stayed ‘under’ in 12 of their last 15 conference finals games.
Wednesday night’s Game 2 has Boston as an 8.5-point road underdog with the total set at 178. The home team is currently 12-4 ATS in the last 16 meetings and the total has gone ‘over’ in five of the last six games in Miami.
Oklahoma City vs. San Antonio
The Thunder are 4-1 ATS in their last five games following an ATS win and 4-0-1 ATS in their last five games in the playoffs as underdogs. The total has stayed ‘under’ in five of their last seven games as road underdogs.
The Spurs are 13-2-1 in their last 16 games following an ATS loss and 22-5-1 ATS in their last 28 games as home favorites. The total has stayed ‘under’ in seven of their last 10 games overall.
Oklahoma City has been opened as a 4.5-point road underdog for Tuesday night’s Game 2 with the total line set at 201.5. Despite covering in Game 1, the Thunder are still only 3-7 ATS in the last 10 meetings overall and 5-11-1 ATS in their last 17 games in San Antonio. The total has gone ‘over’ in four of the last five meetings.
DJ is a freelance writer that concentrates on his true passion in life; the world of sports. He produces a number of articles each week for BangTheBook.com as well as a select group of other websites that specialize in providing the most up-to-date information for the sports gaming industry. His goal is to write insightful articles on a wide variety of sporting topics that can provide an edge to today's sophisticated online player.