Submitted by Jim Hurley on Friday, May 25, 2012 at 7:17 PM
The most dramatic game of the NBA playoffs so far this season tips off Saturday Night when the #8 seed Philadelphia 76ers travel to Boston to face the #4 seeded Celtics with survival on the line. The winner advances to face Miami in the Eastern Conference finals (starting Monday). The loser gets to watch the rest of the playoffs on TV with the rest of us.
The only other Game Sevens so far in the playoffs involved the two Los Angeles teams. Both the Lakers and the Clippers survived first round meetings with Denver and Memphis respectively, but then lost very quickly in the next round because they had so little left in the gas tank. That could certainly be a problem for tonight’s winner, because Miami will have had a couple of extra days off to get ready.
We’ll talk about that on Memorial Day when the Eastern Finals get started (and make sure you’re with us in the NOTEBOOK on Sunday for a look at the key matchups in Oklahoma City-San Antonio in the West). For now…it’s time to jump into a Saturday night showdown between storied rivals.
BOSTON vs. PHILADELPHIA
Game Seven Vegas Line: Boston by 5.5, total of 170.5
Series tied 3-3
Boston was also a favorite of -5.5 the last time these teams met on this court. So, the market hasn’t made any sort of adjustment as of press time. The Celtics did win that game by an impressive 101-85 score. But, Brandon Bass had the game of his life to create that big margin. He fell back to earth in Game Six on the road (as you’ll see in a moment). Does Boston HAVE to have somebody step up and play the game of their lives to cover this spread? JIM HURLEY has been combing historic boxscores involving similar teams to try and get a read on that. Remember, we’re not talking about the straight up win. Boston’s the better team, though they’ve had a penchant for playing nailbiters this postseason. Can Boston win BIG without somebody going off?
The total has dropped from prior norms, which is common for seventh games. Tempos generally slow down. Defense intensifies. And referees will swallow their whistles with the game on the line because they don’t want to be the ones to determine who advances.
Here’s what’s happened on the totals so far this year in seventh games:
Denver/LA Lakers stayed Under 196 in a 96-87 decision (183 stays Under by 13)
LA Clippers/Memphis stayed Under 176 in an 82-72 final (154 stays Under by 22)
So, even though the market was aware of Game Seven histories, those games stayed Under by double digits. The Clippers and Grizzlies could have played Over time and stayed Under! JIM HURLEY is aware that the market’s drop to 170.5 here was designed to discourage Under betting. He’ll make the right decision before posting selections for clients.
GAME SIX SUMMARY
PHILADELPHIA 82, BOSTON 75
Field Goal Pct: Boston 33%, Philadelphia 46%
Three-Pointers: Boston 3/14, Philadelphia 1/9
Free Throws: Boston 20/23, Philadelphia 17/28
Rebounds: Boston 48, Philadelphia 37
Turnovers: Boston 16, Philadelphia 12
Vegas Line: Philadelphia by 1, total of 175
Boston was just horrendous here, possibly saving peak intensity for Game Seven at home rather than taxing themselves too much in a Game Six when tired. They knew they’d have two days off to get ready. The stats sure suggest the team wasn’t even trying to hit on all cylinders. Shooting percentage was abysmal. Turnovers were high. And, internal defense was softer than you’d expect in a big playoff game. Philadelphia doesn’t have the horses to shoot over 50% inside the arc, but they were 31 of 61 on the evening. That 46% mark overall is the result of the poor 1 of 9 mark from long range for the Sixers.
We’ve had a tale of two Boston’s through much of this series. They played GREAT in Game Three on the road, and very well in Game Five at home even though Bass’s outburst was the driving force. And, they’ve had halves in other games where they looked like the dominant side…even a side that could give Miami a run for its money next week. But, the Celtics also go through long dry spells where they don’t even look like a playoff caliber team (similar to the first half of the regular season this year). They were fortunate to win Game One at home, couldn’t win Game Two at home, and couldn’t protect a big lead on the road in Game Four.
Which Boston are we going to see?!
The best of the Celtics can name the score here and win by double digits. They have playoff experience. They have veterans who aren’t afraid of the moment. They have a loud home crowd who knows its role when the season is on the line in the playoffs. Compare that to Philadelphia…a team that still lacks a true offensive leader (any number of guys can make a few shots, but nobody’s a certified LEADER)…a team that lacks big time experience…a team that looks ugly on offense even when they win! The best of Boston wins this easily.
The worst of Boston can easily get knocked off. It’s been a postseason of nailbiters with Atlanta and Philadelphia…and if you’re playing toss-ups with those guys, then you’re not anything special. Fired up Philly can definitely steal a win here. If the game is close in the last few minutes…it’s the younger group that’s going to have fresher legs. Teams like this often love an “us against the world” mentality.
JIM HURLEY will post his Saturday Night Special (either a very strong individual play, or a blockbuster parlay) several hours before tipoff so you have plenty of time to take care of business. There’s also plenty of baseball on tap today that you can use to pump up your profits. Among the matchups featured on Fox’s Baseball Night in America are: Philadelphia at St. Louis, Tampa Bay at Boston, and the LA Angels at Seattle. Be sure to check the home page of this website to see if an early gem popped out that will create a chance to win early then invest those winnings with a split session. (We’re looking at NY Yankees/Oakland and Washington/Atlanta as possible afternoon delights!)
If you have any questions, call the office at 1-800-323-4453. Be sure to ask about including race day at the Belmont when you check in. It’s easy to add the final jewel in the Triple Crown to any monthly or seasonal package. Saturday is a great time to get your ducks in a row for the rest of the summer at very affordable rates.
Back with you early Sunday to crunch the numbers in Oklahoma City-San Antonio with a full series preview. That means we’ll be talking about offensive and defensive efficiency, rebound rates, and the true keys to surviving at this stage of the postseason. We’ll do the same thing Monday with tonight’s winner visiting Miami. Then, we’ll alternate days of the week with each series as WALL-TO-WALL basketball determines your Eastern and Western Conference winners.
WHEN CHAMPIONSHIPS ARE ON THE LINE, YOU NEED WORLD CHAMPION HANDICAPPER JIM HURLEY!