As many had expected the NBA Finals has been extremely contentious and will last either six or seven games.
The Los Angeles Lakers and Boston Celtics traded victories through the first four games of the series but head back to Los Angeles for Tuesday night’s Game 6 with Boston having two chances to win the NBA Title.
The Celtics ended the zig-zag streak by winning Sunday night’s game five. It was their second straight win and enabled them to overcome the two games to one deficit that existed after game three to take a three games to two lead.
The Lakers have opened Monday morning as 7 point favorites in Game 6 with the Over/Under at 188. Four of the first five games in the series have stayed UNDER the Total with the range of total points falling between 175 and 197. The closing Totals have ranged between 189 and 192½. Including their two regular season meetings, 6 of their 7 games have stayed UNDER.
Interestingly, at the handful of places offshore that have posted series prices, the Lakers are still favored by about 6 to 5 to win the final two games and hoist the Championship trophy.
The Celtics have had success because of their great depth, getting contributions from up and down the roster, starters and reserves alike. The Lakers have been frustrated by Boston’s physical play and have gotten little in the way of offensive contributions from Lamar Odom and Ron Artest.
Big guy Andrew Bynum has been playing through injury and is far from one hundred percent.
Unless the Lakers can remedy those negatives they shall not successfully defend the title they won nearly one calendar year ago.
Both teams have been able to score in spurts throughout this series as well as going through prolonged scoring droughts. The final margins have been in single digits in all but the opening game with the pointspread yet to matter.
But the line for Game 6 is the highest it’s been for any of the seven meetings this season and it shows the desperate situation in which the Lakers find themselves, needing a win to extend the series to a seventh and deciding game.
The Lakers should win Game 6 but a play on the money line will be expensive. Los Angeles is favored by from 3 to 1 to 7 to 2 to win straight up. The spread is high but the Lakers should maintain intensity throughout. With no margin for error that intensity should extend the full 48 minutes. Should Boston hang around early in the fourth quarter the Lakers are likely to feed off the crowd and get a covering win. Boston might relax a bit knowing they have a shot in Game 7 so the Lakers are the recommendation for play in Game 6.
But the recommendation is only slight as the points could come into play if Boston does not concede late.
Game 7 could be a different story and the pointspread would likely be closer to the five and half points by which the Lakers were favored in Games 1 and 2.
Both teams will leave it all on the court in a game 7 and the Celtics have shown they have more options at the offensive end of the court. Plus they’ve played the better defense.
Over the past few weeks the call here has been for the Lakers to win the series in six games and was predicated on Los Angeles returning home with a three games to two lead. But the Lakers really never threatened to win Game 5 in Boston despite closing to within five points in the closing minutes. Boston was clearly in control of that contest and it was a game that the Celtics needed more than the Lakers, with that being their last home contest.
Game 5’s loss was a bad one for the Lakers. It was not a toss up that could have gone either way.
As such serious consideration must be given to the Celtics in a Game 7, especially when it comes to the pointspread. They have been very well coached throughout this series and it can be argued that Boston’s Doc Rivers has made better decisions than Lakers coach Phil Jackson.
At a line of 6 points or more the play in Game 7 would be on Boston. Should the line drop below 5 the play would be on Los Angeles. At a line of 5 or 5½ there would be a slight preference for the hosts.
It’s been another entertaining NBA season and we’ll have a deserving champion as both the Lakers and Celtics are talented, well coached teams.
See y’all in the fall for the 2010-11 season.