Game 1 at Boston
(ESPN, 5:30 pm PT)
Celtics -4½ vs Pistons (174)
The 174 posted total is the same as Game 7 of the Boston-Cleveland series, which easily cleared the number in a 97-92 victory. Boston has won all eight home games during the playoffs, but has failed to cover the spread in its last five. To some degree, the pressure is off Boston after being pushed to the 7-game limit by both Atlanta and the Cavaliers. The Celtics won the Cleveland series with Ray Allen being virtually invisible and Paul Pierce producing a career playoff high 41 points.
Detroit comes in fully rested after eliminating Orlando in five games. The Pistons won despite losing point guard Chauncey Billups to injury midway in the Magic series. Billups is good to go for Game 1. Like Boston, the Pistons have been known for lackluster efforts in the playoffs. It was especially evident in the opening round at Philadelphia, where Detroit lost Game 4 by 20. Still, these have been the two best teams in the East all year and both figured to be in this NBA semifinal series. Scoring will be at a premium, but the 174 gives value to the over, just as in Boston’s previous game. For Game 1, betting the total seems to be the safe route. OVER.