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Lakers look to even NBA Finals

Jun 8, 2008 7:45 PM

by Mark Mayer | The Boston Celtics, despite beating Los Angeles in Game 1 on Thursday night, are a 1-point underdog at home for Game 2. Tipoff is 6:05 p.m. PT with Games 3, 4 and 5 set for the Staples Center in Los Angeles.

Boston forward Paul Pierce sustained a right knee sprain in the 98-88 victory that gave the Celtics a 1-0 in the best-of-7 series. Pierce practiced Saturday and will be in the lineup. The Celtics had an NBA high 66 wins during the regular season and have dropped just one game at home in the playoffs. The medical news isn’t quite as good for Kendrick Perkins, who is hobbled with a high ankle sprain. Perkins did not practice Saturday and his playing status will be a game time decision.

To win Game 2 the Lakers will need a better performance from Kobe Bryant and more physical play on the boards from Pau Gasol. Bryant led LA with 24 points, but hit less than 40 percent of his field goal tries. Kevin Garnett led Boston with 24 points and 13 rebounds in outplaying Gasol, as the Celts held a commanding edge on the boards.

Although losing the first game, Los Angeles remains the favorite to win the NBA championship. The Lakers are -161 at the Hilton to take the series, while Boston is at +141. The Celtics own an 8-2 all-time edge over the Lakers in past NBA Finals matchups. Should Games 6 and 7 be necessary, they would be played at Boston.

The projected total is 190, which is some 15 points higher than the average from most of Boston’s earlier playoff games. The Game 1 total was 186, maintaining a trend towards favorites and unders covering at home.