NBA Conference Finals Game 7 Betting Picks
Below odds courtesy of BetOnline.
Over/under 199.5 points: Cleveland Cavaliers at Boston Celtics (-2.5)
After six games, there’s been a common thread in the Eastern Conference Finals — home team wins and in blowout fashion. Will that trend continue on Sunday? Yes and no.
While no game this series has been decided by fewer than nine points, there’s a slim chance this one doesn’t go down to the wire. Simply put, there’s too much on the line to expect anything less. Though, with a 2.5 point spread, as long as the game doesn’t come down to the final shot, you’re good on either side.
However, Boston’s dominance at home can’t be overstated. Not only are they a perfect 10-0 inside the TD Garden this postseason, they’re steamrolling foes in such games. The Celtics average margin of victory at home is a staggering 11.5 points.
Cleveland’s chances took a major when Kevin Love was ruled out with concussion-like symptoms after Game 6. Without the Cavs second option, LeBron James will somehow, someway have to do even more on Sunday. Which at this point, is that even remotely possible? For a guy already averaging 33.9 points, 10 rebounds, and 7.7 assists a game throughout the playoffs, we’re inclined to say no.
Then again, James lives for do-or-die Game 7’s. He’s won five in a row, with his last defeat coming coincidentally to Boston in 2008. During his five-game win streak, James has averaged 34.4 points (on 49.1 percent shooting), 10.2 boards, and 5.6 dishes.
If you’re picking Cleveland on Sunday, then you’re essentially banking on a 50-point outburst from LeBron. While certainly plausible, we’re more on the realistic side. The Celtics, an actual well-rounded team with excellent coaching, will withstand LeBron’s heroics to finally dethrone him in the East.
Al Horford will feast with Love absent. If Brad Stevens is smart — which he clearly is — the Celtics feed it to him early and often. It’s a must after attempting just eight shots in Game 6. As Boston’s best player, Horford will rise to the occasion.
Pick: Boston (-2.5) and under 199.5 points
Over/under 209 points: Golden State Warriors (-5.5) at Houston Rockets
First things first, hold off on wagering on this one, at least until the Game 7 status of Andre Iguodala and Chris Paul is officially settled. Iguodala, a cornerstone of the famed Hampton Five lineup, hasn’t played since Game 3. Steve Kerr said he’s operating under the assumption Iggy will miss Monday’s matchup.
Paul’s chances appear slim, as well. On Saturday night, the league’s most-heralded reporter Adrian Wojnarowski of ESPN tweeted Paul is “less likely than likely” to play. Anything can happen between now and Monday, but we’re previewing this matchup as if neither will suit up.
With that in mind, Houston, you have a problem. Without Paul in Game 6, the Dubs dismantled the Rockets by 29 points. With a 64-35 scoring differential in the second half, either Golden State kicked it into high gear or Houston simply ran out of gas.
We’re of the belief of the latter. The Rockets isolation offense only works when James Harden and Paul are exchanging lead. With Harden carrying all the load, he turned it over an eye-popping nine times in Game 6. By comparison, The Beard had 20 combined turnovers in the series’ first five matchups. Trust us, that’s a direct cause-and-effect of Paul’s absence.
Harden will again draw all the attention on Monday. Unless the trio of Eric Gordon, Trevor Ariza, or Gerald Green — and we mean all three, not just one or two — catch fire, that’s not going to end well for the Rockets.
Here’s how we see Game 7 playing out: the first half is very much a back-and-forth battle as Houston feeds off the home crowd. Then the game breaks open in the third quarter and Golden State cruises to victory.
After intermission has been the Dubs sweet spot all season long. Here’s a mind-boggling stat to back that: over the course of the regular season, the Dubs outscored foes by 18.5 net points per 100 possessions in the third quarter — more than double of the next-best team. That success has followed in the playoffs with a +112 point differential for the reigning champions.
Brace yourselves for a Boston-Golden State NBA Finals because it’s happening, barring a return by Chris Paul and video-game performance from LeBron.
Pick: Golden State (-5.5) and under 209 points
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