The likely return of Miami’s Chris Bosh is the big story heading into Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals between the Heat and Boston Celtics on Tuesday night.
Let’s first get the updated Monday odds between Oklahoma City and San Antonio. That series is tied 2-2 (just like Miami and Boston) and the Spurs are 5-point home chalk with a total of 202. There has been movement on San Antonio and the ‘under’ after opening at -4½ and 202½ respectively.
A couple of quick points for this series has the ‘under’ and ‘over’ alternating each game, most recently going ‘over’ in Saturday’s 109-103 Thunder win. The ‘over’ is 5-2 in the seven meetings between the teams this year.
Kevin Durant was incredible in the fourth quarter of Game 4 (18 points), but the team’s big men tandem of Serge Ibaka (26 points, 11-of-11 from the field) and Kendrick Perkins (15 points, 7-of-9 shooting) also played great. The Thunder seem to have made the necessary adjustments on offense and defense, and the Spurs could be in trouble if Ibaka and Perkins continue to play well.
Oklahoma City point guard Russell Westbrook had just seven points last game, but Don Best Sports analyst Pat Williams points out that’s not a bad thing as he’s not forcing his offense.
Spurs’ backers tonight will point to the fact they haven’t lost three games in a row all season. They had a 20-game winning streak before losing the last two in Oklahoma City.
Getting back to the Eastern Conference, Miami is listed as big 8-point home favorites for Tuesday with a total of 179. The Heat have failed to cover the last three games after being successful in the opener. The ‘over' is 3-0 in the last three after going ‘under’ in Game 1.
Boston was called old (and other things) after losing the first two games in South Beach, but rebounded to win the last two in Beantown.
Bosh (abdominal) is listed as probable on the Don Best injury report. He’s been out since Game 1 of the Pacers series last round and will be a big addition, especially defensively. Miami has had a real hard time putting a body on Kevin Garnett (20.5 PPG this series).
Bench play has been vital for the Celtics the last two games after being awful in the first two. Keyon Dooling, Marquis Daniels and Mickael Pietrus all provided quality minutes.
Rajon Rondo has continued to haunt Miami at 24.5 PPG and 10.5 APG this series. It’s going to be very interesting on Tuesday if the Heat don’t find a way to slow him down.
Miami needs to get more aggressive play from Dwyane Wade. He shot just five total free throws the last two games. He needs to take the ball to the basket hard as the Celtics defense is focusing on him, figuring LeBron James will get his points either way.
Don Best’s Williams thinks the health of Ray Allen could be the key for the rest of the series. The bone spurs in his ankles are reportedly feeling much better and his 16 points in Game 4 was an indication of that. He was also 4-of-11 from long range and just his threat from that distance opens up the floor for the rest of the team.