NBA Eastern Conference Finals 2012 Betting Preview
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NBA Eastern Conference Finals 2012 have arrived as The Miami Heat and the Boston Celtics prepare to face off. Today on the blog, Cassini gives his betting preview for what should be an intriguing series.
After two protracted series, the Eastern Conference is finally down to two teams. The Miami Heat overcome the loss of Chris Bosh, and a 1-2 deficit, to win their series with the Indiana Pacers 4-2, while the Boston Celtic were taken to seven games by the eighth seeded Philadelphia ‘76ers. The Eastern Conference Finals begin play on Monday night in Miami.
How They Got There
Miami won 46 matches in a lock-out reduced 66 game regular season for the second best record in the East, while the Celtics won 39, the fifth best.
The two teams met four times in the regular season, with the Celtics winning three times. The first time was on December 27th, in Miami, the second game of the season for both teams. With the Heat leading by as many as 20 points in the third quarter, the Celtics closed to within 3 with 1:22 left, but the Heat held on. Top scorers were Ray Allen with 28 for the Celtics, and LeBron James with 26 for the Heat. Both teams hit the three point Field Goal at over 60%. The result was Heat 115 Celtics 107.
After that early season meeting, the two teams had to wait a little over three months until April, when they faced each other no less than three times. The second meeting in Boston saw the home team win in a low scoring contest that finished Celtics 91 Heat 72. Top point scorers were Paul Pierce for the Celtics with 23,and LeBron James with 23 for the Heat.
Nine days later, the teams met again back in Miami, but this time the visitors prevailed, winning with an exact reverse of the score in the first meeting – Heat 107 Celtics 115. LeBron James led the way for Miami with 23 points, a total matched by the Celtic’s Paul Pierce.
The fourth and final meeting of the regular season can be ignored as a useful guide to form. Back in Boston, in a meaningless end of season game, the Heat were missing there big three of LeBron James, Dwayne Wade and Chris Bosh while the Celtics were without Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen and Kevin Garnett.
For the record, the Celtics won a low scoring game 78 to 66, with the top point scorers being Dexter Pittman with 12 for the Heat and Sasha Pavlovic with 16 for the Celtics. Neither team was on form from three point range, with both shooting under 36%.
With the margins of victory being 8, 9, 8 and 12, this series promises to be closely fought. Low scoring games in Boston and high scoring games in Miami was how the regular season played out, in part because the three point shooting in Boston was poor by both teams.
The Celtics needed six games to eliminate the Atlanta Hawks in the first round, losing two games on the road. Game 1 was the biggest loss, by 9 points, with the game 5 loss being by a single point. The four wins included one blow-out of 22 points, with the rest being by single digits, by 7, 6 (after overtime) and 3.
In the second round, they never trailed the series, winning games 1, 3, 5 and 7 against the Philadelphia ‘76ers by 1, 16, 16 and 10 respectively. Their three losses were by 1, 9 and 7 points.
Waiting for the Celtics in the Conference Final are Miami who disposed of the New York Knicks in the first round by 4-1, and the Indiana Pacers in the second round 4-2. Just one game was dropped against New York, by just 2 points, with very comfortable winning margins of 33, 17, 10 and 12.
The Indiana Pacers series was a lot tougher for Miami, who fell behind 1-2 after losses in games two and three by 3 points and 19 points respectively. Wins by 9, 8, 32 and 12 points finally took care of the pacers, and it should be noted that for the two losses, Miami were missing Chris Bosh, who missed the entire series after game one. The crucial game four saw LeBron James hit 40 points, supported by Dwayne Wade with 30, with a similar outcome in game five, this time the numbers being 30 and 28 respectively. In the final game six, Wade led the way with 41 supported by LeBron James with 28.
Both teams have thus come from series deficits to get this far, and after tough second round matches, it’s Miami who have the edge in my opinion. The Heat eliminated the Celtics in last season’s play-offs in five games, and the same result this season would not be a surprise.
Chris Bosh looks likely to miss several more games with a lower abdominal strain, he could be out for the season, and coach Erik Spoelstra says “it's my responsibility right now to prepare this team without him.” If James and Wade can continue their form from the last three games through the first two matches in Miami, against a Celtics side who are one of the NBA's oldest teams, and have been pushed all the way by Philadelphia, the series could be all but over with a split in Boston.
Boring, But Important
Since 2002, both the Heat and the Celtics have played in three Conference Finals, though they have never met at this stage. Both franchises have won their two most recent appearances (Celtics in 2008 and 2010, Heat in 2006 and 2011).
The Bottom Line
The Heat, with home court advantage, are big favourites to win the East at 1.2 ( PaddyPower), with the Celtics a best priced 5.75 ( bet365). The opening price for Miami was 1.29 when the Celtics won their series on Saturday.
Series prices are not yet available, but for Game 1, Miami are 1.26 ( Paddy Power).
You can follow Cassini on Twitter @calciocassini
And visit Cassini's blog : GreenAllOver.blogspot
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