Game 4 Miami Heat @ Boston Celtics Odds and Predictions – 2012 NBA Playoff Free Picks: For the third-seeded Boston Celtics, Sunday’s Game 4 against the second-seeded Miami Heat could decide their season and the legacy of the “Big 3” era. Down 2-1 in their Eastern Conference finals series, a loss Sunday would send the Celtics back to South Beach on the brink of elimination. A win, on the other hand, would even the series and put the pressure squarely on the heavily-favored Heat. There is no doubt which team needs a win more, but even on their home court, the Celtics remain a one-point underdog in Game 4.
Of course, Boston has plenty of reasons to be optimistic entering Sunday’s matchup. The Celtics thoroughly dominated the Heat in Game 3, and the 101-91 final wasn’t at all indicative of how one sided the game was. While Miami relied mainly on LeBron James for its offense, three Boston starters topped 20 points. The Heat had no answer for the balanced attack, and while a late run made the score respectable, Boston took care of business in every aspect of the game.
It is becoming painfully obvious that Miami has no answer for Rajon Rondo. Even though the Heat weathered his 44-point outburst in Game 2, Rondo has been a magician with the basketball, creating his own offense and getting easy scoring opportunities for his teammates. He has blown by defenders when the Heat has tried to pressure him, and he has knocked down mid-range jumpers when the defense has backed off. The advantage isn’t going away, and Rondo is going to give the Celtics a fighting chance in every game of this series.
Miami’s other issue has been the sporadic play of Dwyane Wade. He scored just 18 points in Game 3, and even more concerning, he didn’t attempt a single free throw. When he is at his best, he is attacking the rim and shooting a ton of free throws. The fact that he didn’t get to the foul line at all in the last game is cause for concern for the Heat. Earlier in the playoffs, Wade responded to a bad game against the Indiana Pacers by taking over the rest of the series. He may have to have a similar bounce-back effort if the Heat is going to win Sunday. After all, James can’t do it alone, and although Chris Bosh is practicing, he isn’t ready to play just yet.
Boston found a winning formula in Game 3. Rondo controlled the action from the point guard spot, and Kevin Garnett dominated the weak Miami frontcourt. Paul Pierce mixed in a few timely shots, and the Heat looked every bit the team that struggled at times to score in the half court during the regular season. It may be premature to say that the Celtics have stolen the momentum, but they have at least planted the seed of doubt in the minds of James and Wade.
Prior to the series, I picked Boston to upset Miami in seven games. I still believe the mental toughness of Pierce and Garnett will outlast the superior athleticism of the Heat. Whether it is injuries or something else, Wade just doesn’t look like himself, and James has shown time and time again that he can’t close out big games. Boston is essentially playing for its season Sunday night, and the battled-tested bunch will send this series back to Miami tied 2-2.
Prediction: Boston Celtics (+1) Cover the Spread
Current Odds: Favorite – Miami -1.5 Total – OVER/UNDER 180
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