The Conference Finals continue this weekend. The action gets underway at 8:30 p.m. ET. on Saturday night with the Boston Celtics hosting the Miami Heat for Game 3. In the Western Conference Finals, the Golden State Warriors face the Dallas Mavericks at 9 p.m. ET in Dallas on Sunday. Let’s survey the slate and pick the best bets for this weekend.
Celtics -6.5 (-110)
The Heat like to play games with the Injury Report. Well, two can play that game. Erik Spoelstra got a taste of his own medicine on Thursday night when he found out that all of the Celtics would be suiting up after all. That wasn’t the only taste of medicine that Spoelstra and the Heat received. Marcus Smart provided an extra taste of spice in Game 2. He took his act from the sidelines to the court and scored 24 points and fell one assist shy of a triple-double (+31 Plus/Minus). While Smart had an exceptional day on the stat sheet, the real story was Jayson Tatum. It’s always Jayson Tatum. The Celtics built a double-digit lead at the end of the first quarter, and the Heat were never able to bring the deficit into single digits. Tatum built that lead with 20 points in the first half (7-10 FG, 3-4 3Pt). The story is always the same: as goes Tatum, so goes the Celtics. He can be erratic and Boston tends to drop those games against quality opponents, but when Tatum is on they can beat anyone and beat anyone severely.
This series has shifted. The Celtics are home with a road win in their pocket. And not just a road win, but a blowout win in Miami. That’s the perception from the outside. Inside Boston’s locker room the series has not shifted — nothing has changed. They’re the better team, they’ve always been the better team. As pointed out by Julian Edlow (@julianedlow) on Friday’s edition of The Sweat, the Celtics have outscored the Heat in seven of the eight quarters in this series. Throw out the disastrous third quarter in Game 1 and there is a significant point margin between the Eastern Conference Finals opponents: 220-181. The Celtics have owned the NBA since January, and they own this series.
Mavericks -2 (-110)
There’s always a chance, especially with the Mavs. They upset the Jazz in the first round and did it again in the second round by knocking out the No. 1 seed. They definitely have a chance and at this point, everyone should expect them to once again find a way to pull off the upset, but no one does. This time it feels different. The Jazz had holes. The Suns were a great regular season team, but they were far from perfect. The Warriors are a different animal. Everything that they were expected to be, they are. They seem to get better with each playoff game.
Is it different? The Mavericks lost two games on the road against a team that has not lost at home in the playoffs. In the first game of the playoffs, the Mavericks lost at home, but that was without Luka Doncic and by only three points. They have won every home game since. Dallas has been rocking in the playoffs and that is huge for a team more characterized by heart than statistics. Sunday night is an opportunity for the Mavs to get off the mat. The Warriors are not gods and the Mavs are an intense team, and with their great defense and crowd support they can rattle their opponents.
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