Fri, May 18, 8:54am by Staff Writer
After two home games in Boston and Houston, the Eastern and Western Conference finals teams will travel to Cleveland and Oakland respectively for game three of their best-of-seven series.
In the East, Boston holds a commanding 2-nil lead against Cleveland after double-digit wins at the TD Garden.
The Celtics were outsiders to win this series, but are now favourites to take out the Eastern Conference at $1.40 at Sportsbet.
Boston has done their work at home during the playoffs, winning only one road game in Philadelphia during both of their previous playoff series.
The Celtics are $3.35 underdogs to win game three, with the Cavs in must-win mode and $1.35 chances to peg back a game in this series.
LeBron James was poor in game one by his lofty standards, but scored an impressive 42-point triple double in game two.
A second-half scoring onslaught by the Celtics, headlined by a 36-22 third quarter broke the game open and Boston controlled the contest from there forward.
If the Cavaliers are to have success in game three, they need a monumental lift from their bench, with Rodney Hood, Jeff Green and Kyle Korver struggling so far this series.
For Boston, the recipe to success has been to close out on LeBron James and force him away from the paint. They struggled to do this in the first quarter of game two, where LeBron was torching them from outside the arch, hitting three triples, as well as driving to the rim multiple times. James scored 21 points in the first quarter, but found his shots harder to come by as the match wore on.
The Cavs are 6.5-point favourites for this match, and many are expecting them to come out firing in game three.
The concerning thing for Cleveland is that LeBron carried them through their series against Indiana, before a blitz of the Raptors, in which role players such as Kevin Love and Tristan Thompson played their part.
Much of the Cavs’ success hinges upon these role players, but we can’t trust them with a 6.5-point start.
The Cavs need to squeeze over the line in this match to keep the series alive, and we think they will.
Best bet- Cleveland Cavaliers Big Win Little Win 1-10 at $2.61
The Western Conference battle is more one-sided according to the odds, with Golden State a $1.36 chance to win the West.
Houston came out lethargic in game one, shooting poorly and executing even worse on the offensive end.
They upped their game in game two and earned a commanding 127-105 win against the out-of-sorts Warriors.
The one consistent feature of this series so far has been the scoring prowess of James Harden and Kevin Durant.
Durant will need some offensive help in game three, with Curry looking hampered by injury and Klay Thompson shooting poorly in game two.
Chris Paul also looked to be carrying an injury, but Eric Gordon stepped forward and scored an equal game-high 27 points off the bench.
The major question ahead of this match is whether or not Houston will be able to or allowed to play their high-octane style which served them so well in game two.
The Rockets were tied at one-all with the Jazz ahead of a tough two game stretch in Salt Lake City. They managed to trounce the Jazz in game three with a rapid-fire start.
If Houston get momentum early in game three, they have the potential to blowout the Warriors again.
Both teams have won the opening two games by double digits, but there is bound to be a close match between them sooner rather than later.
Losing game three wouldn’t be catastrophic for the Rockets, but for the Warriors, a loss would mean surrendering home court advantage.
We are backing the Rockets to keep it close and cover the seven-point handicap as they will be full of confidence, and Steph Curry is not playing at his best during this post-season.
Best bet- Houston to cover 7-point handicap at $1.95
NBA Conference Finals Odds – Sportsbet
Boston $3.35 v Cleveland $1.35
Houston $3.55 v Golden State $1.32
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