The NBA Finals Are Here - And We Break It All Down

THE NBA FINALS ARE HERE - AND WE BREAK IT ALL DOWN  WITH AN IN-DEPTH PREVIEW OF CELTICS VS LAKERS PLUS THERE'S POINTSPREAD CHARTS  AND MUCH, MUCH MORE!

By Jim Hurley:

The NBA Finals are in a "play it again, Sam" mode.

As you all know by now, no NBA Finals rivalry has been played more often than Celtics vs. Lakers and no NBA rivalry stokes the fires quite like this one.

In fact, the first time that Celtics-Lakers was played out in an NBA Finals was way, way back in the 1958-59 season when the Lakers called Minneapolis their home (see our head-to-head NBA Finals chart below) and the last time was two years ago.

Boston won the first head-to-head NBA Finals showdown between these teams more than a half-century ago (a four games-to-none series sweep) and they won the last hoedown back in 2008 (in six games) ... and there's been lots of pain, agony and suffering for Lakers fans in between too.

The Celtics march into this year's NBA Finals the prohibitive underdogs - as they were two years ago - but history says Boston's an electric 9-2 overall in these head-to-head championship meetings with LA and history also says that Boston is 17-3 all-time in NBA Finals play (an .850 winning rate) while the Lakers are just 15-15 in championship round play.

Maybe few folks remember that the Celtics entered this year's NBA Playoffs with the #4 seed in the Eastern Conference amidst all talk that this was gonna be "the year" for LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers - and so getting to this grand stage has been an ultra-pleasant surprise for Boston hoop fans while everyone (or just about everyone) was expecting the Lakers to be here all along.

Is this destiny ... were these teams meant to play yet again with all the marbles on the line?

It's hard to see it any other way, folks.

Okay, so in case you missed it, here's the game-by-game schedule for this year's NBA Finals:
     Game 1 - Thursday, June 3, Boston at Los Angeles (9 p.m., ET)
     Game 2 - Sunday, June 6, Boston at Los Angeles (8 p.m. ET)
     Game 3 - Tuesday, June 8, Los Angeles at Boston (9 p.m. ET)
     Game 4 - Thursday, June 10, Los Angeles at Boston (9 p.m. ET)
 x- Game 5 - Sunday, June 13, Los Angeles at Boston (8 p.m.)
 x- Game 6 - Tuesday, June 15, Boston at Los Angeles (9 p.m.)
 x- Game 7 - Thursday, June 17, Boston at Los Angeles (9 p.m. ET
x = if necessary
 
Note that we'll bring you previews of each/every game this NBA Finals series and so make sure you're with us right here at Jim Sez all throughout the proceedings:

 

NBA FINALS HISTORY: THE CELTICS-LAKERS SHOWDOWNS

     Here are the previous head-to-head meetings between the Celtics and the Lakers in NBA Finals lore:

SEASON

CHAMPION

OPPONENT

RESULT

1958-59

Boston

Minneapolis

4-0

1961-62

Boston

Los Angeles

4-3

1962-63

Boston

Los Angeles

4-2

1964-65

Boston

Los Angeles

4-1

1965-66

Boston

Los Angeles

4-3

1967-68

Boston

Los Angeles

4-2

1968-69

Boston

Los Angeles

4-3

1983-84

Boston

Los Angeles

4-3

1984-85

Los Angeles

Boston

4-2

1986-87

Los Angeles

Boston

4-2

2007-08

Boston

Los Angeles

4-2

                                                                       
Think the favored Lakers have a fear of this series going the distance?

As you can see by the chart above, the Celtics have won all four Game 7's played against LA in NBA Finals history (some might now call it ancient history since the last time it happened was 26 years ago) but copping that decisive game has helped Boston sport a 9-2 record in NBA Finals action when battling the Lakers head-to-head (that's an .818 winning rate).

The Las Vegas oddsmakers have installed the Lakers as the betting choice here:

Note that based on $100 per-play wagers, the Lakers are - 185 while the "take-back" on the Celtics is + 165.

And now hear this:

Jim Hurley and his Network of Handicappers and Bloggers get you all the game-day NBA Finals Side/Totals Winners and all the MLB winners each and every day when you either call the toll-free telephone # of 1-800-323-4453 or right here online. Check-in times are after 11 a.m. ET for the weekday afternoon MLB games; anytime after 1 p.m. ET for all the NBA and MLB weeknight games; and, of course, anytime after 10 a.m. ET on Saturdays and Sundays for all the weekend sports action. And don't forget The Belmont Stakes is Saturday and Jim will put you right in the winner's circle with all his wagering plays! Just check in on Friday either here online or at the toll-free telephone # and bring home the bucks in this Triple Crown race! Go ahead and continue to pile up your summertime Basketball and Baseball profits with America's #1 Handicapper and make sure you're all aboard for this year's NBA Finals.
           

NBA PLAYOFF ROUND-BY-ROUND POINTSPREAD NOTES
Here's how the 2010 NBA Playoffs look in terms of the Favorites vs. Underdogs as we head into this year's NBA Finals:

Round I Favorites

29-15-1

.659

Round II Favorites

  9-9-0

.500

Round III Favorites

 6-6-0

.500

Playoff Favorites

44-30-1

.595

Note that Favs and Dogs have split spread verdicts since the completion of first-round play - that's 15-15 ATS (against the spread) - but no matter what happens in these NBA Finals the chalk folks will have won the battle in this year's post-season.

In case you were wondering, the Celtics are 6-2 ATS as betting favorites in this year's playoffs and Boston's 6-3 vig-wise as underdogs. Meanwhile, the Lakers are just 5-4 spreadwise as betting favorites in this year's post-season and 4-3 ATS whenever taking points in the 2010 playoffs.

NBA PLAYOFF POINTSPREAD CHART

TEAM

WON

LOST

PUSH

PCT.

BOSTON

12

5

0

.706

Phoenix

11

5

0

.688

Orlando

9

5

0

.643

Chicago

3

2

0

.600

LA LAKERS

9

7

0

.563

Utah

5

5

0

.500

Oklahoma City

3

3

0

.500

Milwaukee

3

4

0

.429

Dallas

2

3

1

.400

Atlanta

4

7

0

.364

Cleveland

4

7

0

.364

San Antonio

3

6

1

.333

Denver

2

4

0

.333

Portland

2

4

0

.333

Charlotte

1

3

0

.250

Miami

1

4

0

.200

Now, here are the two 2009-10 regular-season matchups between the Celtics and the Lakers. Note the home team is in CAPS:

DATE

FAV

SPREAD

RESULT

1-31-10

Lakers

-1

Lakers 90-89

2-18-10

LAKERS

-2½

Celtics 87-86

   
Here's a couple of quickie re-caps of the two above-mentioned regular-season matchups between the Magic and the Lakers:

LAKERS 90, CELTICS 89 (Jan. 31st) -- Kobe Bryant's top-of-the-lane jumper won it with 7.3 seconds remaining as the Lakers overcame an 11-point fourth-quarter deficit to snatch away this road win. Bryant - playing with a sore ankle - connected on only 8-of-20 field-goal tries while finishing with 19 points but note LA center Andrew Bynum was a major stat-sheet stuffer with 19 points and 11 rebounds.

Rajon Rondo led the C's with 21 points and 12 assists but Boston still wound up losing for the sixth time in its last eight games as Ray Allen's sluggish 2-of-10 FG game helped to sink the home squad. Note that Allen missed a shot at the buzzer that would have won it for Boston.

CELTICS 87, LAKERS 86 (Feb. 18th) - No Bryant here (sprained right ankle) and so note the above-listed short pointspread for this clash at Staples Center. It actually was LA's first loss in five games since Bryant went out with the injury and Lakers guard Derek Fisher was unable to be the last-second hero that Bryant often is as the lefty was stopped cold by Allen in the game's waning moments.

Boston's starting five shot a combined 31-of-64 from the floor as Allen's 24-point game helped to spark the in-season revenge win but note that Rondo (6-of-17 FG shooting) and Kevin Garnett (6-of-16 FG shooting) were off their marks for much of this night.

Are the Lakers primed to come out and make a strong homecourt statement tonight and not only win, but cover that 5.5 point number? Or will the Celtics step up again on the road? The Jim Hurley Network is convinced we've got the answer and will get the money! Click here to be with us tonight!


THE NBA FINALS PREVIEW

BOSTON CELTICS at LOS ANGELES LAKERS - Game #1, Thursday at LA (9 p.m. ET, ABC-TV)

There is one school of thought that says the veteran Celtics - who have not as so much faced a single elimination game in this year's playoffs - have rounded into form and are peaking as we hit this year's NBA Finals.

There is yet another school of thought that claims the veteran Celtics won't have as much life in their legs as they might like here after getting through playoff series wins against Miami, Cleveland and Orlando.

What will it be?

On the flip side, here's the Lakers fresh off last Saturday's exhilarating 111-103 win at Phoenix that wrapped up the NBA's Western Conference Finals with just enough time to rest before swinging into action here and knowing that mega-star Bryant (averaging 29.4 points per game in this post-season) not only has that assassin's look on the court but he's been in "game face" mode since Sunday!

The Lakers have disposed of Oklahoma City, Utah and Phoenix in this year's post-season run and note that LA won both Game 1 and Game 2 at home in all of the above sets.

Suffice to say, that's what the Lakers need to do here Thursday/Sunday or else momentum and the home-court advantage will swing wildly in Boston's favor - keep in mind that Games 3, 4 and (if necessary) 5 all will be played at "The Garden" and that hasn't always been a friendly joint for the Lakers to visit.

THE KEYS - If you listen to all the media folks, you are likely to get a slew of differing opinions as to what's the most important aspect(s) of this series but let's spell it out with three quick-hitter items here:

First off, the Lakers must place defense first on their priority list and that means containing and/or shutting down Celtics' point guard Rondo (16.7 ppg and 10 assists per game this post-season) who has been Boston's best overall player in these playoffs. It's too much to ask Bryant to shadow Rondo and then go ahead and score his 30 ppg and so expect LA's strategy to include a rotation of defenders on Rondo and a touch of zone defense too;

Secondly, it's no secret that the recent offensive exploits of LA defensive whiz Ron Artest has really come in handy and yet there is no doubt the C's will leave Artest open from the perimeter here and dare him to shoot the three-ball. Something tells us Artest's makes - or misses - from beyond the arc are gonna decide at least one of the first two games in this series;

Finally, the Celtics claim that they're all banged up - reserve forwards Rasheed Wallace (back) and Glen "Big Baby" Davis (assorted body hurts) - might see limited minutes in Game 1 and so it's ultra-important that the "Holy Trinity" of Garnett (14.9 ppg), Allen (16.8 ppg) and Paul Pierce (team-leading 19.1 ppg in these playoffs) stay clear of foul woes and give the C's 40-plus minute showings here.

THE COACHES - The Lakers firmly believe that their 10-time champion head coach Phil Jackson (six titles with the Chicago Bulls and four with the Lakers) will come up with the proper strategy to handle Rondo here but one other key for the so-called Zen Master is that his club must not hang its head if/when it ever gets behind big in the games in Boston. You can be sure that Jackson will be reminding everyone in his locker room of that 131-92 final score in that series-clinching Game 6 win by the Celtics two years ago versus a distraught Lakers bunch.

Meanwhile, it's about time that Celtics head coach Doc Rivers gobbled up the applause that he so richly deserves - no question that Rivers now must rank in the top four of all active NBA head coaches (only Jackson, San Antonio's Gregg Popovich and Charlotte's Larry Brown would get our nod over the Celtics' sideline boss) and here Rivers must push his aging cast and get enough solid minutes from the energy types such as Davis and swingman Tony Allen.

We'll say this: Jackson's an "A+" in our book; Rivers is an "A" but a series win here gets 'em to that elite "A+" status.

SURPRISE, SURPRISE - Let's keep this one on the short-and-sweet side:

The Lakers probably can survive a game or two even if big man Pau Gasol (20 ppg and 10.9 rebounds per game these playoffs) is kept quiet at times but Lamar Odom (10.6 ppg and 9.5 rpg) must reach or exceed his scoring/rebounding averages here in this series or LA will be sunk.

On the flip side, the Celtics will favor a game in the 80s here and so that means the defense they get from the likes of Allen (not always known as a big-time defender) and Rondo will be critical in this series.

Want a real X-factor guy in these NBA Finals?

How about LA's lefty guard Fisher (11.1 ppg) who pretty much saved the Lakers in Game 5 of that aforementioned series against Phoenix with a gigantic first quarter that kept his team afloat - and it says here that if Fisher is left open for 5 or 6 triple tries per game in these NBA Finals, than it'll be curtains for the Celtics.

NBA FINALS: THE LAST 10 YEARS
Here's a look back at the last 10 NBA Finals:

YEAR

CHAMPION

#GAMES

OPPONENT

MVP

2009

LA Lakers

5

Orlando

Kobe Bryant

2008

Boston

6

LA Lakers

Paul Pierce

2007

San Antonio

4

Cleveland

Tony Parker

2006

Miami

6

Dallas

Dwyane Wade

2005

San Antonio

7

Detroit

Tim Duncan

2004

Detroit

5

LA Lakers

Chauncey Billups

2003

San Antonio

6

New Jersey

Tim Duncan

2002

LA Lakers

4

New Jersey

Shaquille O'Neal

2001

LA Lakers

5

Philadelphia

Shaquille O'Neal

2000

LA Lakers

6

Indiana

Shaquille O'Neal

NOTE: Get more NBA Finals Updates plus MLB Weekend Previews in the next edition of Jim Sez.

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