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March Madness Bracket
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NBA: Los Angeles in command and favored
Have you noticed how calm the Lakers have been this postseason? Yes, they have lost four road games and been 2-2 in two different series, plus gave away a few leads th at caused spread losses for backers, but not once have Kobe Bryant and the rest of his teammates looked truly flustered and exasperated to the point where they appeared beatable in a series. Up 1-0 in the NBA Finals series with Boston, Los Angeles goes into Game 2 on Sunday night as a 6-point favorite according to Sportsbook.com.
Game 1 was perfect example of Los Angeles' confident demeanor, as they were methodical in beating Boston. The Lakers were up by five after the first quarter, led by nine and the half and salted the contest away with 34-23 third stanza, building insurmountable 84-64 lead.
Phil Jackson’s club is 9-2 ATS after a playoff win this spring and are under control. After the Lakers ended the series against Phoenix in Game 6, the talk in the desert was the Suns lack of defensive intensity, as the Lake Show has 91 points after three quarters. Who would have ever guessed the defensive-minded Celtics would have permitted 84 points with 12 minutes still left to play?
It was shocking how little resistance Boston put up. Early today if you Googled the term “non-factor”, pictures of Rajon Rondo, Ray Allen, Kendrick Perkins and Kevin Garnett all appeared. Paul Pierce was the only Celtics player showing any game close to what Celtics would expect, but that was mostly in the final quarter when the outcome was already determined, as they fell to 6-19 ATS versus up-tempo teams averaging 83 or more shots a game this year.
To borrow a little Dick Vitale speak, the Lakers were ‘windex-men” cleaning the glass, outrebounding Boston by 42-31. With Pau Gasol having eight offensive rebounds, you would have thought he had grown a foot.
When Doc Rivers was asked about the last time he remembered his team being so outclassed on the boards, he responded this way. “I don’t know if I recall one,” he said. “But I know if there was, we lost that game, too. I can guarantee you that.”
You don’t rebound; you don’t win. What’s true during the regular season holds even truer now.
“They killed us on the glass,” he said.
What can Boston do to plot an upset in Game 2? Of course they have to rebound better, which might entail sending more players to the glass on the defensive side and once the ball is secured, immediately find Rondo and let him fire up the jets to beat L.A. down the floor. Rondo has to show better judgment with the ball in his hands.
The Celtics staff has to find ways to rub Pierce off Ron Artest’s “krazy glue” defense. Garnett can’t be dominated by Gasol, he has to work harder for rebounds and make medium range jump shots to pull the big man from Spain away from the bucket.
The Lakers offense is especially fluid at the Staples Center, which suggests Perkins has to be more a factor on the offense end besides setting screens. Though his scoring skills are limited, Perkins has to defeat Andrew Bynum in the post and be fed the ball for dunks or layups. Rivers and his coaches usually make solid adjustments and are 9-1 ATS off a road loss by 10 points or more over the last two seasons.
Sportsbook.com has L.A. as a six-point fave with total of 190 and they are 8-3 ATS after breaking the century mark. With two days between contests the Lakers are 12-4 UNDER this season. The Celtics will have to be much more assertive and are 22-10 ATS away from home after consecutive games with 19 or less assists. The last five times Boston has allowed 100 or more points, the next contest goes UNDER the number.
This matchup has an earlier start time of 8:00 Eastern on ABC and this is an absolute must win for the team in green, as it appears very unlikely they would sweep three at home.
StatFox Power Line – Lakers by 2