The Daily Sweat: Boston Celtics look to punch their ticket to the NBA Finals
On Thursday night, the Golden State Warriors punched their ticket to the NBA Finals with a 120-110 win over the Dallas Mavericks in Game 5 of the Western Conference Final. The Warriors covered the 6.5-point spread in the process, and now they wait and see who their opponent will be from the Eastern Conference. The Boston Celtics hope that the Warriors find out their opponent on Friday night.
Boston has a chance to clinch a Finals berth of their own on their home court in Game 6 against the Miami Heat. The Celtics are 8.5-point favorites in their quest to move on to the final round of the playoffs and win the East for the first time since 2010.
Boston has won back-to-back games to take a 3-2 series lead against the East’s No. 1 seed. The most eye-popping number from those two games has been the fact that the Heat have scored 162 points combined over the two contests. Oddsmakers are projecting another low scoring affair on Friday night, with the total set at just 201.5-points, a number we rarely see in this day and age.
Blowouts have been common in this series, as just one game has been decided by less than 10 points. The average margin of victory for the winning team has been 15 points. From that perspective, you shouldn’t fear laying the 8.5-points with Boston if you think they get the job done on Friday night. With that being said, it’s a big number to lay against the No. 1 seed in the conference playing for the right to continue their season.
However, it’s also worth questioning whether this version of the Heat can be compared to the team that finished with the best record in the conference and took care of Atlanta and Philadelphia in the first two rounds of the playoffs. Max Strus, Kyle Lowry, Gabe Vincent and P.J. Tucker are all listed as questionable for this game, but they’ve played in every game of this series and are expected to play on Friday. Tyler Herro, the NBA's 6th man of the year, is also questionable, but unlike the first four players, his status is more uncertain coming off of missing Game 5. Jimmy Butler will play, but he’s also noticeably not 100%. Butler is just 10-for-40 from the field and has just 27 points combined over the last three games.
Combine the injury concerns with the league’s best defensive team, and the result has been ugly for Miami. The Heat are scoring just 98.2 points per game on average in this series, and just 81 points on average in the last two games. The Heat are +135 underdogs to score over 99.5-points on Friday night.
The Celtics are big favorites on Friday night, and for good reason. If they win, it’ll clinch an NBA Finals matchup between Boston and Golden State. Currently, the Warriors are -155 to win the NBA Title. Boston is +140, while the Heat are 25-to-1. If Boston wins on Friday, we can take the Heat off that list.
Just one NHL playoff game
Maybe you want to spend your Friday night watching a sport whose playoffs haven’t been a collection of blowout games. If so, luckily for you, there’s an NHL playoff game on.
The NHL playoffs have been fantastic so far, and that continued on Thursday night when the Carolina Hurricanes continued their home dominance to take a 3-2 series lead over the New York Rangers. Unfortunately for hockey fans, the Battle of Alberta is over as Connor McDavid scored in overtime to advance his Edmonton Oilers to the Western Conference Finals.
There’s a chance the Oilers can find out their conference final opponent on Friday night, as the Colorado Avalanche look to eliminate the St. Louis Blues in Game 6 of their series. The Avalanche are heavy -175 favorites to get the job done on the road.
The Avalanche were even bigger favorites to eliminate St. Louis in Game 5, but the Blues thwarted that attempt in what was one of the better games you’ll see. Colorado took a 3-0 lead in the game, but the Blues stormed back to tie it with under five minutes left. It looked like Colorado was in the clear when Nathan MacKinnon scored with under three minutes left to complete his hat trick. However, the Blues had other plans, as they tied the game in the final minute before Tyler Bozak won it in overtime to force a Game 6 back at home for St. Louis.
If St. Louis can force a Game 7, you’ll begin to hear a lot of talk about the Avalanche. They’ve been the Stanley Cup favorites from preseason to now, wire-to-wire. Colorado is currently +135 to win it all. However, the Avalanche have been ousted in the second round in three straight seasons. Will they finally be able to get over the hump on Friday night?
What else is on?
You can’t think of Memorial Day Weekend without thinking about baseball. There’s a 14-game slate on deck for Friday, but unfortunately no afternoon action for those looking for a distraction during their final work day before the long weekend. There’s some good games on tap, but the most intriguing one might be the Jays-Angels matchup. Toronto is a -120 favorite on the road with Alek Manoah on the bump.
The French Open continues on early in the day with third round action. Currently, Novak Djokovic is a +175 favorite to win the tournament on the men’s side, and Iga Swiatek is a prohibitive -250 favorite on the women’s side.
In golf, Scottie Schefler is a +450 favorite to win the Charles Schwab challenge. He’s tied for the lead with seven others. after shooting four-under on the first day of the event.
The soccer world is preparing for Saturday’s highly-anticipated Champions League final between Real Madrid and Liverpool. Liverpool is +105 to win the game in regular time, and -160 to lift the trophy.
What’s the best bet?
I’ll be going to the ice with my favorite bet of the night. After the first two games of the Colorado-St. Louis series went under the total, the last three have gone over. Unsurprisingly, that coincides with the time Jordan Binnington was injured and Ville Husso replaced him between the pipes for the Blues.
Husso was the better goalie in the regular season, but Binnington was sensational in these playoffs before getting injured. He posted a 1.72 goals against average while stopping 94.9% of the shots he faced. In this series, Husso has given up at least four goals in every game and stopped just over 86% of the shots he’s faced.
The Avalanche are loaded with talent and can put a crooked number up against anyone, but the St. Louis Blues actually scored more goals than the Avalanche did during the regular season. Colorado goaltender Darcy Kuemper hasn’t been overly impressive in this series, allowing 15 goals in 5 games and stopping just 89% of the shots he’s faced. With both goalies not at the top of their game, hopefully the goals keep coming in this series, so we’ll take Game 6 to go over 6.5 goals.