It’s winner-take-all on Saturday night in Game 7 of the NBA Eastern Conference Finals. The victors will challenge Oklahoma City for the title. The losers will be heading to the beach to drown their sorrows.
For Boston, defeat would likely end more than just their season. The ageing Big Three of Kevin Garnett, Ray Allen and Paul Pierce won a championship in unison in 2008 but as they head into the twilight years of their careers, a break-up seems inevitable if they come up short.
Ready to take one big swing in Game 6 and clinch the East, the Celtics instead were sucker-punched by LeBron James. He managed an astonishing 45 points and 15 rebounds in a 98-79 win that saved Miami from elimination and now gives them a shot at returning to a second consecutive Finals.
The Heat have home advantage, and this stacks the odds massively in their favour if the history books are to be believed. And after such a gruelling series, you have to wonder how much Boston’s vets have left to give.
The Celtics are a massive 4.90 underdogs to win in regulation with the Heat down at 1.23. Miami will start as favourites on the handicap by 7.5 points at 1.91. But Thursday’s game demonstrated that the long-time title favourites have found it hard to close out unless James comes up big. Don’t count out Boston yet.
Elsewhere, keep tabs on some of the pre-Olympic international friendlies going on around Europe. There’s a four-team women’s tournament this weekend in Karlovy. A punt on Turkey to hold off the Czech Republic at 2.90 looks decent value.
Bet of the Day: Go over 178.0 total points at 1.91 in Boston-Miami.