Game 3 NBA Playoff Picks: Celtics look for first win against Heat

2011 NBA Eastern Conference Playoffs
Second Round – Game 3
Miami Heat at Boston Celtics, TD Garden
Saturday, May 7, 2011, 8:00 pm Eastern, TV: ABC
Opening Line: Celtics -3.5
Current Line: Celtics -3
Opening Total: 183
Current Total: 183
Money Line: Celtics -160 / Heat +140

Celtics Heat NBA Playoff Game 3 Preview
The Celtics face a virtual must-win situation against the Heat in Game 3 as 3-point favorites.

The Boston Celtics (60-28) had the Miami Heat’s number the first three times they met during the regular season.  But things have certainly changed since then as the Celtics (-3) look to avoid a fourth straight loss to the Heat (64-25) along with an 0-3 hole in their second-round Eastern Conference playoff series when Game 3 tips off on Saturday.

The defending Eastern Conference champions are suddenly aging quickly, much like their counterparts in the West.  It seems like a very long time ago since Boston took the two-time defending NBA champion Los Angeles Lakers to a seventh and deciding game last June.  Both teams have dug themselves into early holes that will be difficult to escape against opponents that can take advantage of their weaknesses, but at least the Celtics have yet to play a home game.

Boston is hoping to get a boost from the fans at TD Garden following a four-day layoff since losing Game 2 on Tuesday at Miami, 102-91.  The Heat used a strong fourth quarter to top the Celtics for the second game in a row as 5-point favorites, outscoring them 30-24 behind 12 of LeBron James’ game-high 35 points.

James also had seven rebounds and two assists, his lowest total since March 25.  That did not matter though, as Mike Bibby and Dwyane Wade each dished out three assists while Chris Bosh had a team-high four.  The trio of James, Wade and Bosh combined to make 23 of 32 free throws, scoring six more points from the charity stripe than the entire Boston team.

The Celtics will need to be more aggressive in Game 3 if they want to turn the tables on Miami and make this into a competitive series.  The Heat have attempted 28 more free throws and made 22 more through the first two games, and Boston power forward Kevin Garnett has yet to earn a trip there.

Garnett has been limited to a total of 14 rebounds so far after grabbing 10 or more in every game against New York in the first round.  The anticipated return of center Shaquille O’Neal from a calf injury that has limited him to just 5:29 of game action since February 1 might be just what he needs to finally get the best of Bosh inside.

Miami has won 13 of its last 15 games dating back to the regular season, going 10-5 against the spread.  The OVER is 4-1 in the Heat’s last five games, including the first two games of this series.  The Celtics are 3-6 ATS in their past nine overall despite going 5-4 straight-up but 14-8-1 vs. the line this season when playing with two days of rest or more.

Now that you have read this NBA betting preview featuring the Celtics & Heat, make sure to check out the NBA odds on this and all the games to compare the best lines at multiple sportsbooks.

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