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Can Boston make history?

Against the odds, the Eastern Conference component of the NBA Finals still hasn’t been set as the Celtics look to make history in Game 7.

Denver Resting

All of the talk after Game 1 ended up around the Los Angeles Lakers and how close they were to clicking. Instead, the Denver Nuggets kicked on to win three more on the bounce to make their first-ever NBA Finals. Not only have they made it, but the Nuggets also earned the best part of a week to rest, recover and plan while the Boston Celtics and Miami Heat battle it out across seven games to earn the right to play the Western Conference champions.

Nikola Jokic averaged 27.8 points, 14.5 rebounds and 11.8 assists per game throughout the series. With three triple-doubles, he passed Wilt Chamberlain for the most triple-doubles in an NBA post-season. He’s simply incredible and continues to embarrass those that convinced themselves that he isn’t the Most Valuable Player in the league.

Meanwhile, Jamal Murry went close to pinching the Western Conference Finals MVP award with 32.5 points, 6.3 rebounds and 5.3 assists per game.

The supporting cast stepped up on both sides of the ball which LeBron James mentioned after Game 3. Aaron Gordon played his part in defence, Kentavious Caldwell-Pope haunted his former team with timely threes while Bruce Brown popped up on both sides of the ball. Denver’s stars outperformed those in purple and gold. While Austin Reaves played well and the rest of the Lakers rotation had their moments, they couldn’t put it together often enough to challenge the Nuggets.

With over a week without a game, the Nuggets are at $1.72 to win the NBA championship.

Quickly On The Lakers…

While the Lakers failed to win a game, they lost the series by a combined 24 points – the fourth-smallest point difference in NBA history. However, they came up short in the moments that mattered. Anthony Davis struggled to score at times. LeBron James played out a horror 4th quarter at one stage. Overall, they looked like a team that spent over half of the season persisting with a player that didn’t fit and left it too late to make the changes. The challenge now is keeping the group together and building on these foundations in 2023-24.

LeBron James will be there, too.

Boston To Make History?

Regardless of your NBA podcast rotation, there is a good chance that your hosts spoke as though the series was over when the Miami Heat led the Boston Celtics 3-0.

“Teams are 149-0 in the playoffs when leading 3-0,” they would have said.

Some even started a soft preview of a Heat v Nuggets NBA Finals.

However, somebody will be the one in 149-1 at some stage. Given the talent of this Celtics team, how they have played over the last 18 months, and the fact they are up against an injury-affected Heat team that came into the playoffs as the 8th seed, if there was ever a somewhat likely chance of that 3-0 streak ending, it’s now.

Jimmy Butler appeared to have shot the Heat into the Finals from the free-throw line in Game 6 but Derrick White pulled off a play that will feature in highlights packages until the end of time.

Boston managed to extend the series and are now heavy $1.30 and -7.5 favourites to get the job done in Game 7.

So much of Boston’s success comes down to how they defend the three-point line, and how they shoot from behind it themselves. They gave up too many threes early in the series. Miami put up 92 threes and knocked them down at a 47.8% clip across the first three games. Meanwhile, Boston made only 29.2% of their 106 attempts. Narrowed down to open looks, the Celtics generated 37 more catch-and-shoot threes but hit only 34.9% to the Heat’s 46.6%

We’re going to get a good idea of Boston’s focus beyond the three-point line early on in Game 7 of the NBA’s Eastern Conference Finals. If they’re hitting them from the outset, Miami is in big trouble. Butler and the Heat need this game to be a grind, for the defence to dominate and for the Celtics to be forced into ugly shots. They won’t do that by giving up clean looks from deep.

Game 7: Three Point Markets

Jayson Tatum$1.14$1.57$2.50
Derrick White$1.22$1.82$3.30
Gabe Vincent$1.27$2.02$3.90
Marcus Smart$1.31$2.12$4.10
Jaylen Brown$1.37$2.25$4.60
Caleb Martin$1.40$2.30$4.80
Max Strus$1.41$2.50$5.50
Duncan Robinson$1.67$3.45$8.75



NBA Draft

With the NBA Finals approaching, the Draft isn’t too far away.

We covered the results of the lottery last week. Now, it’s into a few of the markets.

The Number 1 Overall Pick market is a non-starter. Victor Wembanyama will be joining the San Antonio Spurs regardless of what happens at combines, workouts and interviews. He’s one of the best prospects in NBA history and joins a franchise that has already been blessed with David Robinson and Tim Duncan. It’s the perfect fit and $1.01 to play out in the way everybody expects.

The Number 2 Overall Pick is where it starts to get interesting. It’s a two-horse race between Brandon Miller ($1.83) and Scoot Henderson ($1.91) and may yet inspire some trade movement towards the top of the draft. A lot comes down to fit. While many consider Henderson to be the better prospect, the Charlotte Hornets are believed to be more interested in Miller given his fit as a long small-forward beside LaMelo Ball.

For the Portland Trail Blazers, however, they’re not really in the market for another small guard.

They’re looking to build around Damian Lillard one more time, and adding the 6’2″ Henderson to the backcourt alongside Lillard and Anfernee Simons isn’t it. The pick is up for grabs, and if it moves, there is a very good chance the market does, too.

A little bit further down the draft, Amen Thomspon is the $1.70 favourite to go 4th while Cam Whitmore ($3.75) or Ausar Thompson ($4.10) is expected to wrap up the Top 5.



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