The defending NBA champion Miami Heat will take on their biggest rival, the Boston Celtics, in a game that will not only kick off the season but will likely define it. Miami and Boston played in the Eastern Conference Finals last year in one of the more heated playoff series we’ve ever seen, ending in a Miami victory in Game 7 that sent them to the NBA Finals.
Both teams enter this game improved from last year. While Boston lost Ray Allen, they added Jason Terry (who in my opinion is better right now), Courtney Lee, Leandro Barbosa, Jared Sullinger and Fab Melo. Miami stole Allen from the Heat and also brought in sharpshooter Rashard Lewis. There is a legitimate animosity between these two teams, whenever they meet we see hard fouls and an abundance of trash talking.
This game will be no different. Kevin Garnett, Paul Pierce and Rajon Rondo will be silently furious that they have to watch LeBron James get his ring and raise a banner they think should be theirs. On the other side, LeBron and the Heat will surely want to rub it in against their hated rivals. The biggest storyline going into the game though is Ray Allen playing against his former team. The Celtics, by all accounts, hate their former teammate and want to prove him wrong for leaving them. If Allen ever gets close enough to Kevin Garnett for it to look plausible, expect a hard foul.
Betting Play: Miami Heat (-6) vs. Boston Celtics
These two teams have played 20 times over the past two years and have split the series 10-10. Adding to how close these two teams are, the average point differential in last year’s Eastern Conference Finals was only 4.8 points per game in Miami’s favor. From a gambling perspective, this isn’t the type of game that Miami usually wins. No team is better at blowing out weak opponents than the Heat, but generally when they play good teams the games are close. Miami is almost always favored, so close games don’t help people who bet on them. For that reason, I’m picking the Celtics here. Boston is more than capable of beating Miami, but even if they don’t I expect this to be a very close game. This game is too emotional for Boston for them to come out and not play well. They’ve proven that they can win in Miami (as they did in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals and several times in the regular season), and Boston is a legitimate contender in their own right. Miami might be better, but it’s close enough for me to comfortably take Boston getting six points.
The Pick: Boston Celtics +6 (Bookmaker.eu)
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