I cringe, flinch and vomit a little every time the announcers list off that Vince Carter is an All-Star, a superstar and a fan favorite, and now the Orlando Magic know why.
The basketball playoff betting public knows that you don’t bank on a guy like that coming through in the clutch.
Like it or not, the Orlando Magic are learning that the hard way.
Carter missed two clutch free-throws and was hammered by the big men of Boston every time he tried to crash through the lane. Nobody’s doubted his sheer talent or ability, but everyone who has bothered tracking Vince knows that he’s as soft as the Pillsbury Dough Boy. After going 5-for-15, ending the game with 16-points and crumbling at the free-throw line in the fourth quarter, Orlando’ starting to come to grips with the fact that they dished away their future for the wrong guy.
The problem right now is that Dwight Howard is the only savior the Magic have, and at 24-years old I don’t know if he has the right stuff to lead his squad out of a two-game hole. The proof is in the numbers.
Of all the superstars in the league that found their way on to the MVP ballot, Howard had the lowest 30-point games during the regular season. With only four-games over thirty, and a season high of 33-points, the Boston Celtics have found the glaring weakness of Orlando: allow Howard to score as much as he wants, but shut down the rest of the team and you can get a win.
It’s a time honored defensive strategy when playing a team that boasts a player of Howard’s caliber. Shut down the Cavs, let LeBron go ballistic and you have a chance. Same goes for Melo, Kobe and Manu. The problem for Howard is that he’s a center and superstars at that position put their teams in an unknown disaster area by being limited point producers.
Now that Boston knows that for sure after rousing underdog wins in the first two games, they turn the series back to TD Garden and their rabid fans. Plans to put Orlando on the ropes in Game 3 and Game 4 can easily come to fruition.
Orlando Magic (59-23) vs. Boston Celtics (50-32)
Saturday, May 22nd --- TD Garden --- 8:30pm EST
Line: Boston -3 (190.5)
Boston is 5-1 ATS when playing at home in the playoffs, and even though they’re 1-3 ATS in their last four games hosting the Orlando Magic, a solid game plan can go a long, long way when a team of veterans is on the same page.
Neither Atlanta had the talent under the rim to control Howard, and while stopping him won’t be the absolute focus of the Celtics, Howard has had trouble beating Garnett on the boards or handling the sheer grit of Kendrick Perkins.
I’ve also said that they lynchpin of Orlando is how they respond to their first playoff loss. The results have been unfortunate to say the least, but inexperience isn’t their only problem. As I said, Vince Carter is a useless second-banana. Rashard Lewis hasn’t even shown up for this series.
It’s also a serious boost to Boston that Rajon Rondo bounced back from a bad game. In blowout victories, such as Game 1 against Orlando, he tends to shrink in the wake of the Boston Three Party running roughshod. After letting Ray-Ray and Pierce take the load in Game 1, Rondo responded in Game 2 by scoring 25-points and dishing out eight helpers.
As you can tell, there are plenty of positive things to gloat about in Boston’s camp. Considering that they’ll play a weekend playoff game at home in Game 3, the basketball odds should certainly be in their corner. The oddsmakers aren’t going to be caught off guard if Stan Van Gundy and the Magic can find some way to fix their overwhelming issues, which is the only reason this line is being held so low.
I’m not buying that, and neither should you. This line isn’t just a great value, it’s a freaking steal. The Celtics will continue to bully the Orlando Magic, and make some solid returns for their NBA playoff betting investors. A win on Saturday will only make the stakes for Game 4 on Monday that much higher. Orlando stands on the brink of being swept after doing all the sweeping in these playoffs.
Furious NBA Playoff Betting Pick – Boston -3 (UNDER)