NBA Point Spread

Lonely road for Celtics in New York
2013-04-23

Just a few winding turns up the road on Storrow Drive, the Bruins unveiled a moving tribute to the law enforcement officials who risked their lives to restore order to our neighborhoods.
Meanwhile, 225 miles away, across the state border and deep into sports enemy territory, the Boston Celtics embarked on their playoff run at Madison Square Garden without most of their grieving fan base in tow.
Although the Sons of Doc Rivers wore patches on their uniforms proclaiming "Boston Stands As One," the civic pride that has been wafting over our city felt as though it was a continent away.
The Knicks were respectful, offered the appropriate condolences, then completely manhandled the Celtics during a hideous fourth quarter in which Boston scored just eight points.
And turned the ball over eight times.
Maybe the Celtics were fatigued. Maybe they're just old, like every prognosticator outside the 617 area code has hypothesized. Maybe the Knicks should be credited with a defensive intensity that was both timely and effective. All of the above might be a decent choice.
In any case, Boston collapsed, in unison, in an 85-78 loss that should be filed under the distinct heading "opportunity lost."
That's the only conclusion you can draw when you blow a seven-point lead late in the third quarter and wind up with 20 turnovers.
"Completely unacceptable," said Avery Bradley, in the quiet of his locker room. "We're better than that."
When you force Carmelo Anthony into 13-of-29 shooting and J.R. Smith into a 7-for-19 outing, and play aggressively enough to earn 19 free throws, and then hit every single one of them, you have every right to expect to beat the Knicks.
But you can't when your bench doesn't contribute a single field goal and is outscored 33-4. You can't when you cough up the ball five times in seven possessions during a critical stretch in the fourth quarter.
"Some of them were forced," noted Paul Pierce, "and some of them were just bonehead plays."
It wasn't the feel-good story the Celtics had in mind when they quietly and privately remembered their fellow fallen citizens back home just before tipoff.
"It's been a crazy few days," acknowledged Jason (0-for-5) Terry, whose brutal slump continues in earnest. "(The marathon bombing) is always in the back of your mind, but it had no effect on how we played today."
Give the Knicks their due, both on and off the court. New York arranged for a pregame acknowledgement of Boston's tragedy and invited both Carmelo and Pierce to address the crowd. After Anthony offered his prayers on behalf of his city, Pierce began to speak, and a small smattering of boos interrupted his cadence.
Almost immediately that small kernel of negativity was squelched by the overwhelming number of New Yorkers who applauded Pierce when he announced, "Boston will rise and run again."
There were all sorts of promising early trends for the Celtics. Boston led 29-26 after one, and while that pace would not, on the surface, benefit a defensive-minded team like Boston, which likes to keep its opponent under 100 points, the Celtics had already dished out eight assists and displayed excellent ball movement and hints of transition offense.
By halftime, Jeff Green had scored 20 points (his previous playoff career high was 16) and Bradley had scored 15. Melo, after starting out 4-for-4, proceeded to miss 12 of his next 14 shots.
J.R. Smith had lapsed into one of his let-me-show-you-how-it's-done-all-by-myself stretches, and the Celtics were up seven late in the third quarter.
But Green's chance to establish himself as a front-line, playoff go-to guy faded to black in the second half. Knicks coach Mike Woodson velcroed Anthony to Green and instructed his team to put the clamps on Green's transition attempts.
"Keep him out of the paint," explained Smith. "That's the big thing. Make him shoot contested jumpers."
The formula for beating the Celtics is just that. Because they are indisputably the worst offensive rebounding team on the planet, if you limit them to perimeter shots, they are going to be one-and-done on those chances. And, if they don't go in, Boston is in trouble.
Not pursuing offensive rebounds is one thing. But not closing out on the defensive glass, which Boston failed to do in that critical fourth quarter, was one of the most damning developments of the game.
With the game hanging in the balance, Woodson called upon 40-year-old Jason Kidd and 35-year-old Kenyon Martin (why was it the Celtics didn't want him again?), who siphoned Tyson Chandler's minutes with his high-energy effort that included a key putback in the fourth quarter.
Boston's less-experienced bench simply could not match New York's veteran presence, savvy or toughness.
The game was lost on sequences like the one with 4:50 to play, when Green, standing at the 3-point line, tossed a casual pass across the top of the foul circle that was immediately deflected by Kidd, who dove after it, then fired it up the floor to Raymond Felton on the break.
At the time, it was a four-point game (78-74 Knicks). At the time, Green had coughed up the ball on the previous possession, too, when, driving to the hole, he looked around for help, indecisively continued ... and was called for a walk.
"I have to be more aggressive," Green conceded.
He's not alone. The Celtics need to get Kevin Garnett more than 12 shots. They need to see if Jordan Crawford (0 shots) can pump some life into the second unit. They need to take care of the basketball.
The Knicks were hardly thumping their chests in the wake of the win. As Carmelo admitted, "We haven't really done nothing."
That's not entirely true. Had the Celtics stolen Game 1 on the heels of a truly surreal and sickening week, it would have done two things: generated some serious momentum for a Boston team that is in the unfamiliar role of underdog, and more importantly, ratcheted up the heat on a Knicks team under tremendous pressure to advance beyond its longtime rivals.
That opportunity is lost. Game 2 presents a new chance to gain the split every road team covets.
There will be no flags waving or Jumbotron tributes blaring to spur Boston on in that game, either.
If the Celtics plan to prove they can Stand As One at Madison Square Garden, they're going to have to do it all by themselves.
http://espn.go.com




March Madness Bracket
2015-02-15

$100K MARCH MADNESS BRACKET CONTEST

The nfl football betting Online Bingo Play Slots Online in US NFL Betting Lines biggest March Madness contest just got bigger.This year Sportsbook.ag is splitting a guaranteed $100,000 in cash among our Top 5 March Madness Bracket contestants. Plus awarding a combined $5,000 in Free Bets to 1,000 other members.Play for a whopping $75,000 first-place prize when you buy your first entry for just $15. Additional entries costs little as $5 and buying multiple brackets gives you the chance to take home the entire $100K prize pot.

Here’s a breakdown of the prizes:
1st Place $75,000
2nd Place $12,500
3rd Place $7,500
4th Place $3,500
5th Place $1,500
6th to 1,005th $5 Free Bet


Visit Sportsbook.ag for an early buy-in and to make your picks


NBA: Celtics Favored to start Western Swing
2010-02-17

In the first game after the 2009 All-Star break, the Boston Celtics lost Kevin Garnett to a knee injury. A year later, they may still be feeling the effects. After an injury-plagued first half of the season and quiet All-Star game, Garnett and the sputtering Celtics still hope to reestablish themselves as title contenders during the season’s second half, which begins with Tuesday night’s visit to the Sacramento Kings. The road team is a hefty 5.5-point favorite at Sportsbook.com. Get more on this contest on the GAME MATCHUP page.

It was during a 90-85 loss at Utah last Feb. 19 that Garnett was initially injured, causing the 2004 MVP to miss all but four remaining games and the playoffs. Garnett missed nine contests from Dec. 30-Jan. 20 with another knee problem, and he’s been held without a double-double in 10 games since returning, averaging 12.4 points and 6.4 rebounds.

He started but played just 13 minutes in the All-Star game, totaling four points and three rebounds, and seemed miffed by questions about his health before Sunday’s game. “I’ll speak one time about my health. It’s great,” Garnett said.

The Celtics (32-18, 19-30-1 ATS) are 5-5 since his return and 9-13 since Christmas as their lead in the Atlantic Division has slipped to four games over Toronto. They’re already two losses shy of their total from last season and two over the total from their 2007-08 championship campaign. Since Dec. 27, Boston is burying backers with 6-15-1 ATS mark.

“Our expectations are to try to win a championship and be consistent, and that’s something we haven’t been able to do over the last month or so,” Paul Pierce said. “But we’re a veteran team, we stick together, and we’ll turn this thing around.”
Boston will start by trying to avoid a third straight defeat. After a 96-89 home loss to Orlando on Feb. 7, the Celtics went into the break with a 93-85 defeat at New Orleans on Wednesday, with Garnett totaling seven points and shooting 2 of 9 from the field. “Our starters struggled,” Boston coach Doc Rivers said. “Kevin struggled in the second half and Paul forced too much due to the struggling of the team.” This is the first of four games west of the Mississippi River and the C’s are 10-7 against Western Conference clubs with a repulsive 4-12-1 ATS record.

While Pierce won the 3-point shooting contest on Saturday night, he’d love to share some of his outside touch with teammate Ray Allen, who missed the loss at New Orleans due to back spasms after shooting 38.9 percent from the field and 26.8 percent from 3-point range in his previous 10 games. Allen has been mentioned in trade rumors ahead of Thursday’s deadline. If traded, he would have played his last home game with the Celtics, who also face the Los Angeles Lakers, Portland and Denver on this trip.

Sacramento (18-34, 25-25-2 ATS) is the weakest opponent on the trip after it lost 18 of 22 (7-14-1 ATS) going into the break to effectively end its playoff chances. But the young Kings won their last two games (both as road underdogs) and will be trying for their first three-game winning streak since they won four straight from Nov. 25-Dec. 2. Kevin Martin scored 26 points and Beno Udrih added 22 off the bench as Sacramento won 103-97 at Detroit on Wednesday, prompting coach Paul Westphal to lament the timing of All-Star weekend.

“We’re learning and getting good performances from different people,” Westphal said. “I hate to see the break coming right now.” The Kings are 19-34 ATS in home games after playing a game as an underdog.

The Kings have also been involved in some trade rumors, mostly involving Martin as rookie guard Tyreke Evans continues to emerge. Evans leads all rookies with 20.3 points per game. He’s never faced the Celtics, who’ve held Sacramento to an average of 77.5 points in four straight wins (3-1 ATS) since they acquired Garnett and Allen. Boston’s last visit to Arco Arena resulted in the biggest home loss in Kings history, a 108-63 defeat on Dec. 28, 2008.

Sportsbook.com opened with Boston as six-point favorites with total of 199.5, but they are 2-10 ATS off an upset loss as a favorite and 8-0 UNDER after leading their last two games by 10 or more points at the half. Sacramento returns to action 17-35 ATS in non-conference clashes, losing by more than nine points per game and is 16-7 OVER after they’ve covered the spread this season.

This contest is viewable in local markets starting at 10 Eastern and the Celtics are 17-9 on the road with .500 spread record. The StatFox Power Line shows Boston by 1, well shy of Sportsbook.com’s betting line.