Sunday Afternoon Tips
April 28, 2013
By Kevin Rogers
The Eastern Conference playoffs showcased the most exciting game so far with Saturday's epic triple-overtime victory by the Bulls over the Nets. However, the pair of series involving the top two seeds has been one-sided, as the Heat and Knicks both look to advance to the second round with wins on Sunday afternoon. We'll begin in Beantown with New York trying to shut the door on Boston.
Knicks (-1 ½, 181 ½) at Celtics - 1:00 PM EST - ABC
Two seasons ago, Boston swept New York out of the first round by hammering the Knicks in the final two games of the series. Fast forward to this April as the Knicks have turned the tables on their rivals by taking a 3-0 series advantage following Friday's wire-to-wire blowout of the Celtics.
New York destroyed Boston, 90-76 in Game 3 to easily cash as three-point underdogs. The Knicks have been particularly sharp on the defensive side by limiting the C's to less than 80 points in each of the first three games, resulting in three 'unders.' Doc Rivers' team struggled to score points in the second half of the first two losses in New York, but the Celtics started slow in Game 3 by mustering just 31 points before halftime. Four Celtics scored in double-figures, but that didn't mean much since the bench tallied only 10 points.
Carmelo Anthony led the Knicks once again with 26 points, as New York will look to clinch without its sixth man. J.R. Smith is out of Sunday's contest after getting hit with a one-game suspension for his elbow to the face of Boston's Jason Terry in the fourth quarter of Game 3. The Knicks have beaten the Celtics six consecutive times since a home loss to Boston in January. Mike Woodson's club owns a 4-1 ATS record the last five opportunities in the road favorite role, while posting a 10-10-1 ATS mark this season when laying points on the highway.
Boston has dropped successive home games just once this season, which came to New Orleans and Chicago in mid-January. The C's have put together a 4-2 ATS record as a home underdog, which includes outright wins over the Heat, Clippers, and Celtics. Under Rivers, the Celtics have never been swept in a playoff series, while the last time Boston was swept came back in 2004 in the opening round against Indiana.
Heat (-8 ½, 195 ½) at Bucks - 3:30 PM EST - ABC
Miami is trying to accomplish something on its bucket list it hasn't been able to do since the Big Three came together in 2011: pull off a playoff sweep. Amazingly, this is the ninth playoff series that the Heat has played with LeBron James, Dwyane Wade, and Chris Bosh, but every series has gone at least five games. However, the Heat may be down one of its stars in the potential series-clincher on Sunday.
Wade injured his already banged-up right knee in Thursday's Game 3 victory over the Bucks, as the former Marquette standout shot just 1-of-12 from the floor for four points. The Heat rallied from an early 10-point deficit to trail by two points at the half, while busting things open in the second half with a 56-41 outburst. Miami cashed as seven-point favorites, 104-91, improving to 11-3 ATS since having its 27-game winning streak snapped at Chicago on March 27. However, the Heat won't know until nearly tip-off if Wade is going to suit up or sit out Game 4.
The Bucks are on the doorstep of elimination, losing all three games in this series by at least 12 points. Monta Ellis has struggled all season when facing the Heat, as the shooting guard has scored seven points in each of the last two losses. Ellis' backcourt mate and prognosticating specialist Brandon Jennings has shot 8-of-30 from the floor in Games 2 and 3.
Milwaukee put together one of the worst home ATS records this season at 16-26, while posting a 3-8 ATS mark when receiving points at the BMO Harris Bradley Center. The Heat are rolling on the highway recently by cashing in seven of the last eight road games.
You can reach Kevin Rogers via e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org
Kevin Rogers can be followed on Twitter at virogers.
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