I’m the biggest Kemba Walker and Brad Stevens fan there is, but I can see the writing on the wall with game seven quickly approaching tonight…
This isn’t going to be like when Michael Jordan finally got over the Bad Boys or when LeBron finally beat the Celtics, unfortunately this is going to be more similar to when LeBron and the decrepit Cavaliers bounced the Celtics 3 years ago.
Sadly, this team isn’t ready for the big lights and neither is their coach. Nick Nurse has coached circles around Stevens deploying a weird Kyle Lowry zone in game 6 and dialing an absolutely brilliant S.L.O.B. play to OG Anunoby for the buzzer beater in game 4.
As soon as that shot dropped, all of the momentum in the series swung back to the Raptors and the once confident Celtics, began to second guess themselves. There’s zero question that the Celtics are the more talented team, but in a game 7 do-or-die scenario, would you rather have the slightly more talented team or the defending champs?
I really do want the Celtics to break through tonight, but until they prove to me that they can do it, I’m going to ride with the defending champs as a 2.5 point underdog.
It’s also important to note that in this entire series, only one game has gone over (game 6, which was 2 overtimes), all the rest have hit the under. The under is actually my favorite bet and the statistics back it up — 61% of the past 20 Game 7’s in the NBA have gone under (according to ESPN). Sure, no one likes rooting for an under, especially when it’s a game 7, but it’s an absolute no brainer.
As I look over the betting odds for tonight’s game, I think there is some serious potential to make some good money if you parlay the Raptors Moneyline (-136) with the under 203.5. There is zero chance this game goes over with the added pressure and tightness both teams (especially the Celtics) will be feeling tonight. I see this game being a drag-em-out and knock-em-down 90-88 type game that only has about 10-15 points scored by each team in the fourth quarter.
But back to why I think the Celtics are going to lose tonight:
They have played absolutely incredible defense this entire series (Raptors shooting only 48% from the field), but the Raptors have still found a way to force a game seven despite Boston’s defensive effort. That’s because Kyle Lowry has balls of steel.
Lowry reminds me of Harden, where I look at his body build and I’m not entirely sure how he is so good. He looks like he’s out of shape and slow, but he’s crafty and just an absolute rough rider who I’d trust with my life. Look for him to channel his inner Isiah Thomas (Detroit Pistons one) tonight and cement himself as one of the best point guards of the 2010’s. I don’t care whether Marcus Smart or Jaylen Brown is covering him, Lowry is going to get his tonight.
But that won’t be enough.
If the Raptors want to escape tonight with a victory, they either need Fred VanVleet (one of my favorite college basketball players of all time) to go absolutely nuclear from three point land or they need Pascal Siakam to finally show up in this series. “Siakam is now averaging just 15.7 points per game and shooting only 37.9 per cent from the field, a steep drop in production from the 23.6 points per game and 45.9 per cent shooting he was putting up pre-Disney World.” (Sportsnet) Siakam is better than that and with all the attention most likely getting paid to Lowry tonight, they need him to step up.
I know a lot people are thinking that Nurse’s handling of the Raptors starters minutes is worrisome (he played Lowry 52 minutes in Game Six), but I don’t view it that way. It’s playoff basketball (!), these guys are prepared to play that much, they have done it their entire life since they started playing AAU and they will be able to maintain it tonight off of adrenaline, alone. So that shouldn’t scare you off of the Raptors, if anything, it should invigorate you because you know they are going to live and die by Lowry tonight. Which I absolutely love and would have loved to have seen the Bucks copy Nurse’s strategy with Giannis.
As for Celtics, I see a world where either a Kemba or Jayson Tatum pull through for Boston, but I just need to see it first before I can put money on them. Kemba is the definition of clutch (see UConn “Kardiac Kemba” for reference) and I would love nothing more than for him to bury a step back buzzer beater tonight, but I sadly don’t see it happening. I hope the Celtics can win tonight because they are a much more fun team to watch than the Raptors and I a potential Celtics vs. Lakers final would be incredible… but things never seem toward to work out that way.
Trust me, I don’t care who the Celtics have on their team or how talented they might be… Tonight is the night Lowry becomes immortal and the Celtics start to look at themselves in the mirror and wonder if as currently constructed, can they win the title? My answer is no.
Take the Raptors ML and the under, then take that money and bet on the Raptors to win the Eastern Conference… But don’t be mad if Kemba ruins your bet on something like this:
If you were going to tell me that Kemba would hit a game winner tonight, then I’d be the first one to jump up and celebrate when it went through the net… But most importantly, let’s just hope tonight’s game is a good one… I hate when great series (like this one) end in a lackluster game seven. We need this.