NBA Finals Game 3 betting preview: Celtics favored to take series lead over Warriors
After an electric fourth quarter powered the Celtics to a shocking Game 1 victory, the Warriors responded with a blowout win in Game 2 to even the series. Now they head to Boston, where the C's are slight home favorites to regain control of this matchup with another home game on the horizon.
Here's how we're betting Wednesday's Game 3:
Oh, how quickly things can change in the NBA Finals. Just two days ago, many were wondering how the Warriors could muster a response in Game 2. Twenty-four hours later, it felt like doomsday for the Celtics after a big loss of their own.
The reality lies somewhere in the middle: Boston is capable of beating any team on any given night - as long as it doesn't beat itself. And there's plenty of reason to believe the C's can avoid that fate in Game 3.
Boston committed 18 turnovers in Sunday's 107-88 loss, fueling the Warriors' offense in transition and allowing Stephen Curry to attack the Celtics' elite defense when it wasn't set. The result was predictable: Curry finished with a game-high 29 points, and Golden State scored 34 off turnovers - tied for the second-most in an NBA Finals game in the last 25 years.
Don't expect that to happen again. Boston lost all five postseason games in which it had at least 16 turnovers, but the team has a 12-3 record when it turned over the ball 15 or fewer times. It committed an average of eight fewer turnovers in contests immediately following those four previous turnover-plagued losses, boasting a 4-0 record with just 10.5 turnovers per game.
It really has been that simple for the Celtics, who've been impossible to beat twice in a row in these playoffs. They're a perfect 6-0 straight up and against the spread following a loss, and they're 13-1 straight up and 12-2 ATS following their last 14 losses dating back to the regular season. Much of that is thanks to cutting down on turnovers, but they've also adjusted to how the opposition's defense flummoxed them the game before.
Boston's shooters didn't fall apart - the team made 15 threes on 40.5% shooting - but the Celtics simply couldn't get anything going inside. I'd expect Ime Udoka to find creative ways to get his stars into the paint in Game 3 without forcing the issue on dribble-drives. You can also bet on a more aggressive game from Al Horford (2 points), which would force Draymond Green to divert attention down low instead of harassing Boston's stars along the perimeter.
Also, it's not as though the Warriors cracked the code on the Celtics' half-court defense - far from it. Despite leading all scorers, Curry still shot a measly 42.9% from the field, as did Jordan Poole (17 points). Those two were the only Golden State players to score more than 12 points, which reinforced concerns from Game 1 about this supporting cast's inability to back up Curry.
Of course, the Dubs could go supernova in Game 3 and win by 20 - that's always a possibility with this group. But if the Celtics get back into their rhythm at home, they could net a big win, too. We've seen time and time again how this group adjusts to an ugly loss, so expect the same Wednesday.
Pick: Celtics -3.5