Playoff drama intensifies for both the Bruins and Celtics this weekend. Each is in action Friday night, then certain to play again Sunday.
In the NHL, the Bruins earned a 2-2 series tie Wednesday with a 6-4 victory over the Maples Leafs in Toronto. That swung the see-saw series back toward Boston being the betting favorite in what is now a “best-of-three” sprint to advance.
Because Boston was in a protective shell with a lead much of the night, the Leafs won “flow of play” stats in one-sided fashion. Toronto attempted more shots (42-31), and accumulated more “high danger scoring chances” (14-7 according to the Natural Stat Trick website). The Bruins know they’ll have to stand up to intense pressure from the Leafs until the final horn sounds in the final game.
Friday’s fifth frame is in Boston, where the Bruins will likely close as a favorite in the -145 to -150 range on the money line. Sunday’s sixth will be back in Toronto, with the Leafs again likely to be around -120. Game seven, if needed will be Tuesday April 23 in Boston.
The Celtics will make their first road trip of the 2019 postseason, bringing a 2-0 series lead with them to Indiana. You know the Pacers’ home crowd will be fired up for their first chance to berate Boston in person. Will the Celtics be ready for that “sixth man?”
They’ve sure been ready for the first five in the areas of defense and rebounding. Wednesday night, the Pacers entered the fourth quarter with a 79-68 lead, only to be humbled 31-12 in the final stanza by the resurgent Celtics. This after losing the third quarter 26-8 in the series opener (part of a 46-17 Boston run last Sunday).
Indiana’s lack of scoring options will likely prevent it from rallying to steal the series. The Pacers could only reach 91 points Wednesday in a game where they made 13 three-pointers!
And, you longtime Celtics’ fans know the importance of rebounding in the NBA postseason. Boston has won that category by counts of 55-42 and 48-36 so far.
Fans of analyzing Over/Unders should be aware that higher scoring Game Two still stayed Under the market total by 16 points, after the series opener stayed Under by 52.
Boston has a chance to sweep the series by winning Friday (likely as a small underdog) and Sunday. Game Five if necessary will be back in Boston Wednesday April 25.
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