The Suns ensured we won't have two sweeps in the conference finals this postseason, winning 118-109 last night at home over the Lakers. Amare Stoudemire entered Game 3 of the Western Conference finals being criticized fro every aspect of his play, even his desire. He responded by 'attacking' the Lakers in last night's game, tying a career-high with 42 points while grabbing 11 rebounds (had just nine rebounds in the first two games, combined). Robin Lopez (just recently returned from a 52-day absence because of a back injury) had 20 points while guards Nash (17 points / 15 assists) and Richardson (19 points) held their own.
The home win extended the Suns' mark in Phoenix to 19-3 SU (17-4-1 ATS) since the All Star break and ended LA's playoff winning streak at eight. The Phoenix bench continued it woes in this series, making just 3-of-21 shots (15 points) but LA's reserves weren't much better, going 7-for-24 from the floor while scoring a modest 20 points. Do we have a series? We do if the Suns can win Game 4 on Tuesday where they have been installed as an early one-point choice. Note the total opened 224 (first three games have averaged 232.7 PPG) but was bet down to 221 1/2.
While we have to wait until Tuesday night to find out if we have a series in the West, that question has already been answered in the East. The Celtics' 94-71 win over the Magic in Game 3 at Boston gives them a 3-0 lead in the Eastern Conference finals. Unless you believe the Magic will become the first team in NBA playoff history to overcome an 0-3 deficit to win a best-of-seven series (the first 93 teams have tried and failed!), "the fat lady has sung." Boston has now won six straight games since its Game 3 loss to the Cavs, holding the Cavs and Magic to an average of just 85.2 PPG.
What I find very interesting is that the six-game winning streak is tied for the second-longest in this team's playoff history. Remember, we are talking Boston here. The Celtics are just one win away from making the franchise's 21st appearance in an NBA Finals (have won 17 of the 20 they appeared in!), yet the team has won more than six consecutive playoff games just ONCE! As for the Magic, they look as if they don't care if they win even a game. ESPN televises tonight's Game 4 at 8:30 ET with Boston having been bet up to a seven-point choice (total is 187).
What a fall from grace it's been for a team many were calling "the NBA's best team," after the Magic opened with back-to-back sweeps in the first two rounds on the 2010 playoffs (8-0 SU and 7-1 ATS). Orlando had won 14 straight (13-1 ATS) and 28 of it's previous 31 games (going back to Feb 28), entering the Eastern Conference finals. There's enough blame to go around but instead of pointing fingers, I'll just let the numbers due the 'talking.' After averaging 101.0 PPG through the first eight games of the 2010 postseason (on 48.8 percent shooting, including 38.4 on threes), the Magic have averaged 83.7 PPG (on 39.4 percent, including 28.6 on threes). Do the Magic have any pride? We'll find out tonight.
Home teams are 45-24 (.652) this postseason, going 41-28 (59.4 percent) ATS. Quite remarkably, there have been 33 overs, 33 unders and three pushes for those playing totals. For those following the Zig Zag theory, they finally got a win on the Suns last night but it was just their FOURTH win over their 18 opportunities. Since the start of the postseason, "Zig-Zaggers" are a pathetic 23-32, or minus-12.2 net games.