NBA weekend best bets: Can Mavs, Heat bounce back from blowout losses?
We're 3-0 against the spread in the conference finals, cashing on Game 1 wins by the home teams and the Celtics' impressive response in Game 2. Will the Mavericks and Heat show similar resolve in their next contests?
Here are our best bets for Friday's and Saturday's action:
Mavericks @ Warriors (-6, 213.5)
May 20, 9 p.m. ET
It shouldn't have come as much of a surprise that the Warriors won Game 1 in commanding fashion given their historic dominance in such spots. But you shouldn't write off the Mavericks yet.
Just look at the Eastern Conference - after a blowout loss in Game 1, the Celtics came back with a vengeance to deliver Miami an early knockout blow in Game 2. They outscored the Heat by 25 points in the first half behind a scintillating showing from three.
That isn't to say Dallas is due a blowout win here, but it's fair to expect some positive regression - especially from deep. The Mavericks finished 11-of-48 (22.9%) from beyond the arc in Game 1 - their worst showing this postseason and seventh-worst all campaign. It's not as though they were all contested shots, either: 28 of those 48 threes were wide open, and Dallas converted on just 28.6% of those looks.
I don't expect that cold shooting to carry into Game 2, especially with the Mavericks' knack for bouncing back this season. Dallas is an incredible 24-9 ATS following a loss, including 4-1 this postseason - with those four wins coming by a combined 67 points. This team will be ready Friday.
Pick: Mavericks +6
Heat @ Celtics (-6.5, 207.5)
May 21, 8:30 p.m.
Now that's closer to what we expected entering this series. The Celtics finally looked "right" in Game 2 and dominated the Heat in virtually every statistic en route to a statement road win.
Boston led the NBA in offensive and defensive rating over the final three months of the regular season, and we saw that dominance on both ends Thursday. The C's shot 20-of-40 from deep and assisted on 28 of 43 made baskets. Meanwhile, their array of versatile and switchable defenders kept Miami's shooters in check and limited Bam Adebayo to just six points on six shot attempts.
I expect that form to continue with Marcus Smart and Al Horford firmly entrenched in the starting lineup. They've proven to be the keys that unlock Boston's immense defensive potential. I also wouldn't fade the Celtics' shooters at home, where the team won 17 of its last 22 games and hit at least 18 threes in three of its last four.
Pick: Celtics -6.5