NBA Finals (Almost) Set, As Boston Celtics, Dallas Mavericks Go Up 3-0

With both NBA Conference Finals now at 3-0, here is the obligatory reminder that no team in NBA history has come back from a three-game deficit to win a playoff series. The team leading the series is a perfect 154-0 in closing out the victory.

Fifteen times the team on the short end of the stick has won two games to get the series to a Game 6, and four times we have had a Game 7. But total collapse has been avoided in each of those four games.

Boston Celtics (-7.5) at Indiana Pacers

The Indiana Pacers are at home, and they have the knowledge that they absolutely should have won Game 1, if not for their own mistakes in the final minute of regulation. And they could have won Game 3, if not for a furious comeback by the Boston Celtics.

Instead, they’ve lost three games to begin the series, and they’ve lost All-Star point guard Tyrese Haliburton to a hamstring injury. He did not play in Game 3, and he will be a game time decision for Game 4.

Pacers head coach Rick Carlisle was asked about Haliburton’s potential availability during Sunday’s media meet, and he refused to talk about it.

Even if Haliburton can play in Game 4, just how effective do the Pacers think he can be?

As for the Celtics, they have yet to lose a playoff game on the road this season (5-0), and even as Jayson Tatum leads the way – he has scored 36, 23, and 36 in the three games – it has been a total team effort. They’ve had at least five players score in double figures in all three games.

Boston is a comfortable 7.5-point favorite in Game 4, and the 4-0 sweep is at -300 on the board. A miracle comeback for Indiana and a 4-3 series win is paying +10000.

Minnesota Timberwolves at Dallas Mavericks (-3)

The commanding 3-0 series lead for the Dallas Mavericks has not been about the team. It’s been about superstars. Luka Dončić has scored 33 points, 32 points, and 33 points, and in Game 2 in Minneapolis, he recorded a triple-double. Kyrie Irving has scored 30 points, 20 points, and 33 points. No one else for Dallas has scored more than 16 in any of the three games.

Having one superstar was not enough for the defending champion Denver Nuggets to get past the great defense of the Minnesota Timberwolves. But having two superstars is proving to be insurmountable.

Without question, Anthony Edwards is going to be one of the best players in the NBA for the next decade or more. But his youth and inexperience has shown up in this series.

He didn’t close out the win over the Nuggets with nearly the same force in which he began it. In Game 5 in Denver, Edwards was just 5-for-15 from the floor, and scored just 18 points. In Game 7 in Denver, he was 6-for-24 from the floor, and managed just 16 points.

In this series against Dallas, he’s shot just 38.5% (22-for-57) and committed 10 turnovers, and Edwards has shown none of the same ability to take over a game like he did to begin the playoffs.

Karl-Anthony Towns has been even worse, shooting just 27.8% from the field and 13.6% on three-pointers (3-for-22). This after he shot 44.4% from three against the Nuggets, and 52.9% against the Phoenix Suns in the first round.

The Mavericks have covered the spread in all three games of the series, and they are three-point favorites to win Game 4 on Tuesday night in Dallas. They are paying -150 to close out the series with a sweep, and the bettors are at least giving the Timberwolves a chance to make the historic comeback. They are at +1400 to win the next four games and take the series, 4-3.

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