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Handicapping Game One of the 2010 NBA Finals: Look For "Foul" Play

James Brown@@chasingballgameSenior Analyst IJune 3, 2010

PHOENIX - MAY 29:  Ron Artest #37, Kobe Bryant #24, Lamar Odom #7 and Derek Fisher #2 of the Los Angeles Lakers celebrate a play against the Phoenix Suns in the third quarter of Game Six of the Western Conference Finals during the 2010 NBA Playoffs at US Airways Center on May 29, 2010 in Phoenix, Arizona. NOTE TO USER: User expressly acknowledges and agrees that, by downloading and/or using this Photograph, user is consenting to the terms and conditions of the Getty Images License Agreement.  (Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)
Ronald Martinez/Getty Images

The Celtics and the Lakers tip off on Thursday night for Game One of the NBA Finals. Game One is one of the most crucial games in the playoffs because it sets the tone for the rest of the series. History has shown us that the winner of the first game usually extends their success into the following games.

I looked over the numbers and I have found a best bet for game one. 

Latest Line: The latest line at Brobury Sports has the Lakers at -5.5 and the total set at 192.

The line is set as expected for the finals, and with borderline even action on both sides I don’t expect too much movement either way before game time. 

Breakdown

The home-court does not matter too much in this series since both squads play well on the road. Also, the road team has won three of the last four meetings. 

This is a rivalry that both teams are determined to win.

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Both teams are dealing with injuries. It has been noted that Rajon Rondo will play, although he is not one hundred percent. Andrew Bynum is not doing much better with his knee but he will also be on the floor. 

When it comes to the Finals, you can expect players to suit up unless they are dead.

Kobe Bryant will be defended by Ray Allen and spelled with Tony Allen when Ray hits the bench. Paul Pierce will go up against Ron Artest in what will have to be the best battle on the court to watch. Regardless of the outcome, we can expect a good game on Thursday night.

Best Bet: Play over the posted 192 total points.  

Play the Over 192

All we have heard leading up to this series is how the Celtics out-manned the Lakers and pushed them around as they won in 2008. This does not sit well with the Lakers, and I look for them to play tough, physical basketball right from the tip. 

This means on offense they will drive the lane and push the ball inside when Bryant is not shooting it. On defense they will hack, push and shove to make it tough for any Celtics desiring to get in the paint.

Phil Jackson plays a crucial role in this total, having already revealed some Zen tactics. He made it known that he would pay his players to take charges. This tongue and cheek comment was aimed to get his players to stand in and take some hits. With this statement as public knowledge, the Laker players will accept the challenge and do just that. This will result in fouls being called, and thus an increase in trips to the free throw line.

Jackson even took it one step further and compared the Celtics to the Bad Boy Pistons and the “Thug-Like” Knicks. This is a sly way of alerting the officials to watch for rough play from Boston. 

On the Celtics side of the ball, Rondo played very well against the Lakers this year by driving to the paint and taking Fisher off the dribble. There will be more of that in this series, leading to fouls and/or easy baskets.

Don’t forget that Kendrick Perkins is playing with fire. If he gets another technical foul, he will be suspended for a game. The Lakers will be looking to rile him up whenever they can.

Finally Pierce and Artest will go back and forth playing tough physical basketball, and yes this to will lead to more points.

Do you see a theme here? I do. Game One goes over the total.

Play the Over 192 in Game One of the NBA Finals between the Celtics and the Lakers.

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