Magic Favored Over Celtics

The NBA’s Eastern Conference Finals will get underway on Sunday afternoon – and LeBron James and his Cleveland Cavaliers won’t be involved.

The top-seeded Cavaliers went down in flames against the veteran Boston Celtics in Game 6 of their Eastern Conference semifinal series on Thursday night, falling 94-85 on the road as a 1.5-point underdog at Bovada. As well as setting up an offseason of LeBron intrigue, that Thursday result also gives us Boston at Orlando in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals on Sunday afternoon (3:30pm ET, ABC).

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Boston will be looking for another big series from guard Rajon Rondo against the Magic. Rondo capped off a strong set against the Cavaliers with a 21-point, 12-assist performance in Game 6. Rondo also had six steals in that contest. Kevin Garnett had a team-high 22 points to go along with 12 rebounds for the Celtics in bouncing the Cavaliers, while Paul Pierce had 13 points, and Ray Allen had a quiet night with eight points.

Rasheed Wallace had 13 points off the bench. While the Celtics were finishing off the Cavaliers, the Magic were at home resting. Orlando had no trouble at all with the Atlanta Hawks in their second-round playoff series, throttling them four times in the series sweep. Vince Carter had 22 points for the Magic in the 98-84 series clincher on the road back on Monday night, while Dwight Howard picked up 13 points and eight rebounds.

Rashard Lewis was good for 17 points in Monday’s contest. The Magic and Celtics met four times during the regular season with Orlando going 3-1 (2-2 ATS) against Boston in those games, including 2-0 on the road. Boston grabbed both of their ATS victories in Orlando, winning 86-77 back in December and losing 96-94 (as a 3.5-point underdog) in their January meeting.

The OVER/UNDER went 1-3 in Celtics/Magic games during the regular season. The oddsmakers are siding with the Magic at home over the Celtics in Game 1 on Sunday, as they were opened as 6.5-point favorites. The OVER/UNDER for the series opener is sitting at 189.5 points.

Game 2 of the Eastern Conference Finals will be played in Orlando on Tuesday night, and the series then shifts to Boston for Game 3 on Saturday night.

The Suns and Lakers begin the Western Conference Finals in Los Angeles with Game 1 of that series on Monday night, with the Lakers set as 6-point favorites.