After lackluster efforts in back-to-back upset losses to start the series, the Los Angeles Lakers face a must-win situation on Friday night as they travel to Dallas to take on the Mavericks in Game 3 of their Western Conference semifinal.
Before dropping Game 2 against Dallas the Lakers had lost back-to-back games at home only three times all season. The Lakers were a 7-point favorite on the NBA odds in Game 2 and got stomped on by the Mavericks 93-81. Dirk Nowitzki led the Mavs with 24 points and seven rebounds, while Shawn Marion chipped in with 14 points and nine boards. J.J. Barea had a strong game off the bench with 12 points in only 17 minutes on the floor.
The Lakers were led by Kobe Bryant with 23 points, but he shot a poor 9-of-20 in the loss. Andrew Bynum added 18 points and 13 rebounds, and Pau Gasol had 13 points and 10 boards. Los Angeles couldn't find their shot from long range in the loss, as they went 2-for-20 from behind the three-point line.
As if things couldn't get worse for the Lakers, they will be playing Game 3 without defensive stopper Ron Artest. The hot-headed Artest earned himself a one-game suspension by clotheslining Barea on Wednesday night. Artest was ejected for the foul.
The Mavericks should like their chances Friday night with home-court advantage. Dallas was undefeated at home in the Sportsbook round versus Portland and they have a six-game winning streak going at American Airlines Center. Even more impressive is that Dallas is also 6-0 ATS during their streak. Dallas is a 2.5-point home favorite in Game 3 at Sportsbook.
Also on the NBA betting schedule Friday is Game 3 between Chicago and Atlanta. That series is tied 1-1, and the Bulls are a 2.5-point road favorite at Sportsbook.
Looking ahead to Saturday, the Boston Celtics are in the same predicament as the Lakers, heading home for Game 3 against the Heat.
The Heat took the first two games of the series at home and took advantage of a bruised and battered Celtics squad in Game 2. Miami was a 5-point favorite Tuesday night and easily covered the spread in a 102-91 win. All of the Heat's Big Three were a factor, led by LeBron James with 35 points. Dwyane Wade had 28 points and eight rebounds, and Chris Bosh put up 17 points and 11 boards.
Rajon Rondo, slowed by a bad back, led the Celtics with 20 points and 12 assists. Paul Pierce dealt with a strained left Achilles while scoring 13 points, and Ray Allen only had seven points before a bruised chest cavity caused by a James elbow knocked him out of the game in the third quarter. All three are expected to play in Game 3.
Boston may be beaten physically and mentally after losing the first two games of the series, but they can take some comfort in heading back to Boston for the next two contests. Boston has won their last 10 games at home versus Miami while going 7-3 ATS. The Celtics are a 3-point favorite on the NBA odds at Sportsbook in Game 3.
The other matchup on the NBA betting schedule for Saturday is Game 3 between the Thunder and the Grizzlies. After splitting the first two games in Oklahoma City the Grizzlies are a 3-point favorite at Sportsbook at home, where they have won five straight and nine of their last 10.