Oh so Good

The schedule says the Boston Celtics are playing their second game in as many nights. It's been a bit longer, though, since they faced any actual competition.

One night after a stunningly easy victory, Boston goes for its second straight win over a struggling team when it visits the Miami Heat on Friday.

Oddsmakers from Bodog have made Boston –3.5 point spread favorites (NBA Odds) for today’s game, the over/under has been set at 188.5 total points (Matchup). Our public betting information shows that 94% of bets for this game have been placed on Boston –3.5 (View NBA Bet Percentages).

The Celtics (12-2) own the NBA's best record and have an average victory margin of 14 points, but Thursday night's home win over hapless New York exhibited a new level of dominance. Boston routed the Knicks 104-59 for the sixth-biggest win in Celtics history and the most lopsided since a 153-107 victory over the Baltimore Bullets in 1970 - before any player on the current club was born.

Putting the game out of reach early gave the Celtics the luxury of resting their stars, as no Boston starter played 30 minutes. Paul Pierce and Ray Allen scored 21 points each while playing less than 29 minutes, while Kevin Garnett left the game for good midway through the third quarter and finished with eight points and 11 rebounds in 22 minutes.

"I can't even remember having that much rest,'' Garnett said. "It's good, because we have back-to-back games. Rest is important at this time.''

The extra rest for the starters should help the Celtics stay fresh Friday night, although fatigue hasn't appeared to bother them so far this season. Boston is 3-0 when playing the second half of a back-to-back.

Like the Knicks, Miami has a 4-10 record. Unlike the Knicks, though, the Heat gave the Celtics all they could handle when the teams met at TD Banknorth Garden on Nov. 16. Miami stormed back from a 15-point fourth-quarter deficit to take the lead, but Pierce's layup with 25 seconds remaining lifted Boston to a 92-91 win.

"They're a talented team," Heat center Shaquille O'Neal said after he had 17 points and nine rebounds in that contest. "They've got three Hall of Famers out there and they do very well together. We had a chance to beat them, but we let it slip away.''

The rare occasions when the Celtics have struggled this season have been on the road. Boston has dropped two of its last three games away from home, including a 109-104 overtime loss on Tuesday night at Cleveland.

Miami's starters also had an easy time in their last game, a 110-90 home victory over Charlotte on Tuesday. Dwyane Wade played 26 minutes and O'Neal was on the court for only 22 as the Heat enjoyed their first double-digit win of the season.

"I can't remember the last victory we had like this,'' said Wade, who had 13 points. "It feels good.''

Former Celtics guard Ricky Davis led Miami with 23 points off the bench, while fellow reserves Daequan Cook and Jason Williams added 19 and 11 points, respectively.

The Heat, who have alternated wins and losses over their last five games, will once again go for their first consecutive victories of 2007-08. They will likely need to do it without Smush Parker.

The reserve guard was placed on the inactive list Thursday following a Tuesday incident in which he had a dispute with a parking valet service. No charges have been filed, but Heat coach Pat Riley said in a statement that Parker is suspended while the matter is investigated.

Parker is averaging 4.8 points in nine games this season.

By: Marc Young - theSpread.com - Email Us

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