Why Boston is a good play in Vegas 

June, 2, 2010

Before Kobe Bryant won another NBA title last season, the question was always going to be: Is he a good enough teammate to be the guy who leads a cohesive unit?

Before Rajon Rondo became the greatest point guard for the Boston Celtics since Dennis Johnson, the question was whether or not his teammates liked him enough to want to play with him.

The point is that winning eliminates all the questions about team chemistry. I believe that -- but I also think the way a team plays defense says as much about its got-your-back collective mentality as the number of hashmarks in the win column. You can't stop opponents in the lane if you don't have coverage on the pick-and-roll. You can't keep 3-point field goal percentages low if you don't have help fighting through a screen. On offense, chemistry is easy to develop: Everyone wants the ball and everyone is willing to play nice to get it. But defensive stops are rooted in respect for your teammates. That's chemistry.

When bettors talk about defining chemistry, that's what they mean. And right now, no team has better chemistry than the Celtics. Forget about the 91 points per game they're allowing in the playoffs. Wiseguys think about defensive efficiency when making bets. That's the total number of points allowed per 100 defensive possessions.