It’s not often that a LeBron James team is down 2-0 in a playoff series, but that’s where James and the Cavaliers are as their Eastern Conference Finals series shifts to Cleveland on Saturday night. Despite largely dominating the first two games, Boston is a sizable NBA odds underdog.
How to Bet Celtics at Cavaliers NBA Odds & TV Info
When: Saturday, 8:30 PM ET
Where: Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland
Radio: 98.5 FM (Boston) / (Cleveland)
NBA Odds: Cavs -6.5 (205)
Why Bet on Boston?
After winning Game 1 easily, 108-83, Boston was in a bit of a dogfight for the first half of Game 2 but pulled away for a 107-94 victory and another easy cover on the spread. The Celtics are unbeaten at home in these playoffs and have covered every game at the TD Garden. They have had some issues on the road – that can happen to a young team.
It should be noted that Boston is 37-0 all-time in series when taking a 2-0 lead.
Jaylen Brown hit 9-of-18 shots and three 3-pointers for 23 points to lead a balanced Boston attack in the Game 2 win. Brown and teammate Terry Rozier led a third-quarter charge that saw the Celtics win the period 36-22, putting the game away. Brown added seven rebounds, three assists and a steal in his 35 minutes, and has now scored either 23 or 24 points in three straight games.
Rozier hit 7-of-16 shots and two 3-pointers for 18 points, five rebounds and two assists in Tuesday’s win and scored 14 of his 18 in the decisive third quarter. Rozier hit just 4-of-10 shots and scored eight points in Game 1. Al Horford hit 5-of-13 shots and a 3-pointer for 15 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, two steals and two blocks. He’s averaging 17.5 points, 7.0 rebounds, 5.0 assists, 2.0 blocks, a steal and 1.5 3-pointers and has hit 13-of-23 shots in the two games against Cleveland in this series.
Marcus Smart came off the bench for 31 minutes in Tuesday’s Game 2 win and had 11 points, five rebounds, nine assists, four steals and a 3-pointer. Smart was a team-best plus-21 overall in plus/minus. Cleveland was up 11 in the final minute of the first half, but Smart assisted on a Marcus Morris bucket, then picked off a James feed near midcourt before feeding Morris again to trim the deficit to seven. That seemed to change momentum heading into halftime.
It was Smart who confronted Cleveland’s J.R. Smith for what Smart believed was a dangerous push of a defenseless Horford late in the fourth quarter. Smart said he experienced more soreness than usual in his surgically-repaired right thumb during the Game 2 win, but he’s “not worried about it.” Smart said the discomfort was due to the positioning of the splint protecting his thumb.
Why Bet on Cleveland?
A fourth straight conference finals takes its toll on a roster. And the signs of wear might finally be showing for the Cavaliers. In Game 2, the Celtics starting backcourt of Terry Rozier and Jaylen Brown outscored the Cavaliers backcourt of George Hill and J.R. Smith 41-3.
Smith missed all seven of his shots and didn’t score a point in 27 minutes. He picked up a Flagrant 1 for pushing Al Horford in the back while he was mid-air and off balance, and then got into a shoving match with Marcus Smart, which could have resulted in an ejection and another flagrant after pushing Smart in the face. Smith is now averaging 2.0 points on 2-of-16 shooting after two games in the series. The NBA will not discipline Smith for his foul on Horford.
When LeBron is down 2-0 in the Eastern Conference playoffs, he’s a combined 6-0 in Games 3 & 4. Marcus Morris has been one of the few players who can slow down LeBron James. In two games, James has only 11 points on 4-for-14 shooting when being defended by Morris.
James was still excellent in Game 2. He hit 16-of-29 shots, 5-of-11 3-pointers and 5-of-10 free throws on his way to 42 points, 10 rebounds, 12 assists, a block and six turnovers. James scored 21 of Cleveland’s 27 points in the first quarter, tying his playoff career high for points in a period. His 42 points marked his fifth 40-point game of this postseason, but he got very little support from his teammates other than Kevin Love.
James is averaging 28.7 points on 46.7 percent shooting, 10.5 assists and 8.5 rebounds in the conference finals – slightly down from the first two rounds of the playoffs, but in line with his postseason averages. But after six players averaged double-digit scoring in Cleveland’s 4-0 sweep of the Toronto Raptors in the conference semifinals, including Smith who averaged 12.5 points while shooting 63 percent from the field, just two players are in double digits against Boston: James and Love (19.5 points and 11.5 rebounds).
Love hit 9-of-18 shots and two 3-pointers for 22 points, 15 rebounds and two assists in 35 minutes. Love is averaging 22.8 points, 11.2 rebounds, 1.8 assists, 0.8 steals, 0.8 blocks and 1.6 3-pointers on 50 percent shooting over his last five playoff games. Tristan Thompson started over Kyle Korver on Tuesday and hit 4-of-6 shots eight points and seven rebounds.
The Cavs just have to play harder. In Game 2, the Celtics had more deflections (28-18), retrieved more 50-50 balls (24-17), contested more shots (119-116) and executed more box outs (93-64),
Latest NBA Betting Trends
- Boston is 7-1 ATS in its last 8 games
- Boston is 7-1 SU in its last 8 games
- The total has gone OVER in 12 of Boston’s last 18 games
- Cleveland is 4-10 ATS in its last 14 games
- Cleveland is 5-2 SU in its last 7 games
- The total has gone UNDER in 9 of Cleveland’s last 12 games at home
Expert NBA Betting Prediction
I expect a major sense of urgency for the Cavs and a double-digit win.