#502 Boston Celticsvs.#501 Cleveland Cavaliers
Written by Chuck D
Cleveland Cavaliers 60-31 (42-45 ATS) at Boston Celtics 61-35 (49-45 ATS)
When and Where: Friday, May 19, TD Garden, Boston, Mass. 8:30pm EDT (TNT)
Spread: Cleveland -5.5; Total: 219.5
The Cavaliers pushed their 2017 postseason record to 9-0 on Wednesday night, with a 13-point victory over Boston that really was not even that close. Cleveland had entered the game as a 4.5 point favorite, a spread they covered by 8.5 points. At the time of this writing, they are once again a 4.5 point favorite. Boston was originally installed as a 5.5 point underdog, but the line has moved a full point since it opened. With the victory, the Cavs took a 1-0 lead in the Eastern Conference Finals and are now looking to steal another road victory on Friday night in this best-of-seven series. The Celtics still lead the all-time head-to-head postseason series 18-17, and the overall series 142-95.
Cleveland may be the No. 2 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs, but they have been showing who the top dog in the East is all postseason. Their 117-104 win in Game was their fourth double-digit victory in their last five outings. The team had been off for 11 days prior to the win seemed to pick up right where they left off. LeBron James dropped 38 points on the Celtics and was rebound shy of a double-double. King James also pitched in seven rebounds in Game 1. “He’s playing at a high level, and that’s the reason why we’re riding him so much,” Cavs head coach Tyronn Lue told reporters. “When LeBron’s playing at that level other guys just have to be solid and we have a good chance to win.”
For the playoffs, James is averaging 34.8 points, nine rebounds, and 7.1 assists, and has topped the 30-point mark in his last seven outings. Kevin Love showed up in Game 1, scoring a career playoff-high 32 points to go along with 12 boards. Tristan Thompson posted a career postseason best himself, with 20 points and made all seven of his shots from the floor. Kyrie Irving, meanwhile, scored just 11, his lowest scoring output during the playoffs this year. Last season, when Cleveland won it all, they won their first 10 games during the postseason.
Despite entering the playoffs as the top-seed in the East, Boston has never been the favorite to make the finals, as evidenced by being underdogs at home not only for Game 1, but now for Game 2 as well. After Wednesday night’s loss, point guard Isaiah Thomas told reporters, They lace up their shoes just like us.” He added, “They just happened to play better than us in Game 1. We just gotta protect home court in Game 2 and get the win.”
Thomas managed just 17 points in Wednesday night’s defeat and made just seven of his 19 shots from the floor. It was his fourth contest out of the last six in which he has failed to register 20 points. Backup center Kelly Olynyk, who exploded for a career-playoff high 26 points in the Game 7 win over Washington, scored just two points on Wednesday night. One bright spot was rookie Jaylen Brown, who came off the bench and scored 10 points to go along with nine rebounds on 9-of-10 shooting in 20 minutes. Sticking with the shoes reference like his teammate Thomas, Brown had this to say about going head-to-head with LeBron James, “It was just playing basketball. He laces his shoes up like I lace mine up. Coming out, playing basketball and trying to make it tough for him. I feel that’s my job.”
The spread opened up at 4.5 points, but has already moved a full point due to money coming in on the Cavaliers . . . and why not? Cleveland dominated Game 1 and has yet to fall in this postseason. Some would say, the “Smart Money” is coming in on the Cavaliers and I would tend to agree. The road team is 8-2-1 against the spread in the last 11 head-to-head meetings between the two sides, and the Cavs are 5-1 ATS in this last six trips to Boston . . . trends I like to continue.
This is a large total and 219.5 is a lot of points, and the Under is 6-1 in the last seven head-to-head meetings between these two teams in Boston. The one time that the under did not hit? It was Wednesday night. As a matter of fact, both teams have been heavily trending towards the over of late. The last eight times that Cleveland has played on a Friday, the over has hit seven times. The over is also 7-1 the last eight times the Celtics have come off of a straight-up loss.
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Chuck Dowling is a 30-something University of Florida J-School alum that lives in his mother’s basement. Just kidding... there are no basements in Florida (the ground is too moist). He has been in the “biz” for his entire adult life and specializes in NCAA football and basketball, as well as soccer, boxing, and MMA. When not writing, Chuck moonlights as a high school athletics radio and internet-television broadcaster.