#508 Boston Celticsvs.#507 Cleveland Cavaliers
Written by Chuck D
Cleveland Cavaliers 62-32 (43-47 ATS) at Boston Celtics 62-37 (51-46 ATS)
When and Where: Thursday, May 25, TD Garden, Boston, Mass. 8:30pm EDT (TNT)
Spread: Cleveland -8.5; Total: 215.5
While Golden State swept right through the Western Conference, many expected Cleveland to do the same. The Celtics, however, had other ideas, upsetting the Cavaliers in Game 3 on the Cav’s own home court. That momentum was short-lived, and Cleveland bounced back to win Game 4, 112-99. The Warriors are still waiting in the NBA Finals, but Cleveland will need to win Game 5 in Boston if they want to clinch the Eastern Conference Finals and get a little rest before heading to Golden State for Game 1 on June 1.
Cleveland already holds a 3-1 lead in this best-of-seven series and can wrap up a third straight trip to the Finals with a victory on Thursday night. Kyrie Irving scored 42 points in the Game 4 victory on Tuesday, while LeBron James dropped 34 on Boston in the win. Despite the 13-point win, the Cavaliers needed a huge second half to secure the victory, and they got it, outscoring the Celtics 65-42 in the second half.
Thirty-three of Irving’s points came in a 19-minute span, and that was after he had already seemingly twisted his ankle. King James rebounded from a Game 3 effort that saw him make just four of 13 shots from the floor by making 15-of-27 in Game 4. He would say after the game of Irving, “He’s a special kid. He’s a special talent.” He added, “As the stakes get higher and higher, his game gets higher and higher, but it was nothing surprising for me.” Kevin Love is averaging 24.5 points and 12.8 rebounds through the series and had recorded a double-double in every contest thus far.
Despite having Thomas for the first game-and-a-half in the first two games in Boston, the Celtics did not represent themselves well at all. The squad fell by an average of 28.5 points, including a 44-point setback in a Game 2 that saw them trail by as much as 50 and enter the locker rooms down by an NBA postseason record 41 points. “We’re humble enough to know that we haven’t played well at home, and we want to give our home crowd a better outing than we did the past two games,” forward Jae Crowder told reporters. “We’re right there where we want to be, we’re locked in.”
Kelly Olynyk, who was the hero of Game 7 vs. Washington managed just two total points in the first two games of the series but has bounced back to average 15 ppg in his last two outings. Guard Marcus Smart, however, was not able to follow up his Game 3 brilliance in Game 4. In the victory over the Cavs he scored 27 points filling in for Isaiah Thomas, but managed just eight points on 1-of-9 shooting in Tuesday night’s defeat. Despite battling a groin injury, Crowder scored 18 points and eight rebounds in Game 4 and is averaging 15.5ppg and 7.8 rpg in the series.
The Celtics have shown signs of life the last two games. Even though I called them to cover in Game 3, I truly did not think they would win the contest. In Game 4 they managed to lead much of the affair but fell victim to a late surge by the Cavaliers. I think that surge will continue in Game 5 on Thursday night. Boston is without Thomas, and even though they are at home, Cleveland dominated both the previous games in the series in Bean-town. Look for the Cavs to comfortably cover this time around.
The over is 8-1-1 in the Celtics last 10 home games, and 8-2 in the last ten after a Celtics loss. Those make for strong plays towards the under, but this series has been pretty unpredictable and scoring should be down a little for both teams as the series returns to Boston. The under has actually hit the seven of the last eight head-to-head meetings between these two sides in Beantown.
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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.