Boston Celtics 61-36 (49-46 ATS) at Cleveland Cavaliers 61-31 (43-45 ATS)
When and Where: Sunday, May 21, Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, Ohio 8:30pm EDT (TNT)
Spread: Cleveland -14.5; Total: 216.5
In case you were hiding under a rock and did not hear, Cleveland beat the living snot out of Boston in Game 2 on Friday night. In the 130-86 victory, the Cavaliers led by as much as 50, set an NBA playoff record by leading by 41 points at the break, and a franchise record for total points. That was with the team resting all of their starters in the fourth quarter. After the beat down, the line for Game 3 moved from -5.5 to -14.5, which seems like it should be some sort of record as well. Cleveland now leads the best-of-seven series 2-0 and will be hoping to sweep the Eastern Conference finals with the next two games taking place at home.
Boston Better Step it Up
The Celtics have been embarrassed to this point. The No. 1 seed has lost both of the first two games of the series, on their home floor, by a combined 57 points. Even worse, one of those defeats came by 44 points. The bright spot is that they will have the top draft pick in this year’s draft, and they have a lot of cap room, but none of that matters right now. The squad trailed 72-31 at halftime and almost suffered the worst loss in the franchises’s playoff history.
Star point guard Isaiah Thomas re-injured his hip in the first half and finished with just two points while going 0-6 from the floor. Thomas did not play in the second half, and has now been ruled out for the remainder of the playoffs. Fellow guard, Avery Bradley, told reporters, “Isaiah brings a lot to this team, not just with his leadership but his play. Most important, I just hope he’s better.” He added, “I care about him off the floor. I just hope he’s OK.” One strong point for Boston has been backup strong forward Jaylen Brown, who has averaged 14.5 points on 12-of-18 shooting for the series.
Cavs just Crushing it
As the No. 2 seed, Cleveland was tasked with playing the first two games of their series in Boston. This did not prove to be an issues, as they handled the Celtics with ease in each match up. Now heading back to Cleveland, the team looks to improve to 11-0 in the postseason and take a 3-0 series lead. They have already set a National Basketball Association record with 13 straight playoff wins, but head coach Tyronn Lue does not seem convinced, stating, “It’s one game. I don’t care if you win by 200 points. We’re going back home, we’re not going to get comfortable.” He added, “We understand that this is a good team. They’re not No. 1 in the East for no reason.”
LeBron James is averaging 34.3 points per game in the playoffs to go along with 8.5 rebounds and 7.1 assists. He was not named as an MVP finalist for the first time since 2008, but sure played like one in Game 2, scoring 30 points and hitting 66.7 percent of his shots. “My only job is to try to be the MVP for this team every night,” King James told reporters after Game 2. “I know what I bring to the table. This league knows what I bring to the table.” He has now scored 30 or more in eight straiht games, one away from tying Kareem Abdul-Jabar’s mark of nine straight in 1970. Kevin Love has showed out in the first two games of the series, averaging 26.5 points on 12-of-18 shooting from 3-point range, and pulling down 12 rebounds.
- 5-2 ATS in their last 7 road games
- 5-2 ATS in their last 7 road games vs. a team with a winning home record
- 7-3 ATS in their last 10 games following a straight up loss of more than 10 points
- 9-4 ATS in their last 13 games overall
- 1-3-1 ATS in their last 5 Sunday games
The nine-point jump in the spread is impressive, but it also seems like a bit of an overreaction. Yes, the Cavaliers are looking very impressive, and they will be playing back in front of their home fans, but no self-respecting team is going to lay down after getting pummeled like that. You should expect Boston to put their best foot forward in Cleveland on Sunday night. Look for the Cavs to still win this one. That is almost a forgone conclusion at this point, but Boston is going to come out scrappy and at the end of the night, they will cover this large spread . . . and as I was writing this, it has just been announced that Isaiah Thomas has been ruled out for the rest of the playoffs. I still like for the boys from Boston to show up and cover though.
Pick: Boston +14.5
The over is 4-0 in the Cavaliers last four home games, and 4-1 the last five times that they scored 125 points in their previous game. Also, the last six times the Cavs came back home after being on the road for seven or more days, the under has hit. However, in light of the Thomas injury, you might expect the Cavs to be on cruise control in this one and not waste any unnecessary energy. Also the under is 11-5 the last 16 times these two teams have met.