NBA Playoff Picks & Preview — Game 4: Boston Celtics at Cleveland Cavaliers
The Cleveland Cavaliers, who are obviously going to live and die by the exploits of LeBron James, took a different approach to things in Game 3 of the Eastern Conference finals, spreading the ball, and as it turned out, spreading the wealth as well. That worked splendidly for them (to the tune of 116-86), but for how long can they continue to do that? The numbers were very much in their favor, but that can change when you go up against a fundamentally-sound team like the Boston Celtics, who know how to make adjustments. So we are set for Game 4 of this series, which begins at 8:35 PM ET on Monday at the Quicken Loans Arena. If you are a BetAnySports customer, you can place wagers even after the opening tip, as Live Betting Ultra offers state-of-the-art technology.
LeBron James was held to 15 points in the first game of this series, but that was a bad thing. He had “only” 27 in Game 3, and that was a good thing, as he spent much of his time setting up his teammates for opportunities. All five starters scored in double figures, and that included Tristan Thompson – lately known better as Khloe Kardashian’s baby daddy. They brought Kyle Korver off the bench to make all four of his attempts from downtown, and they also got Larry Nance Jr. very much involved with the activity, as they decided to go “bigger.” As the Celtics sat Aron Baynes down at the start, they were going smaller. Bigger won out. Will the same happen on Monday night?
In the NBA playoff odds posted at BetAnySports on this game, the Cavs, who had never lost a Game 3 with LeBron after dropping the first two of a playoff series, are favored again, of course:
Cleveland Cavaliers -6.5
Boston Celtics +6.5
Over 206.5 points -110
Under 206.5 points -110
One of the things that Boston coach Brad Stevens is expected to do is re-insert center Aron Baynes back into the lineup, even though Marcus Morris is considered to be the main defender against LeBron, who only took a dozen shots on Saturday. Somehow they would like to get a more favorable matchup for Al Horford, who has the potential to press an advantage over the defensively-deficient Kevin Love when he has the ball in his hands. Horford was missing in action in Game 3, with seven points. And Jaylen Brown was much less a factor than usual, with just three field goals.
Since Cleveland had the 45-34 rebounding edge, the assumption is that the Celts could really use some more muscle out there. They were blown out of the box relatively, with the game pretty much over by halftime. But who would suspect the game will follow that same pattern on Monday? Boston made only six of its 22 tries from three-point territory, as the Cavs did a good job at preventing advantageous looks. And for this series, Boston is only 32.5% from beyond the arc, which is well below their 37.7% regular season accuracy rate, which was second best in the NBA. Naturally, that has to improve, as does Boston’s defense from the perimeter, as Cleveland went 17 of 34 from long distance. But how do you get bigger and at the same time able to guard the perimeter better? If any team can do it, it’s the one that was #1 in the league in Defensive Rating.
Yes, Cleveland covered the number the other day. And of Boston’s five road losses in the playoffs, four of them have come by double digits. But the Cavs are customarily overvalued, and coming off that big win, we have to consider that they are just 22-48 ATS in the favorite’s role, while the Celtics are 23-9 as an underdog. Boston may not win, but they will make this a lot more competitive, so we’ll take the points.
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