NBA Playoff Predictions – Game 5: Cleveland Cavaliers at Boston Celtics
In order to be able to advance to the NBA Finals, the Cleveland Cavaliers are going to have to win a game against the Boston Celtics on the road. So perhaps it is their good fortune that in 32 of the last 33 playoff series he’s competed in, LeBron James’ teams have won at least one road game. This would be as good a time as any for the Cavs to “steal” one, as they visit the TD Garden for Game 5 of the NBA Eastern Conference finals at 8:35 PM ET on Wednesday. Remember that if you are a BetAnySports customer, you can get reduced juice before the game starts, and then real-time wagering, which is enabled by the software you’ll find by clicking “Live Betting Ultra” in the sportsbook interface.
You have to hand it to the Cavs; they won games in entirely different ways at the Quicken Loans Arena. In Game 3, LeBron had a dozen assists and let his teammates do the bulk of the scoring. In Game 4, he took matters more into his own hands, as usual, with 44 points and only three assists. Cleveland raced off to a 34-18 lead and then beat back some mild challenges en route to a 111-102 victory that puts them in a position, should they be able to win in Beantown, of being able to close things out at home. And Boston does not like to be the visitor, as they have gone just 1-6 straight-up as the road team in the playoffs.
Once again, you can expect to see Tristan Thompson making the start at center for Boston, with the athletic Larry Nance Jr. spelling him. Because Tyronn Lue is throwing another big guy out there on the floor, it has made things a little easier for Kevin Love, especially on the defensive end, where he does not excel. This has the effect of perhaps slowing things down as far as the offensive approach is concerned, although Monday’s Pace figure of 98.0 was the “fastest” of the four games thus far.
In the odds at BetAnySports upon which we will make out NBA playoff predictions for this one, the Cavaliers are the favorites on the road:
Cleveland Cavaliers -1
Boston Celtics +1
Over 206 points -110
Under 206 points -110
There are many factors that may contribute to Boston failing to come back home with a chance to clinch this series. One of those is that they have been less than average when it comes to hitting their three-point shots. And when we say that, we are not exaggerating; this is a team that made 37.7% of its attempts in the regular season, but they are only 32.5% in this series. No one is going to win an NBA title if they are deficient on defense, and that has been the argument against the Cavaliers all year long, but it could be that they are tightening up at the right time, as they have held the Celtics to 40% overall over these last two games.
Clearly when you put Jayson Tatum out on the floor, you expect that he is going to be a factor from long-range. But Cleveland’s defensive switching has somehow prevented him from even getting shots off over the last couple of games, where he is 0-2 from downtown. But Boston has beaten itself as well; they missed four dunks in Game 4, and you can’t attribute that to anybody’s “scheme.” They played with just a three-man backcourt rotation, as Shane Larkin’s shoulder continues to sideline him. After allowing James to shoot 17-for-28 from the field on Monday, we wonder whether Brad Stevens will try to use something else to try and take the Cavs’ superstar off his mark.
A key for Cleveland will be to control the ball a little better. They committed 19 turnovers in Game 4, bringing their total up to 59 for the series. Boston, by contrast, has only 42 turnovers. This is something that may factor in big as the teams play a near pick’em game on a floor where the Celtics have won all nine times this post-season. Advantage: Boston.
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