NBA Playoff Betting — Game 1: Cleveland Cavaliers at Boston Celtics
A in last year’s NBA Eastern Conference finals, the Boston Celtics were a little overmatched, but they fought gamely in the process of losing to the Cleveland Cavaliers. Now they come back a year later, with both rosters constructed a little differently, but any neutral observer would acknowledge that Cleveland is in a lot better shape from a physical standpoint right now. They will get this thing underway on Sunday at 3:35 PM ET at the TD Garden in Boston, and remember that if you are a BetAnySports customer, you can place wagers even after the game begins, taking advantage of what is available through Live Betting Ultra.
These teams pulled off a trade in the off-season, and the major components of that deal – Isaiah Thomas and Kyrie Irving – won’t even be involved here. Irving was of great benefit to the Celtics, as the team’s leading scorer, but he’s not available anymore after suffering an injury. He joins Gordon Hayward on the sidelines. Thomas was never really effective for the Cavaliers, then was traded to the Los Angeles Lakers. Cleveland got a number of new players, but really, none of them have wound up being major cogs in this team’s run, with the possible exception of George Hill, a point guard who does not really run the offense. Of course, we know that that responsibility goes to LeBron James, and he has been in rare form in the two playoff series thus far, averaging 34.3 points on 55.3% shooting, along with nine assists and 9.4 rebounds.
But against the team-oriented Celtics, it’s not likely that LeBron all by himself is going to get his team through to the Finals. So the role players must, well, play a role. Kevin Love is going to be extremely valuable; first of all, he is one the league’s premier rebounders. Yet he is fully capable of putting up 20 points on any given night. In fact, Love has scored 31, 21 and 23 points in his last three games, as Cleveland completed a spectacular sweep of the top-seeded Toronto Raptors.
In the NBA playoff betting odds that have been posted on Game 1 at BetAnySports, Cleveland is a small favorite on the road:
Cleveland Cavaliers -1.5
Boston Celtics +1.5
Over 204 points -110
Under 204 points -110
Love may have to operate against Al Horford, who has been a thorn in his side this season. On those occasions when Horford is guarding him one-on-one, Love has shot only 25%, but truth be told, Cleveland can turn to other people if it’s just a matter of scoring. Howver, Kyle Korver will have to be in good form as he shooting from long-range. And Boston shared the #1 position in Defensive Rating in the NBA.
Cleveland was at the other end of that scale, ranking 29th. But sometimes a good offense turns out to be a great defense. The bottom line here is that LeBron can turn on when he needs to, and he is in a comfortable atmosphere, playing with people like Love, JR Smith, Tristan Thompson and Korver. He hasn’t necessarily matched that well with the guys who came in trades, who have more or less been held as an insurance policy. That’s been tough for some of them to accept, because they were valuable pieces elsewhere. For example, Rodney Hood, who was a good scorer in Utah, has had sporadic playing time, and his frustrations came to a boil in Game 4 against Toronto, as he refused to go into the game for mop- up duty.
Brad Stevens is the league’s new boy genius, and he seems to be able to improvise something for every occasion. It doesn’t matter who was injured for the Celtics, it seems, as he has sent a series of players out there who have morphed into stars. Well, we might be a little hyperbolic about that, but there’s no doubt that Terry Rozier has come of age during this post-season.
But they have to defend James, and that responsibility will have to be shared by a few people, most notably Marcus Morris, who is generally known as an annoying defensive presence coming off the bench. This is why Cleveland’s supporting cast needs to be able to demonstrate they can stretch the floor and shoot a little, because otherwise the Celtics will be able to take away some of LeBron’s arsenal.
Certainly Boston has a surprise in them, but it’s pretty hard to bet against the wave of momentum Cleveland has built, especially since, to use an oft-beaten cliché, they seem to be peaking at the right time.
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