Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Boston Celtics
Date and Time: Friday, May 19, 2017, 8:30 p.m. ET
Location: TD Garden, Boston, MA
Cavaliers vs. Celtics TV Coverage: TNT
The last time the Cavaliers opened a series in the Eastern Conference playoffs on the road was two years ago when they met the top-seeded Hawks in the conference final. The Cavs rolled past Atlanta in that matchup, sweeping the series and advancing to their second ever NBA Finals. The similarities are striking, including the outcome of Game 1. Going against the top-seeded Celtics, the Cavs showed no effects of a long layoff, pounding Boston 117-104 in a game that wasn’t even that close.
Again it was LeBron James leading the way. He tallied 38 points and he got plenty of help. Kevin Love opened the floor by hitting 6 of 9 three-pointers, forcing the C’s to man-up on James, and he took advantage of the mismatches. He would drain 15-foot fadeaways or drive by single defenders to finish at the cup. He attempted 11 free throws making nine, and was 14 of 24 from the field. Cleveland’s attacking style led to 35 free throw attempts for the game and the Cavs outscored Boston 28-10 at the stripe. It’s hard to stop the Cavs when they’re playing that well and they improved to 6-0-1 ATS over their last seven contests.
The Celtics were drained after an exhausting seven-game series with the Wizards and it showed. Boston was just a bit slower in every aspect on Wednesday, playing its fourth game in the same span the Cavs played their first. Getting out of the gate quickly hasn’t been a strong suit for the Celtics this postseason and they were done in by another poor effort on Wednesday. Hopes of catching the Cavs trying to chisel off the rust of a long layoff didn’t work. The Celtics opened the game making just eight field goals and scoring 19 points in the first 12 minutes.
And they had no answer defensively for James, who knifed through the C’s to rack up 38 points. It seemed the only way Boston could stop him was by sending him to the free throw line. The Celtics made more field goals and one more triple, but they butchered their way to 26 personal fouls which led to 28 Cleveland points. That was enough for the teams to cash the over for the first time in the past seven meetings at the Garden.
James said after the Game 1 win that the Cavs didn’t play their best. It’s scary to think what would happen to Boston when Cleveland does pick it up. There’s only so much a team can do in practice and simulating game situations during a nine-day break, and the Cavs did what they could. Tyronn Lue held back on scrimmages during the break after reserve Edy Tavares broke his hand. The coach didn’t want anyone else getting injured like LeBron or Kyrie Irving or Kevin Love. So those were stopped immediately.
What the Cavs did do was get some much needed rest. And with LeBron averaging over 42 minutes per game during the postseason, recharging the batteries will make him more dangerous as the series goes on. While the Cavs were resting, the Celtics were involved in a dramatic series with the Washington Wizards, which took a toll on them. The C’s will be ready for Game 2, but so will the Cavs. And finally getting a game under their belt will only make them better.
Cavaliers vs. Celtics Free Picks
The Celtics are the higher seeded team, but that doesn’t mean much now that the Cavs struck first in convincing style and stole home court. Boston had no answer for James on Wednesday night and they aren’t going to come up with one in a short amount of time. No one has, so it’s silly to expect the C’s to do it. Love remembers his last playoff outing against the Celtics, when he injured his shoulder and was done for the 2015 postseason. He exacted some revenge with 32 points on Wednesday and the Cavs covered the 4.5-point spread.
Check back for odds at BookMaker.eu and look for the visitors to again be favored in that range. With James rested and motivated and his supporting cast chipping in, look for the Cavs to rise again. Cleveland has too many options on offense and put up 117 when Irving and J.R. Smith contributed little. I like the Cavs to keep rolling with another cover win.
Cavaliers vs. Celtics ATS Pick: Give the points with Cleveland at BookMaker.eu
Cavaliers vs. Celtics Score Prediction: Cavaliers 113 – Celtics 105