Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Boston Celtics
Date and Time: Thursday, May 23, 2017, 8:30 p.m. ET
Location: TD Garden, Boston, MA
Cavaliers vs. Celtics TV Coverage: TNT
When James had an off-night in Game 3, none of his teammates were able to pick up the slack. When The King took a seat on the bench in the first half with foul trouble, it was Irving who came to the rescue on Tuesday. Irving scored 12 points in the second quarter when James played just five minutes due to foul difficulty. He kept the hot hand in the third pouring in 21 of his career-high 42 points and the Cavs turned the tables on the Celtics, overcoming a 16-point third quarter deficit to get the 112-99 win.
Though he was saddled with four first half fouls, James more than made up for the Game 3 disappearing act. He played nearly 23 minutes in the second half hitting 10 of 18 shots for 24 of his 34 points, all without adding to his foul total. James, Irving and Kevin Love combined for 55 of their 93 points in the second half as the Cavs outscored the Celtics 65-42.
The Celtics failed to seize the momentum from their Game 3 victory and couldn’t hold on to a 16-point lead in the third quarter, moving within a loss of being eliminated. Boston played a solid game for the first two-and-a-half quarters, but failed to match Cleveland’s stars during crunch time. The loss of Isaiah Thomas was felt the most in the final 18 minutes. And the talent gap was evident with James and Irving doing what they wanted on the court.
There was a point in the first half where the Celtics had an opportunity to take control. Leading by 10 points when James went to the bench with his fourth foul, the C’s couldn’t contain Irving. Though the bulge was still 10 points at the break, the Cavs dodged a bullet and James did his thing in the second half. Now, the Celtics look to restore some faith on their own floor. One of the better homecourt teams during the regular year, the C’s are just 5-4 SU and ATS during the postseason and dropped the first two of this series by a combined 57 points.
Player to Watch
Closeout games are always the most difficult, but it’s a time when James thrives. Given a chance to end a series, James and the Cavaliers are 9-0 since he returned to Cleveland. In knocking off Indiana and Toronto in the first two rounds, James averaged 34 points, five assists and 9.5 rebounds in Game 4 victories. And who could forget his triple-double in Game 7 of last year’s Finals when he tallied 27 points, 11 rebounds and 11 assists in defeating the Warriors on the road.
And worse for the Celtics is that James should be itching to go after a dismal performance in Game 3 and spending most of the second quarter on the bench Tuesday night. Still, James had a King-like performance with 34 points on 15 of 27 shooting, but he was overshadowed by Irving. Now the spotlight is shining on James and he rarely disappoints in these situations.
Cavaliers vs. Celtics Free Picks
Brad Stevens said his team has a lot of heart and they showed that with their Game 3 victory, coming back from a 21-point deficit to shock the Cavs. But that just served as a wake-up call for LeBron, Irving and Co. Without Thomas the Celtics just don’t have the star power to compete with the Cavs and Marcus Smart isn’t going to hit seven of 10 three-pointers every game. Boston will compete after getting drubbed in the first two meetings on their home floor, but the Cavs have the talent and depth to wear them down, just like they did in the second half of Tuesday’s game.
Boston covered the 15-point spread and the line will likely be in the 6-8 point range on Thursday. Check back for odds at BookMaker.eu to get the updated numbers and consider taking the visitors to cover. James and the Cavs are unbeaten in closeout games over the past three seasons and they don’t want to extend this series with the Warriors enjoying a few extra days off.
Cavaliers vs. Celtics ATS Pick: Give the points with Cleveland at BookMaker.eu
Cavaliers vs. Celtics Score Prediction: Cavaliers 114 – Celtics 103