Boston Celtics vs. Cleveland Cavaliers
Date and Time: Sunday, May 21, 2017, 8:30 p.m. ET
Location: Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, OH
Celtics vs. Cavaliers TV Coverage: TNT
Brad Stevens told his players after Friday’s 130-86 loss that it only counts as one. He’s right, the Celtics lost a game. But their fragile psyche may have taking a bigger hit. Boston entered the series as the No. 1 seed after winning two more games during the regular season, but that has meant little at the outset of this series. The C’s were a 4-point dog in Game 1 and entered Friday as a 5-point pup. They lost both by a combined 57 points and had no answer for James and his gang.
If getting annihilated at home wasn’t bad enough, the C’s also lost Isaiah Thomas to a hip injury. Thomas didn’t do much on Friday before leaving for good, missing all six of his shot attempts and scoring just two points. It’s an uphill battle for the Celtics after losing the first two at home, and having to beat the Cavs on the road possibly without their leading scorer just adds to the impossible problem. The Celtics came back from an 0-2 deficit to Chicago in the first round. But they aren’t playing the Bulls.
The Cavaliers had their struggles putting complete games together during the regular season. They haven’t had any problems at the start of this series. The Cavs never trailed, led by 41 points at halftime and had the margin as high as 50 points in the second half. And once again it was James doing most of the damage. The King wasn’t on the list of MVP candidates, which was announced by the league prior to tipoff, but he proved he is easily the playoff MVP at this point. James went off for 30 points on 12 of 18 shooting playing the fewest minutes of any playoff game.
The East hasn’t been much of a problem for the Cavs. For the second straight postseason the Cavs won their first 10 games and they matched a league record by winning 13 straight playoff games overall. Cleveland has been the favored team in every game this postseason and they’ve gone 7-0-1 ATS over their last eight.
The status of Thomas for Game 3 will certainly have an impact on the Celtics and the spread. Boston’s leading scorer and sparkplug sustained a hip injury in the first half of Friday’s game and didn’t play the second half. With the C’s down by 41 points at the break I guess there wasn’t a reason for him to try and compete. Thomas will be reevaluated before a ruling on his availability for Sunday’s game is made.
According to the Celtics, Thomas originally sustained the injury in Game 6 of the Washington series and was cleared to play the deciding contest. He played nearly 40 minutes scoring 29 points in the series clincher. However, Thomas has been held in check by the Cavs, scoring just 19 points combined in the two games and was held without a field goal on Friday. His only points came on a pair of free throws in over 17 minutes of action. Boston will be in a worse spot if Thomas can’t go on Sunday.
Celtics vs. Cavaliers Free Picks
When the King speaks, his teammates listen. After Game 1, James said the Cavs didn’t play their best. They followed that 13-point win with a 44-point shellacking on Friday and James still wasn’t satisfied. When the best player in the game feels his team has “another level,” the Celtics better beware. James is doing his part and the rest of the Big Three chipped in on Friday. Kyrie Irving scored 23 points and Kevin Love 21 to support James’ 30. The Cavs were so efficient building a 41-point halftime lead and never seeing it dip below 38 the entire second half.
It was a crushing defeat for the Celtics, who were looking to rebound after a disappointing opener. But the Cavs never allowed them to come up for air. Check back for odds at BookMaker.eu and the Cavs could be a double-digit favorite if Thomas is unavailable. The Celtics will battle, but they should start turning their attention toward the draft and getting the player who can help them beat the Cavs.
Celtics vs. Cavaliers ATS Pick: Give the points with Cleveland at BookMaker.eu
Celtics vs. Cavaliers Score Prediction: Cavaliers 117 – Celtics 105