Boston Celtics (50-32 SU 38-48-2 ATS) vs. Cleveland Cavaliers (61-21 SU 39-42-1 ATS) Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, OH Saturday May 1 2010 on TNT
by Jason Green at Predictem.com
Point Spread: Celtics +7.5 / Cavaliers -7.5
In the first game of the Eastern Conference semifinals on Saturday night the Cleveland Cavaliers host the Boston Celtics. The 2 big questions for this series are, do the aging Celtics have one more title run in them and can Shaquille O’Neal and Antawn Jamison help LeBron get his first ring? Both are legit questions for a couple of teams that had few problems winning their opening round playoff series’.
The Boston took care of the Miami Heat in 5 games and the Cavs ousted the Chicago Bulls also in 5 games. LeBron James has an injured elbow, but it should not be too bad and he should not miss any time in this series. However, if he is not 100% it just gives Boston more of a chance to advance to the conference finals.
Cleveland has won 12 of their last 13 post-season games at home.
Even though the Celtics and Cavs split the 4 games they played this season Cleveland is 14-8 against the Celtics since the 2004-2005 season.
LeBron will score his points, but the Celtics have to keep Antawn Jamison, Mo Williams, and Shaq from having big nights on offense. If they can do that James can still score a lot of points and lose, as last season’s playoffs showed.
The Cavs are a much better rebounding team and the Celtics cannot let Shaq and company dominate the boards. Much of that responsibility falls on Boston C Kendrick Perkins. He was solid in the Miami series on the boards, but only averaged 5.8 ppg and committed a team-high 16 turnovers.
Ray Allen was on fire with his shot against Miami is Boston’s first round series averaging just under 20 ppg and shooting 52.4% from the floor and an even better 52.8% (19/36) from beyond the 3-point arc. The Celtics will need him to rain from the outside in this game to pull off the Game 1 upset.
In their last game the Cavaliers beat the Chicago Bulls 96-94 at home on Tuesday in Game 5. The high scorer for the Cavs in the game was not LeBron, but Antawn Jamison going for 25 points on 8/14 shooting. For the game the Cavs shot 34/73 from the floor for a FG% of 46.6%. On defense the Cavs allowed the Bulls to shoot 35/76 for a FG% of 46.1%.
The Celtics also closed out their opening round playoff series at home on Tuesday beating the Miami Heat 96-86. The high scorer for Boston in the game was Ray Allen going for 24 points on 9/15 shooting including hitting on 5/6 from 3-pt land. For the game the Celtics shot 35/72 for a FG% of 48.6%. On D the Celtics played great holding the Heat to only 31/79 shooting for a FG% of 39.2%.
This season the Cavs ranked 9th in the league in scoring (102.1 ppg) and the Celtics only ranked 19th (99.2 ppg). On defense both teams were solid, as both ranked 5th in the league in opponents’ points allowed (95.6 ppg). The Cavs were a much better team on the glass this season, as they had a rebounding differential of +4.0 rpg and the Celtics were in the negative at -1.5 rpg.
According to the Sagarin NBA ratings the Cavs rank 2nd (96.43) and the Celtics rank 8th (93.70).
Boston was 4-1 ATS in their 1st round series against the Heat and for the series had an Over record of 3-2.
Cleveland was 2-3 ATS in their 1st round series against the Bulls and for the series had an Over record of 3-2.
On the injury front LeBron James is day-to-day for Cleveland while the Celtics are not reporting any significant injuries.
Jason’s Pick: Boston doesn’t perform well in Cleveland, with 3 of their last four games there being blowouts with the Cavs dominating the scoreboard. Look for more of the same with a 10+ point win on Saturday night.