Boston Celtics (11-1) at Cleveland Cavaliers (8-6), 7 pm Eastern Tuesday
by Zman of Predictem.com
Eastern Conference powers collide when the best team in the league so far this season, the Boston Celtics, visit the defending conference champion Cleveland Cavaliers Tuesday night.
Basketball Sportsbooks are listing Boston as a 3-point road favorite for Tuesday’s game, with a total of 193. Also, the Celtics are listed at anywhere from -140 to -185 on some of the various moneylines, with Cleveland getting from +130 to +165 as home underdogs.
Boston has won 11 of its first 12 games this season and its last three in a row after pulling off an improbably 96-95 victory in Charlotte Saturday. So the Celtics now lead the Atlantic Division by five games over both New Jersey and Toronto.
Cleveland has also won three in a row after beating Indiana Sunday 111-106. The Cavaliers sit in third place in the Central Division, but are just a half-game back of Detroit and Milwaukee.
Cleveland has won seven of the last eight meetings in the series with Boston, and took three of four games from the Celtics last season. But all of that was B.G. – Before Garnett.
Now KG leads a team that’s favored to replace the Cavs atop the Eastern Conference totem pole. With Garnett, Paul Pierce and Ray Allen, Boston features the only threesome in the league that each averages better than 19 points per game.
On the other side of this match-up, LeBron James has been even more of a one-man gang this season than before. James is averaging 31 points, eight boards and eight assists per game; Cleveland’s next-leading scorer is Zydrunas Ilgauskas, at 15 points per.
The Celtics are a profitable 9-3 against the spread so far this season, 4-1 straight up and 3-2 against the spread on the road, and 2-2 ATS as road chalk.
The Cavaliers are 6-8 vs. the numbers this season, just 3-3 SU and 1-5 ATS at home, and 0-1 against the spread as a home dog.
Boston leads the league with its +13 points-per-game margin, while Cleveland ranks 15th at -1.1.
The Celtics are shooting 50% from the field so far this season, 38% from 3-point land and 76% from the free-throw line.
The Cavs, on the other hand, are shooting 45% from the floor, 38% from long range but just 69% from the line.
Statistically speaking, these are the two best rebounding teams in the league, with Cleveland at +5.5 boards per game and Boston at +5.2. But while the Celtics are holding opponents to 41% FG shooting, the Cavaliers are allowing foes to hit at a 46% clip.
The Sagarin PREDICTOR ratings at USAToday.com ranks Boston at #1 at 102.6, Cleveland #12 at 91.5.
On the injury front, Allen turned an ankle Saturday in Charlotte, and is listed variably as questionable/probable for Tuesday night’s game.
The o/u is 4-7-1 in Celtics games this season, which are averaging 192 points per, while the totals are 9-5 in Cavs games, which are averaging 204 points.
Zman’s Pick: Over 191 points.