Boston Celtics (66-16 regular season) +2, o/u 182 at Cleveland Cavaliers (45-37), 8 pm Eastern Monday, TNT
by Zman of Predictem.com
After falling behind 2-0 in their best-of-seven Eastern Conference semi-final series to the team with the best record in the league, the defending conference champion Cleveland Cavaliers showed a little life by winning game 3 Saturday at home. So the Cavs will go looking to even this series up when the two teams meet for game 4 Monday night in C-Town.
NBA bookmakers are listing Cleveland as two-point home favorites for Monday’s game, with a total of 182. Also, the Cavs are posted at around -130 on various Vegas moneylines, with Boston getting +110.
The Celtics took game 1 of this series by a score of 76-72 and game two 89-73. But Cleveland beat down Boston Saturday in game three 108-84. The Cavaliers led by 19 points after one quarter Saturday, shot 54% from the field and held the Celts to 41% shooting. The Cavs covered the spread as two-point home chalk, and the game went over its total of 179.
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So through the first three games of this series, Boston is shooting 41% from the floor as a team, Cleveland 40%. And the rebounding numbers are almost even. The o/u has gone 1-2 in these first three series games, which have averaged just 167 total points.
The Celtics were a very profitable 52-28 against the spread this season, 31-10 straight up and 27-13 vs. the numbers on the road. But Boston is now 0-4 both straight up and ATS on the road this playoff season.
Cleveland went 37-45 against the spread this season, 27-14 straight up but just 15-26 ATS at home. But the Cavs are now 3-1 both SU and vs. the numbers at home in the playoffs.
These two teams split four games during the regular season, the home team winning each time. The o/u went 2-2 in those games, which averaged excluding one overtime period 185 total points.
Boston outshot Cleveland in those four games 47% to 42.5%, but the Cavs outrebounded the Celtics by a 44-39 per-game average.
During the regular season, Cleveland ranked 15th in the league in point differential at -.3 per game. The Cavs shot 44% from the field as a team, 36% from 3-point range and just 72% from the line. Cleveland also led the league in rebounding at +4.2 per game, ranked 11th in FG defense at 45.5% and posted a 20/13 per-game assist-to-turnover ratio.
Boston led the league in point differential this season at +10.3 per game, shot 48% from the floor, 38% from long range and 77% from the line. The Celtics also led the league in FG defense at 42%, ranked 4th in rebounds at +3.1 per game and averaged a 22/14 per-game A/TO ratio.
The Sagarin PREDICTOR ratings at USAToday.com lists Boston #1 at 99.6, Cleveland 14th at 90.5. Sagarin’s current NBA home-court advantage figure is 3.9.
The o/u went 37-43 in Cavs games during the regular season, as those games averaged 193 total points. In the playoffs, the totals are 4-5 in Cleveland games, and they are averaging just 181 total points.
The totals went 36-45 in Celtics games this season, as those games averaged 191 total points. And the o/u is 5-5 in Boston’s playoff games, which are also averaging just 181 total points.
Zman’s Pick: Take the Cavs at home to cover the small -2 line.