Boston Celtics (66-16) +2 , o/u 179 at Cleveland Cavaliers (45-37), 8 pm Eastern Friday, ESPN
by Zman of Predictem.com
The best team in the league during the regular season has the defending conference champs on the ropes, and will try to put them away when the Boston Celtics battle the Cleveland Cavaliers in game 6 of their best-of-7 Eastern Conference semi-final series Friday night in C-Town.
Boston grabbed a 3-2 lead in this series by taking game 5 Wednesday in Beantown 96-89, as the home team continues to hold serve. Cleveland led by 14 in the second quarter, but the Celtics came back, led by Kevin Garnett and Rajon Rondo. And the Cavs helped Boston out by missing 13 of 41 free-throw attempts.
NBA bookmakers list Cleveland as 2 1/2-point home chalk for Friday’s game, with a total of 179. The Cavaliers are also listed at right around -150 on various Vegas moneylines, with the Celtics getting around +130.
But Cleveland will be without one of its key contributors during last season’s playoff run Friday, after guard Daniel Gibson separated a shoulder in Wednesday’s game. He’ll miss at least a week.
Through the first five games of this series, both teams are shooting just 42% from the field, and the Celts have outrebounded the Cavaliers by an average of about two per game.
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These teams split four games during the regular season, with each team winning twice at home. So over nine meetings between these two teams this season, the home team has won each game. But because Cleveland has covered the spread in four of the games they lost to the Celtics, and in three of their home wins, the Cavs are 7-2 ATS vs. Boston this season.
Also, the totals went 2-2 in the regular season series, as the game averaged 185 total points, and are 2-3 in this playoff series, where they are averaging just 170 points.
During this regular season, Boston led the league in point differential at +10.3 per game and FG defense at 42%. The Celtics shot 48% from the floor as a team, 38% from beyond the arc and 77% from the free-throw line. Boston also ranked 4th in the league in rebounding at +3.1 per game and averaged a 22/14 per-game assist-to-turnover ratio.
Cleveland ranked 15th in the league in point differential at -.3 per game, shot 44% from the field, 36% from long range and 72% from the line. The Cavs also led the league in rebounding at +4.2 per game, ranked 11th in FG defense at 45.5% and averaged a 20/13 A/TO ratio.
If Cleveland wins Friday, game 7 of this series would be played Sunday in Boston, where the Celtics went 35-6 straight up and 25-15 against the spread during the regular season, and are 7-0 SU and 5-2 against the spread this playoff season. The Cavaliers went 18-23 straight up and 22-19 vs. the numbers on the road during the regular season, and are 2-4 straight up but 4-2 ATS on the road this playoff season.
The Sagarin PREDICTOR ratings at USAToday.com ranks Boston #1 at 99.11, Cleveland #14 at 90.95. Sagarin’s current NBA home-court advantage figure, which has increased steadily throughout these playoffs, is 4.02.
During the regular season, the o/u went 36-45 in Celtics games, which averaged 191 total points per, while the totals went 37-43 in Cavs games, which averaged 193 points.
Zman’s Pick: Take the Cavs minus the 2.5!