Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Boston Celtics Game 6 Preview and Pick – Point Spread

Cleveland Cavaliers (53-29 SU, 45-33-4 ATS) vs. Boston Celtics (53-29 SU, 48-34 ATS), 8:00 p.m. EST, Thursday, May 13, 2010, TD Garden, Boston, Mass. TV: ESPN
by Ryno of

Point Spread: Cavaliers +1/Celtics -1
Over/Under: 196

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The Cleveland Cavaliers were embarrassed in Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Semifinals. The Boston Celtics manhandled them and tortured them into submission. It may have been one of the worst performances by an elite team and a superstar like LeBron James in a huge playoff game in a long time. The Celtics won the game by 32 points, 120-88, to take a 3-2 lead in the best-of-7 series and now they have a chance to close out the series at home on Thursday night.

Not many people gave the Celtics a chance coming into this series. Most people thought the Cavs would win this series easily, maybe a sweep or in five games. But the Celtics proved right away in Game 1 that they meant business, as they held a double-digit lead over the Cavs before blowing that lead and allowing the Cavs to come back and win the game in the final minutes. But the Celtics controlled Game 2 and earned a split in Cleveland. After the Cavs dominated Game 3 in Boston to take a 2-1 series lead, the Celtics took control in Game 4 and tied the series up. Then, in Game 5, the Celtics destroyed the Cavs, and could all be over for the Cavs in Game 6.

In Game 6, the Celtics trailed 23-20 after the first quarter and led 50-44 at the half. But they outscored the Cavs 30-19 in the third quarter to take an 80-63 lead and then extended the lead in the fourth quarter by outscoring the Cavs 40-25. All five starters, as well as sixth man Glen Davis, scored in double figures for the Celtics. Ray Allen led the way with 25 points, including 6-fo-9 shooting from 3-point range, Paul Pierce had 21 points, 11 rebounds and seven assists (and only one turnover), Kevin Garnett had 18 points and six rebounds, Rajon Rondo had 16 points and seven assists, Kendrick Perkins had 10 points and seven rebounds, and Davis scored 15 points off the bench. The Celtics shot 55 percent from the field and 8-for-15 from 3-point range, they outrebounded the Cavs 41-31, and they had just 10 turnovers while forcing 17 turnovers.

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The Cavs shot 41 percent from the field and 5-for-15 on 3-pointers. Shaquille O’Neal led the way with 21 points. LeBron had 15 points, six rebounds and seven assists, but he shot just 3-of-14 from the field. Anthony Parker was the only other Cavs player in double figures with 14 points.

It’s all or nothing for LeBron in Game 6. If the Cavs lose this series, there’s a great chance he’s going to leave Cleveland for a different team in the offseason. LeBron has to step up and have a memorable performance to give the Cavs a chance to win the game, just like he did in Game 3 when he scored 21 points in the first quarter and helped the Cavs jump out to a double-digit lead early in the game. The Celtics are going to be playing with a lot of confidence behind an enthusiastic crowd and will be eager to close the series out so that it doesn’t go back to Cleveland. The Cavs have to match that energy and play extremely hard on both ends of the court. LeBron needs guys like Antawn Jamison, Shaq and Mo Williams to step up and also play well on both ends of the court. LeBron has to have a big night but he can’t do it all himself. The Celtics have so many dangerous weapons with Rondo, Garnett, Allen and Pierce, so the Cavs can’t win with only one weapon.

The over is 4-1 in the last five meetings between these teams in Boston and 7-2 in the last nine meetings overall. The underdog is 4-0 ATS in the last four meetings between these teams. The Cavs are 4-1 ATS in their last five games following a double-digit home loss and 8-3-1 ATS in their last 12 games as a road underdog. The Celtics are 4-1 ATS in their last five home games and 4-0 ATS in their last four games playing on one day rest.

Ryno’s Pick: The Celtics will surely be motivated to close this series out at home. Take Boston to win and cover the spread.