Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Boston Celtics Preview and Pick – Game 5

Cleveland Cavaliers (45-37 regular season) at Boston Celtics (66-16), 8 pm Eastern Wednesday, TNT
by Zman of

The Detroit Pistons finished off the Orlando Magic in their Eastern Conference semi-final series Tuesday night after just five games. But it’s the other East semis series that gets really interesting beginning Wednesday night when the defending conference champion Cleveland Cavaliers and the Boston Celtics meet in Beantown for game 5 of their best-of-7 series that’s tied at two games apiece.

Basketball Bookies are listing Boston as 8 1/2-point favorites for Wednesday’s game, with a total of 176. The Celtics are also giving right around -500 on various Vegas moneylines, with Cleveland getting around +375.

Before this series started, Boston was listed at at least -800 to win the series, while Cleveland was getting upwards of +900 at some online sportsbooks. Now, the Celts are listed at -500 to win this series, while the Cavs are getting +400.

Boston won games 1 and 2 of this series at home by scores of 76-72 and 89-73. But Cleveland bounced back and took games 3 and 4 at home by scores of 108-84 and 88-77.

The Cavaliers went 18-23 straight up and 22-19 against the spread on the road this regular season, while Boston went an East-best 35-6 SU and 25-15 vs. the numbers at home. In these playoffs, Cleveland is 2-3 SU and 3-2 vs. the numbers on the road, while the Celtics are a perfect 6-0 straight up and 5-1 ATS at home.

These two teams split four games during the regular season, with the home team winning all four games. The o/u went 2-2 in those games, which averaged, excluding one overtime period, 185 total points.

The Celtics outshot Cleveland from the field in those four games 47% to 42.5%, but the Cavs outrebounded Boston by a 44-39 per-game margin.

The totals are 1-3 in this series, even as those totals have averaged only 180, because the games have actually averaged just 167 total points.

And not only is this series tied in the W column, the Cavs are outshooting Boston from the floor in the four games together 41% to 40%, and the rebounding totals are exactly even.

Cleveland, despite finishing this regular season eight games above .500 in the W-L column, ranked 15th in the league in point differential at -.3 per game. The Cavs shot 44% from the field as a team this season, 36% from 3-point range and just 72% from the free-throw line. Cleveland also led the league in rebounding at +4.2 per game, ranked 11th in FG defense at 45.5%, and averaged a 20/13 per-game assist-to-turnover ratio.

Boston led the league in point differential at +10.3 per game, shot 48% from the floor, 38% from long range and 77% from the line, led the league in FG defense at 42%, ranked 4th in rebounding at +3.1 per game and averaged a 22/14 per-game A/TO ratio.

The Sagarin PREDICTOR ratings at rank Boston #1 at 99.3, Cleveland 14th at 90.78. Sagarin’s current NBA home-court advantage figure continues to rise, and is listed at 3.99.

The o/u went 37-43 in Cavs games during the regular season, which averaged 193 total points per, while the totals went 36-45 in Celtics games, which averaged 191 points.

Zman’s Pick: Cleveland has gained some serious momentum in this series, despite it happening at home. We feel that it’s enough though to stay within this fat spread. Take the Cavs for what should be an easy cover.