Cleveland Cavaliers +2 (48-12) at Boston Celtics -2 (48-14) O/U 184 8 PM ET Friday March 6, 2009 on ESPN
By Jason Green at Predictem.com
Tonight the Cleveland Cavaliers travel to Beantown to take on the defending champion Boston Celtics. A regular season game does not get any bigger than this and it may be bigger for the Celtics, as they currently trail the Cavs by 1 game in the Eastern Conference. Home court advantage in the playoffs is HUGE and the team that snags it has the advantage in moving on to the finals, as unless the Magic can score an upset or there is a team in the East that shocks the NBA World, this game will be a preview of the Eastern Conference finals. The Cavs are the hotter team, as they have won 4 straight and are 9-1 in their last 10 games, while the Celtics are coming off a win and are 6-4 in their last 10 games.
This season the Celtics are 25-5 at home and the Cavs are 21-11 in away games.
Hoops bookies have the Celtics as 2-point favorites with a total around 184. The Celtics are posted at -120 as home favorites and the Cavs are posted at +100 as away dogs.
The Cavs come into this game after schooling the Milwaukee Bucks 91-73 on Wednesday night. Big shock, LeBron James was the high scorer in that game for the Cavs going for 23 points on 7/11 shooting including grabbing 8 boards. For the game the Cavs shot 31/74 for a FG% of 41.9%. The reason the Cavs are where they are is their D and they showed that in this game holding the Bucks to 28/75 shooting for a FG% of only 37.3%.
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The Celtics come into this game after beating the New Jersey Nets 115-111 on Wednesday night. The high scorer for the Celtics in that game was Paul Pierce going for 31 points on 12/14 shooting. For the game the Celtics could not miss, shooting 41/67 for an insane FG% of 61.2%, including shooting 61.5% from beyond the 3-point arc. On D the Celtics allowed the Nets to shoot 38/77 for a FG% of 49.4%.
This season the Celtics rank 9th in scoring (101.7 ppg) and the Cavs rank 12th (100 ppg). This match up is between the two best defensive teams this season, as the Cavs rank 1st in points allowed (90.3 ppg) and the Celtics rank 2nd (92.6 ppg). Both teams are legit on the glass, as the Celtics are at +5.6 rpg and the Cavs are at +3 rpg.
This season the Celtics are 32-28-1 ATS and the Cavs are 37-21-1. In terms of Over/Under games the Celtics are 27-33-1 this season and the Cavs are 26-33.
On the injury front PF Kevin Garnett and C Brian Scalabrine are Out for the Celtics and SG Sasha Pavlovic is day-to-day for the Cavs.
These teams are both great on D, but the Celtics will be without defensive stud Kevin Garnett and the Cavs are without defensive stopper Ben Wallace.
Even with the stars that each team has the game may come down to who wins the PG battle with Rajon Rondo (11.4 8.4 assists per game) and Mo Williams (17.7 ppg). Williams has to keep Rondo from penetrating and Rondo has to keep Williams from having a big scoring game.
King James will get his points, but the Celtics have to keep Williams and Delonte West (12.4 ppg) from filling it up.
Since Kevin Garnett has been out with a knee injury Celtics C Kendrick Perkins (7.9 ppg 8 rpg) has stepped up. If he has a good game inside it will force LeBron to drop down to help, which will leave the perimeter open for Paul Pierce (20.3 ppg) and Ray Allen (18.2 ppg) to bomb away from 3-point land.
Neither team can afford to let the other dominate the glass, as this should be a low scoring game and 2nd chance opportunities will kill the other team.
These teams have split 2 games so far this season with each winning in their house. If the Cavs can win tonight it will give them a ton of confidence to beat the Celtics, even if the defending champs can get home court advantage in the playoffs.
Jason’s Pick: The Celtics will find a way to get it done even without K.G. on the floor.