The finish line is just 48 minutes away for the Cleveland Cavaliers, who are 10-point road favorites over the Boston Celtics in the likely deciding Game 5 of the Eastern Conference Finals today (8.30pm ET Thursday on TNT).
After winning the regular season series with Boston three games to one, the Cavaliers continued to dominate their Eastern Conference foes in Game 1 of the conference finals. Cleveland opened with a strong 30 point first quarter which turned into a 61 point half as they led the Celtics by 22 points prior to the third quarter. To their credit, Boston did mount a comeback, outscoring the Cavaliers by nine points in the second half but it wasn’t enough.
Game 2 was even more of a disaster for the Celtics at home as they were outscored by 14 points in the first quarter, 17 points in the second quarter and a whopping 44 points in the entire game. It was one of the worst playoff losses in the history of the sport and one that really could have demoralized the Celtics. Losing on their home court in such a blowout fashion was clearly not how Boston would have hoped Game 2 could have gone.
That being said, the Celtics fought tooth and nail in Game 3 to stay alive in the series, somehow managing to do so despite Isaiah Thomas being injured during the first half of Game 2. The Cavaliers once again took a substantial lead of 16 points into the half and it seemed another huge victory was on the way. But to Boston’s credit, they never threw in the towel. With LeBron James having one of the worst playoff games of his career and his supporting cast not doing much either, the Celtics outscored the Cavaliers by 19 points in the second half to win the game 111-108. It was a triumphant moment of resilience for a team with its back against the wall.
Unfortunately for Boston, that momentum only lasted into the first half of Game 4. Without Thomas, Boston just couldn’t maintain their 10 point first half lead. The Celtics, hampered by injury, were no match for the Cavaliers’ depth and the incredible shooting performance of Kyrie Irving, who took over the game when James was limited with foul trouble. It was Irving’s best playoff game so far and it led to the Cavaliers outscoring Boston by 17 points in the third quarter and 13 total for the game.
Once again Boston finds themselves with their collective backs against the wall but this time, it’s truly win or stay home. The Celtics will need a minor miracle to stay alive in this series but at the TD Garden it’s possible. While home field advantage may as well be out the window given how the Cavaliers have played all series, that doesn’t mean the Celtics don’t have one last burst left in them. If they hope to win today, they will need just that.
It’s not going to be easy. Cleveland is playing perhaps as good as they have ever been. As a team they have become more well-rounded and more of a defensive force, which was the biggest thing standing in the way of a Cavaliers repeat. During the regular season, Cleveland’s defense ranked 22nd in the NBA. In the postseason however, they have the third best defense of the 16 team field. This team may be even better this year than they were when they won the championship and for Boston, that means their season is about to come to an end.
Our Preview’s Cleveland Cavaliers vs Boston Celtics Picks & Predictions Verdict
- Without Thomas and with Al Horford failing to step up the way the Celtics need, take the Cavaliers to cover the 10 point spread and put an end to this series on the way to a date with the Golden State Warriors in an NBA Finals rematch. My pick is to bet on Cavs -10pts @ best odds of -110 with 5Dimes. It is -115 with most of the other USA betting sites online and / or the spread is less favorable.
- As for the total points, my betting prediction is to take the over on 215.5pts @ -115 with MyBookie or BetOnline. That is the lowest spread, the other bookies are generally -110 for over 216pts.
Marilee writes on NFL, MLB, NBA & tennis for USA Betting. Another area of her sporting journalistic expertise is pro wrestling. A native of Philadelphia and a big Eagles fan, she has been a sports writer for many major websites including Bleacher Report and Rant Sports. She started her journalistic career early, as sports editor for her college newspaper.