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NBA: How Do the Cavs Solve a Problem Like Boston?


NBA: How Do the Cavs Solve a Problem Like Boston?

Cleveland Cavaliers vs Boston Celtics

The Boston Celtics are not the Toronto Barneys—err Raptors—and LeBron James and his Cleveland Cavaliers learned that the hard way in Game 1.

One can say that the Cavs’ 25-point blowout loss was merely an effect of the team not shooting well. There’s also the fact that LeBron didn’t play like he usually does, with some basketball betting fans even saying he might be trying to get a feel of how Boston play before unleashing the monster that we saw against Indiana and Toronto.

However, the Celtics have turned into different beasts this postseason—with Brad Stevens emphasising defence and ball movement in the absence of his stars—and the Cavs might find themselves in deep trouble if they allow Boston to have it their way.

After all, the Beantown team is not as inexperienced in the playoffs as the young Pacers and don’t have the mental disadvantage against Cleveland like the Raptors.

Heading into Game 2 of the Eastern Conference, we dissect their Game 1 performances, highlight the key talking points and analyse the NBA betting lines for the match-up.

Talking Points

In case anyone has forgotten, the Celtics are the best defensive team in the NBA. They registered a league-leading 101.5 defensive rating in the regular season, ahead of the Utah Jazz (101.6) who boast the Defensive Player of the Year frontrunner in Rudy Gobert.

That league-best defence was on full display in Game 1 at TD Garden where the Celts limited the Cavs to just 36 percent shooting.

Sure, that can also be attributed to the fact that the Cavs were horrendous from the three-point territory. In fact, Cleveland were 1-of-12 from uncontested three-pointers in the game.

Nonetheless, pointing to that discredits the team from the great job they did on stopping Cleveland and the LeBron freight train. James, who averaged 34 points a game in their sweep of the Raptors, was held to just 15 points.

According to ESPN Stats & Info, Marcus Morris guarded James on 24 plays and limited The King to only five points on 2-of-6 shooting—an impressive performance from Morris after boldly declaring himself as one of the best LeBron defenders.

Of course, James won’t be missing 70 percent of his shots in every game, but this result shows how poor the Cavs are when James is not playing well.

Besides their defence, Boston also deserve recognition for their offensive outburst that left the Cavs trailing all game long.

Offence was supposed to be the Cavs’ bread and butter—it was supposed to be their main weapon considering their poor defence. But Boston stole Cleveland’s thunder with a first-quarter explosion that saw them end the half with a 26-point lead.

Boston used a 14-0 run early in the first quarter to pull away and never looked back as they led by as much as 29 points in the game. Three Celtics players scored 20-plus points, headed by Jaylen Brown who had 23.

Sure enough, the Celts aren’t expected to keep that offensive production throughout the whole series. In a game of averages, their 18th-ranked offence in the regular season will eventually show.

Nevertheless, Boston don’t need all seven games to be that balanced on both ends of the floor. All they need is four, and the challenge is on the Cavs to find a solution to counter the Celts whether they are clicking offensively or not.

History

After Boston’s huge Game 1 victory, it’s hard to blame their fans for dreaming of a return to the NBA Finals. They haven’t made it to the big dance since 2010, the same year they defeated the Cavs in the Eastern Conference semi-finals to end LeBron’s first stint in Cleveland.

However, it’s still too early to celebrate. Although the Celts made a statement in the opener, they haven’t won the conference title yet. As LeBron said after the Cavs’ defeat: “I have zero level of concern at this stage…I’ve been down 0-1, I’ve been down 0-2, I’ve been down before in the postseason.”

True enough, it’s just the first game and the Cavs will find some motivation from the fact that everybody also counted them out when they fell to Indiana last month.

Not to mention that the Wine and Gold won the season series against Boston, including a 121-99 victory at TD Garden just three days after overhauling their roster at the trade deadline.

What are the odds?

Compared to the odds offered in Game 1 which backed the Cavs to win, NBA betting odds this time are swinging towards the Celtics’ favour.

The Cavs are considered underdogs, with Asian handicap betting odds giving them +1.50 @ 1.88. Meanwhile, Boston are at -1.50 that pays at 2.02.

Cleveland will undoubtedly aim to tie the series at 1-1 before taking the game to Quicken Loans Arena, but it’s worth noting that the Celtics are yet to lose a home game this postseason.

Boston won all four home matches in their seven-game series against Milwaukee. Furthermore, three of their four victories against Philadelphia came at home, including the series-clinching Game 5.

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Disclaimer: Odds are correct at time of publish.

 

 

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