The Boston Celtics entered the Eastern Conference Finals shorthanded and as the underdog. After Game 1, many people feel this series is theirs to lose. The Celtics stomped the Cavaliers 108-83 in Game 1 in what was nothing short of a shocking result. Many of the issues that plagued the Cavaliers in their opening round win over the Indiana Pacers cropped up as the young Celtics really challenged them. The Cavaliers have yet to lose back-to-back games in the playoffs but do they have any answers for Game 2 of this NBA matchup?
NBA Point Spread and Betting Analysis
It’s not often that we see LeBron James coming off a 25-point loss. The Game 1 defeat was his second-worst in playoff history. The Cavs are just 5-17 ATS and 12-10 this season when losing by 10 or more their previous game. They are also 2-12 ATS following a game where they scored 85 or less. James is now 8-0 in his last eight playoff games against the Toronto Raptors and just 5-8 against everyone else.
As for the Celtics, they are now 34-17-2 ATS and 32-21 SU this season against winning teams. They are 18-9-1 ATS and 20-8 SU after a win by 10 or more.
Although it’s just one loss for the Cavs, it’s definitely concerning. They’ll surely play better in Game 2 but will that be enough? After all, it’s not as if they played poorly and lost a close game; they played poorly and were blown out.
James is not going to be in the 15-point range again. That we know. But will the supporting cast show up? Celtics head coach Brad Stevens emphasized that Kevin Love and Kyle Korver shouldn’t have easy looks and they didn’t in Game 1. While Love led the team with 17 points, he and Korver combined for just seven-of-20 shooting. As a team, the Cavs shot just 36 percent from the field and 15.4 percent from three. But Boston is a good defensive team, so the Cavs have to find some answers.
The Cavs won’t shoot that poorly and the Celtics probably won’t shoot so well (51.2 percent in Game 1) but that will only close the gap a little bit. The Cavs will need more than that. If they get a signature 30 to 40-point effort from James, they could pull this out. Absent of that and good games from at least Love and one other player and the Cavs are going to be down 0-2.
The Celtics looked really comfortable and confident in Game 1, and it’s hard to figure what will change. The Cavs are a bad defensive team, so the young Celtics should be able to build their confidence each game. They had a really balanced effort in Game 1 as none of their players had tough times getting good looks. Jaylen Brown, Jayson Tatum, Al Horford and Marcus Morris not only combined for 80 points, they did so on 30-of-49 shooting (61.2 percent). Morris probably won’t light it up like that again but the Cavs don’t have any defensive stoppers outside of James and no rim protection, so the Celtics should feast each night.
The Cavs just don’t have answers. James will have to go off but the Celtics are making sure that life is difficult for everyone else. And with guys like George Hill, J.R. Smith and Kyle Korver frequently on the court, the Celtics won’t face much resistance defensively. The Celtics are peaking at the right time and the Cavs flaws seem evident. Unless something changes the momentum of this series, the Celtics should go ahead 2-0.