It’s the first time a LeBron James-led team has lost the first two games of a playoff series. They’ll get a couple of days off before the series resumes in Cleveland with Game 3 on Saturday night but the Cavs will need to find some answers. The Celtics have done a great job of making life difficult for the Cavaliers supporting cast and they’ll have to find ways to contribute if Cleveland is to get back into this series.
NBA Playoffs Point Spread and Betting Analysis
The Cavs are in a must-win spot but the trends don’t support their cause. Cleveland is now 4-10 ATS in its last 14 games overall against Eastern Conference opponents, they are 0-6 ATS in their last six games played on three days or more rest and 2-11 ATS on Saturday this season. They’re also 5-18 ATS after a lost by 10 or more.
The Celtics are 5-1 ATS and SU on three or more days rest, 11-2 ATS and SU on Saturday and 23-8 ATS as a dog this season.
The Celtics will look to keep the pressure on the Cavaliers with a win in Game 3. Even after taking the first two games, everybody in Boston understands that it won’t mean anything if they allow Cleveland to bounce back at home and win the next two games. The good news is that their game plan is working well. They’re letting LeBron James do whatever he wants and making life difficult for the supporting cast. James had 15 points in Game 1 and the Cavs were blown out. He had 42 points in a triple double in Game 2 and they were again blown out. He needs help but where is going to come from? Kevin Love is chipping in about 20 but that only gets the Cavs to about 60 points. George Hill, J.R. Smith, Jeff Green, Rod Hood and Kyle Korver (for the most part) have done nothing. The Cavs simply can’t win like this.
As for the Celtics, all five of their starters reached double-digit point totals in the Game 2 win, including a team-high 23 points from Jaylen Brown. They had a shaky first half and didn’t shoot so well, but remained patient and eventually took control in the third quarter. They have a huge edge in youth and depth, and there’s no reason to believe their game plan won’t continue to work.
The fact that Cleveland is 4-9 ATS in its last 13 games versus teams with winning records is even more concerning when you factor in the success they had against the Toronto Raptors in the second round. For Cleveland to win, the cast needs to step up and the good news is that is more likely to happen at home. Look for someone like Smith to be a catalyst as he shot 41.6% from the field at home this season compared to 39.1% on the road. Hill, Korver and Green all had better field goal percentages at home than on the road too.
The Cavs also have to find a way to play better defense in this game. It’s just been too easy for the Celtics to score in Games 1 and 2, and that’s mostly because of effort. The Cavs might be in the midst of a couple of bad games or they might be falling apart. Hopefully it’s the former and they can get it together and put forth a good effort in Game 3.
Celtics vs. Cavaliers Game 3 Prediction