CLEVELAND CAVALIERS (60-31)
at BOSTON CELTICS (61-35)
Tip-off: Friday, 8:30 p.m. ET
Line: Cleveland -5.5, Total: 219.5
The Cavaliers will be hoping to take a commanding 2-0 lead when they face the Celtics in Game 2 on Friday.
Wednesday nightís meeting between the Cavaliers and Celtics resulted in massive losses for sportsbooks, as the public was hammering Cleveland in a game that featured only a 3.5-point spread. The Cavaliers dominated that game, winning 117-104. It was a much bigger blowout than the final score indicated, so itís a little surprising to see that Cleveland is only favored by around five in this one. The Celtics will, however, be a much more desperate team on Friday night. They know that they canít go down two games heading into Cleveland, as that would almost certainly mean the end of their season. One trend that stands out when looking at this game is that the Cavaliers are 35-18 ATS when playing only their second game in five days over the past two seasons. The Cavaliers are, however, a miserable 4-14 ATS in road games after successfully covering the spread in three or more consecutive games over the past three seasons. One thing that shouldnít change the outcome of this game is injuries. Both teams are at full strength coming into this one, but that can obviously change at any moment.
The Cavaliers put on a show in Game 1 of this series, and SF LeBron James (34.8 PPG, 9.0 RPG, 7.1 APG, 2.1 SPG, 1.3 BPG; all player stats from postseason) was brilliant for Cleveland. James finished the game with 38 points, nine boards, seven assists, and two steals in 42 minutes of action. He was 14-for-24 from the field, which is very impressive when considering he was a lousy 1-for-6 from the outside. Nobody on the Celtics showed the ability to guard him one-on-one, and that doesnít seem like something that can change moving forward. Heíll continue to drive to the rim frequently, and if Boston doubles him then heíll do what he can to find his shooters. One guy that benefitted from the extra attention that James received in Game 1 was PF Kevin Love (15.8 PPG, 9.4 RPG). Love finished the game with 32 points and 12 boards in 34 minutes of action. He was 6-for-8 from three, and if he continues to knock down open looks then the Celtics have no chance to get back into it. PG Kyrie Irving (22.3 PPG, 5.8 APG, 1.6 SPG) didnít even play well in Game 1. He had just 11 points, and that is not likely to happen again moving forward. That is bad news for Boston.
The Celtics looked miserable in Game 1, as the team couldnít get any stops and really lacked energy as well. Boston just got done playing a grueling seven-game series with Washington, so the team might have been feeling the effects of that battle. Still, the team must find a way to bring more energy on Friday. It should be able to do that, as itís pretty clear the Celtics are fighting for their season here. One guy that must show up in order for Boston to even up the series is PG Isaiah Thomas (24.8 PPG, 6.7 APG). Thomas was lousy in Game 1, finishing with just 17 points on 7-for-19 shooting from the floor and 2-for-7 shooting from the outside. The Celtics need him to be more efficient the rest of the way, and he also will likely need to score around 30 points in order for his team to win games against the Cavs. C Al Horford (15.7 PPG, 7.5 RPG, 5.8 APG) is another guy that must get himself going in this series. Horford had only 11 points in Game 1, and he had scored 15 or more in three straight before that game. Although he is a gifted passer, the team needs him to be aggressive as a scorer in this series. Boston will also need guys like SFs Jae Crowder (13.8 PPG, 6.1 RPG, 1.1 SPG) and Jaylen Brown (3.8 PPG, 2.3 RPG) to do some solid work defensively on LeBron in this game. He manhandled them in Game 1, and that canít happen again here.