While almost everything has come up roses for Isaiah Thomas the top-seeded Boston Celtics this postseason, the championship hopeful C’s will face their stiffest challenge this postseason when they take on LeBron James and the second-seeded reigning conference champion Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals beginning on Wednesday night.
If you want to know if the Celtics can get the series upset or just how many games Boston will cover the spread in, then you’re in luck thanks to this expert preview on the Eastern Conference finals.
With Game 1 set to get underway in just over 24 hours, let’s find out if Thomas and the ‘feel-good’ story that Boston has become this postseason, can dispatch James and deny him his seventh straight trip to the NBA Finals.
Cleveland Cavs Vs Boston Celtics NBA Eastern Conference Best-of-7 Series Pick
Eastern Conference Finals Best-Of-Seven Series Odds
- Cleveland -530
- Boston +430
Wby Bet On The Cleveland Cavaliers To Beat The Celtics
The Cavaliers (59-31 SU, 41-45 ATS) finished the regular season ranked an impressive fourth in scoring (110.3 ppg), fifth in field goal shooting percentage (47.0%) and a stellar second in three-point shooting percentage (38.4%).
Led by LeBron James (26.4 ppg), the Cavs had four players average double figures in scoring including Kyrie Irving (25.2 ppg), Kevin Love (19.0 ppg) and Kyle Korver (10.7 ppg). Veterans, Channing Frye, Dahntay Jones, J.R. Smith and Tristan Thompson all averaged between 8.1 and 9.1 point per contest while Iman Shumpert and Deron Williams both contributed an identical 7.5 points per night.
Defensively, the Cavs struggled almost all season long in allowing a generous 107.2 points per game (20th) on 45.8 percent shooting from the field (16th) and 36.1 percent from beyond the arc (18th).
Despite their on-court excellence, Cleveland has struggled to cover the spread by going just 19-19 TS at home and an uninspiring 17-24 TS on the road. The good new for Cavs betting backers is that James and company have gone 5-2-1 ATS this postseason while sweeping both, the Indiana Pacers and Toronto Raptors.
Wby Bet On The Boston Celtics To Beat The Cavs
The Celtics (61-34 SU, 49-44 ATS) have one superstar in Isaiah Thomas and bunch of really good, but not great players, but the C’s did well by putting up 108.8 points per game during the regular season to rank seventh in scoring, despite ranking modest 16th in field goal shooting percentage (45.4%) and 14th in three-point shooting percentage (35.9%). Boston does shoot a blistering 80.7 percent from the free throw line to rank third overall.
Thomas averaged a team-high 28.9 points per game in the regular season and four other players all put up double figures including Avery Bradley (16.3 ppg), Al Horford (14.0 ppg), Jae Crowder (13.9 ppg) and Marcus Smart (10.6 ppg).
Sweet-shooting backup Kelly Olynyk averaged 9.0 points per game during the regular season while rookie Jaylen Brown, veteran big man Amir Johnson, Gerald Green and Terry Rozier all contributed between 5.5 and 6.6 points per game.
Defensively, the Celtics gave up 105.4 points per game to rank 15th in points allowed, but Boston also finished ninth in field goal shooting defense (45.0%) and a stupendous second in defending the three-point shot (33.2%). Boston compiled a dead-even ATS mark of 40-40-2 during the regular season but has gone 9-4 ATS in 13 games this postseason.
NBA Eastern Conference Best-Of-Seven Series Pick
The Cavs took three of four regular season meetings from Boston, but that’s not why I like the Cavs to win this series and advance to their third straight NBA Finals. For me, it is Cleveland’s emphatic 114-91 rod win in Boston on April 5 that tell me the younger Celtics are not quite ready for prime time against LeBron James.
In what was Boston’s biggest game of the season at the time, James and the Cavs rolled into Beantown and laid an emphatic whipping on the Celtic that I just can’t get past.
Boston got some really nice contributions from guys like Kelly Olynyk, Avery Bradley and Marcus Smart to beat Washington in the semifinal round, but the Cavs are a much more mature and experienced team that know how to win both, at home and on the road.
The Celtics have overcome a 2-0 series deficit against Chicago and the death of Thomas’ sister Chyna this postseason and as much as I’d like to pick them to beat James and the Cavs, I just don’t see it happening in this series.
The Cavs are 4-1 ATS in their last five road dates against Boston and that just tells me that Cleveland will get the one rod win they’ll need in order to dispatch the Celtics in what I believe will be six games.
Pick: Cleveland in 6