Thursday NBA Preview

Boston Celtics v Cleveland Cavaliers

Game 1 – 10.30am (AEST), Thursday, May 18 @ Boston

Likely Line-ups:

  • Celtics – Jae Crowder, Amir Johnson, Al Horford, Avery Bradley, Isaiah Thomas
  • Cavaliers – LeBron James, Kevin Love, Tristan Thompson, JR Smith, Kyrie Irving

History: The Celtics have won 124 regular-season games to the Cavaliers’ 78, while they hold an 18-16 lead in playoffs games. The Cavs won 3 of the 4 meetings earlier this season, and swept the teams’ most recent playoff series, the 2015 first round, 4-0.

Form: Boston finished top of the Eastern Conference with a 53-29 record, before downing Chicago 4-2 in the first round and beating Washington in seven games in the semis. Cleveland went 51-31 in the regular season to finish second in the East, before sweeping Indiana and Toronto to reach the ECF.

Stats: The Cavs have won 9 of their last 11 against the Celtics, including 4 of their last 5 in Boston. The teams’ last 10 playoffs meetings were decided by 8-plus points. Five of the Cavaliers’ 8 wins in these playoffs were by 7 points or less; all 8 of the Celtics’ wins in these playoffs were by 9-plus points. The Celtics went 31-10 at home in the regular season and are 5-2 in these playoffs; they have won 14 of their last 18 at TD Garden. The Cavaliers went 20-21 on the road in the regular season but are 4-0 in the playoffs; the Cavs have won 9 of their last 12 away from Cleveland.

Final Thoughts: The top-seed Celtics have done it the hard way, coming from behind against the Bulls before beating the Wizards in seven games of a tough series – with just a two-day break before this Game 1. The Cavaliers are comparatively well-rested, forced to play just eight games in almost 40 days. The Celtics do have homecourt advantage, but with that comes extra pressure to make it count – if they drop one or both of the first two games at TD Garden, they are almost certain to get swept by the Cavs. The Celtics are arguably the best defensive team left in the playoffs, but combating LeBron James will be a far bigger test than they’ve encountered so far in the post-season. As good as Isaiah Thomas has been – and the Celtics talisman’s battle with Kyrie Irving will be vital – LeBron’s presence gives the visitors a huge advantage.

Crow’s Tip: Cleveland Cavaliers 1-10 @ $2.68

TOP TIPS

Match

Crow’s Tip

Boston Celtics v Cleveland Cavaliers

Cleveland Cavaliers -4 @ $2.04

Boston Celtics v Cleveland Cavaliers

Under 219.5 @ $1.95

Boston Celtics v Cleveland Cavaliers

1st Half Point Spread – Cavaliers -1.5 @ $1.85

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