NBA Playoffs: Celtics vs Cavaliers Game 3 Preview And Odds

Cleveland Stunned Boston In Game 2

Well, the silver lining for Celtics fans after a dreadful Game 2 showing on Thursday night is that their opening-round series against the Heat followed the same path. The Celtics will look to mirror that series and win the next three games are an ugly 118-94 home loss that tied up this matchup at one game apiece. Game 3 in Cleveland is on Saturday night, and the Celtics vs Cavaliers lines have Boston as 7.5-point favorites on the spread and as -330 moneyline favorites.

In the Heat series, Boston easily won Game 1 before laying an egg in the second game, only to follow that up with three comfortable wins to close things out in five games. The Celtics starters got out to a quick start on Thursday, going up by seven and threatening to post another easy win. However, the Cavaliers fought back and went on a 21-5 run to take a slight lead.

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As expected from a team at the top of the NBA East standings, Boston came back and went up by as much as eight in the second quarter before Cleveland tied it up at halftime.

Then, the Cavaliers really got to work. Threes from Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland right at the start of the third quarter gave Cleveland the lead and J.B. Bickerstaff’s team never looked back even as Boston cut the deficit to one point. By the end of the third, the Cavaliers were up by 12 and turned it into a full-on rout in the final frame.

Mitchell was incredible, every Cavalier starter scored in double figures and Caris LeVert added 21 points off the bench. On the other hand, Boston shot just 23% from three and got nothing from Jrue Holiday or Derrick White.

Celtics logo Boston Celtics vs Cleveland Cavaliers Cavaliers logo

Day/Time:
Location: Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse, Cleveland, Ohio
Streaming: ABC

Another Game 2 Clunker For Boston

It’s very strange that such a dominant home team during the regular season — the Celtics went a ridiculous 37-4 at TD Garden in the 2023-2024 campaign — has suddenly had two major no-shows at home in their first five home NBA playoff games. And, interestingly enough, both have had happened in Game 2 after comfortable Game 1 wins.

Is it a fluke and will the Cavaliers series look much like the Heat series did, or was Thursday’s game a sign that Boston is in more trouble without Kristaps Porzingis than everyone thought?

The Celtics vs Cavaliers lines don’t seem to be particularly worried about Boston and with good reason. It would be difficult to imagine the Celtics having such a bad shooting game once again with the Cavaliers having such a good shooting game considering the radically different levels of offensive ability on these two teams.

Like Game 2 against Miami, this one was a perfect storm of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown being the only two guys to do much scoring while the opposing team just got uncharacteristically hot from the perimeter.

Granted, this is always a concern with the Celtics because it’s pretty much the same script for all of their losses. When you live by the three, you can die by the three on occasion as well. However, more often than not, teams aren’t able to withstand Boston’s offensive barrages during the good times and the Celtics’ discipline and chemistry can often overcome subpar shooting games during the bad times. If you’re making NBA betting picks, look for Boston to bounce back.

Can Cleveland Replicate That Showing?

For as much focus there (rightfully) is on the Celtics underperforming when they get blown out as the No. 1 seed at home, a lot of credit needs to go to the Cavaliers. They shot nearly 55% from three, got 12+ points from six different players and absolutely destroyed Boston’s starters. Mitchell was a +38 in 39 minutes and Evan Mobley was a +35 in 33 minutes, for example. There’s a reason the Celtics vs Cavaliers lines moved toward Cleveland by around five points for Saturday’s Game 3.

But, can the Cavaliers do it again? They played a pretty perfect second half on Thursday, outscoring the Celtics 64-40. Even without Jarrett Allen in the middle, Cleveland was able to outrebound Boston by 13 and hold the Celtics to under 42% shooting from the field. Nothing was easy for Boston down the stretch and while it always feels that way when a perimeter-heavy team can’t buy a three, it was in part due to Cleveland’s trademark switching defense that suffocated the Celtics’ movement.

The NBA odds still expect Boston to easily win Game 3 because it’s so hard to outplay such a good team two games in a row. However, the major line movement in Cleveland’s favor and the concerning performances from some of Boston’s key guys do indicate that the Cavaliers have a chance. At +270 on the moneyline, Cleveland is a sizable underdog compared to Boston (at -330) but crazier things have happened.

One thing for certain is that the over/under being 212.5 points seems a bit high based on how the Cavaliers have played all postseason. Consider going with the under at -110 as Cleveland likely won’t have an 118-point outburst again even though they’re undefeated at home so far in the playoffs.

For NBA betting news, odds analysis, and more, visit Point Spreads Sports Magazine.


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