Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Boston Celtics: Predictions, Starting Lineups (12/14/23)

The Cleveland Cavaliers (13-11) once again face the Boston Celtics (17-5) this Thursday (12/14/23). Get Cavaliers vs. Celtics moneyline and spread odds, as well as predictions, starting lineups, injuries, and key matchups below.

Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Boston Celtics Prediction

A same game parlay (-120 DK) containing Celtics first quarter moneyline and Kristaps Porzinigis 15+ points is the best bet here.

Boston remains an excellent bet to open the game strong. They easily lead the NBA in first quarter net rating, as the Celtics outscore opponents by 20.9 points per 100 possessions during this frame. It’s mostly because the quarter heavily features their starting lineup, which currently outscores opponents by 23.2 points per 100 possessions across 223 minutes.

Cleveland runs a pick-and-roll heavy offense with plenty of cutters to create chaos. They love to attack the basket and subsequently shoot the 8th most pace adjusted field goal attempts within eight feet of the basket.

However, Jrue Holiday and Derrick White are two of the best on-ball screen navigators in the league that Boston can throw at Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland. Cleveland’s guards will still put up numbers, but the Celtics can make them work for every shot and every step closer to the basket. Porzingis, meanwhile, is second across the NBA in rim points saved per 75 possessions (via Basketball Index). His length will be a nuisance for Cleveland’s drivers and roll men. The Cavaliers cannot hunt mismatches either, as Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are quality on-ball defenders.

Offensively, Boston’s three-point barrage faces a Cavaliers defense that ranks 20th defending catch-and-shoot threes in terms of average opponent shot quality, or degree of difficulty (via ShotQuality). Porzingis especially is in a position to thrive because Jarrett Allen will not want to completely step out to the perimeter and challenge his deep threes. Boston also loves to exploit size mismatches and post them up, and Cleveland owns an undersized backcourt.

Overall, Boston possesses arguably the best starting lineup in the NBA, and Cleveland will be without Evan Mobley – a Defensive Player of the Year candidate. The Celtics and Kristaps Porzingis should thrive in this contest.

Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Boston Celtics Prediction: SGP – Celtics 1st Quarter Moneyline & Kristaps Porzingis 15+ Points (-120 DK)

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Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Boston Celtics Best Odds

The dominant Celtics just defeated the Cavaliers by seven points, and they are nine points favorites in this rematch. Cleveland needs to win about 24 percent of the time for their +320 moneyline to hold a positive expected value, thus making it profitable in the long run.

Cleveland Cavaliers Starting Lineup

PG: Darius Garland
SG: Donovan Mitchell
SF: Max Strus
PF: Dean Wade
C: Jarrett Allen

Boston Celtics Starting Lineup

PG: Jrue Holiday
SG: Derrick White
SF: Jaylen Brown
PF: Jayson Tatum
C: Kristaps Porzingis

Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Boston Celtics Injuries

Evan Mobley, Ty Jerome, and Ricky Rubio remain out for Cleveland, while Jaylen Brown and Kristaps Porzingis are both expected to suit up.

Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Boston Celtics Key Matchups

Free Throw Battle

Boston ranks second in opponent free throw attempt rate, while Cleveland is 20th. It’s an extremely vital area because of how efficient trips to the charity stripe are. For example, a league average shooter (78.5 FT%) produces the same expected points per possession as a 52.3 3PT% shooter. Porzingis and Tatum combined for 18 free throw attempts during their Tuesday battle versus Cleveland, and they once again can inject easy points into the offense here by drawing contact.

Max Strus 3PT Shooting

Boston’s biggest flaw is their three-point defense; they are allowing fourth most open plus wide open three-point attempts per 100 possessions. Max Strus took advantage of this deficiency and went 5/11 in their Tuesday matchup. If he can burn Boston from deep, then Cleveland’s outlook becomes far brighter.

Braxton has been covering the NBA for Lineups since the 2022 season. He's worked with multiple collegiate coaching staffs regarding analytics and scouting, which has allowed him to understand the game on a deeper level. Braxton is also a contributor at Thunderous Intentions.

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