The Boston Celtics open up as a -6.5 favorite in what may be a potential Eastern Conference Finals preview as they host the Cleveland Cavaliers. Both teams are coming into this one fairly healthy as the injury reports remain mostly limited. In what will be a defensive slugfest, the over may be the look here as the odds continue to drop.
Cleveland Cavaliers vs Boston Celtics Betting Odds
As previously mentioned, the Celtics opened as a -6.5 favorite. Bettors were quick to pounce on the Cavs, taking them down to +5 as of writing. This number now resides in a dead spot, hovering between the key numbers of four and six. That gives me little interest in attacking this game from a spread perspective, especially since both defenses are expected to keep this tight which can create late game variance. The Celtics have been the more consistent force in the East, pacing the league on top of the standings along with the Milwaukee Bucks.
What gives me more intrigue in this matchup is the total as this number has drastically dropped since opening at 225.5. Bettors have continued to hammer the under, taking it down to as low as 219 as of writing. This comes as no surprise as both defenses rank in the top six in Adjusted Defensive Efficiency per TeamRankings. Both successful in limiting opposing field goal percentages, averaging 53.4% or lower in Defensive Effective Field Goal Percentage. Even with that said, the over is worth a look in this matchup.
Cleveland Cavaliers vs Boston Celtics Prediction
The Pick: Wait on the over
In what has been a very run heavy type of season, my betting philosophies in attacking the NBA have shifted away from a pregame perspective. Instead, I have leaned more towards attacking the opposite end of drastic steam movement and hitting the game live. This one serves as no different as the under continues to take on money. Should it continue to drop, I will take a position on the over as we near tip off with a target total of eight points below or more.
Scoring has not been an issue for the Boston Celtics as they are top-5 in points per game with multiple scorers spread throughout the court. The duo of Jayson Tatum and Jaylen Brown are normally enough to get the job done for most units, now also witnessing Al Horford take more command on offense as well. A spread-out style scoring approach is how you combat against the Cavaliers elite interior defense as Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen hold opponents two-point shooting to 52.5% per TeamRankings.
In order to successfully spread out the Cavaliers defense, Boston will need to continue to facilitate and shoot the three ball at an efficient rate. Three-point shooting has taken a slight dip as of late as Jayson Tatum has been in a slump since the all-star break. He’s a good enough talent as one of the best players in the league where that does not peg as a lingering issue, especially since others have stepped up during his slump. Tatum still bodes well as a facilitator, averaging 4.7 assists per game.
- Cavaliers are 3-8 ATS in the last 11 meetings in Boston
- Over is 5-2 in the last seven meetings against each other in Boston
Can Evan Mobley continue to be a dominant scoring force against the Celtics interior?
Evan Mobley vs Celtics interior
While the majority of the Cavs scoring comes from their guard play in Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland, Evan Mobley has transformed into a true scoring threat and given their offense more versatility.
Like the Celtics finding more versatility on the perimeter, the Cavs have done the same but in the interior. Being able to score on multiple levels is the key to beating an elite defense, giving the possibility for more consistent scoring throughout the game.
Should the Cavs find success down low early and often then this will open up the perimeter for Mitchell and company to work with. Mitchell is already an elite slashing guard, now having the opportunity to attack gaps off the ball.
As the under continues to take on steam, I will wait to see how low this can go before taking a position on the over.
Cleveland Cavaliers Starting Lineup
Boston Celtics Starting Lineups
Cleveland Cavaliers Injuries: N/A
Boston Celtics Injuries: Mike Muscala (Q)