LeBron James has made it to the NBA Finals eight years in a row, but that’s in peril now. James and the Cleveland Cavaliers are down 2-0 in the Eastern Conference Finals and facing a must-win game next time out against the Boston Celtics. Cleveland was the favorite to win this series when it began but Boston has looked like the superior team in every way thus far.
The Cavaliers are solid favorites in Game 3 as they aim to claw back into this series with a win. James is still playing at an obscenely high level but the Celtics have been the much more balanced team in the early stages of this series.
James always seems to play his best when his back is against the wall, but he needs his teammates to step up in order for Cleveland to pick up this home win.
Game 3 of this NBA Playoff Series is on Saturday, May 19, 2018 at 8:30 p.m. ET at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland, Ohio. The contest will be nationally televised on ESPN.
The spread has moved up a half-point as the Cavaliers are now listed as seven-point favorites to win Game 3 and pull within one game of the Celtics. The majority of the money is on Boston to cover, and this is definitely an enticing line to roll with the Celtics.
The scoring total is listed at 205 points, which is up a half-point from the initial release. The “over” is the more popular choice by the betting public. Cleveland is the -280 favorite on the moneyline while the Celtics are the +230 underdogs. Boston is once again getting most of the action, as more than 85 percent of the wagers are on the Celtics to pull off the upset, which would pay off nicely.
Celtics Surprised Cavs
The Cavaliers thought they had something cooking in Game 2 as they took a seven-point lead into halftime. The Celtics flipped the script quickly in the third quarter, outscoring the Cavs by 14 points, and cruised to the 107-94 win.
Jaylen Brown led the way for Boston with 23 points and seven rebounds, although it was a balanced affair as all five starters scored in double figures. The bench was good, too, led by Marcus Smart’s 11 points and nine assists.
James had a huge night, finishing with 42 points, 12 assists and 10 rebounds in the loss. He had 21 points in the first quarter to help stake the Cavaliers to a lead but only Kevin Love helped him out. Love had 22 points but contributions elsewhere were few and far between.
Three. That’s the number of combined points the Cavaliers got out of their backcourt in Game 2, which is going to make it tough to win any game, let alone against a formidable foe. George Hill scored just three points on 1-of-4 shooting and didn’t do much else, with only two rebounds and one assist. J.R. Smith was even worse, missing all seven of his shots and finishing the game with zero points.
Hill and Smith aren’t going to be confused with All-Stars any time soon, but there is no excuse for a starting backcourt to struggle this badly. Don’t be surprised if the Cavaliers give some others a chance at guard if this duo starts slowly in Game 3.
Who You Should Bet
While all the focus is on James, this result will ultimately come down to how well the role players handle all the pressure of a must-win game. Look for the complementary cast to have a better performance at home, which will give the Cavaliers a chance at capturing this game. However, the Celtics are the easy pick against the spread.
Computer Score Prediction: Cavaliers 107, Celtics 103
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