NBA Playoff Betting Series Preview: Boston Celtics vs. Cleveland Cavaliers
#4 Boston Celtics
(50-32, 1st place in Atlantic Division)
#1 Cleveland Cavaliers
(61-21, 1st place in Central Division)
How They Got Here: The defense for the Celtics was simply fantastic in the first round of the NBA betting playoffs against the Miami Heat. G Dwyane Wade was allowed to do as he pleased, and though it bit the C’s in Game 5, this series was never in doubt. That stifling ‘D’ turned a bunch of turnovers into easy buckets at the other end of the floor, which is why Boston is dancing in Round 2 of the playoffs.
Player To Watch: F Paul Pierce nailed the dagger in this series, beating the buzzer in Boston’s Game 3 win over the Heat. He led the way offensively with 19.6 points per game and shot a blistering 40.7 percent from beyond the arc in doing so. The Celtics’ team captain claimed that his team just needs to “flip the switch,” and they’ll need to do that in a big way to take out the behemoths of this tournament.
X-Factor: G Rajon Rondo probably isn’t considered a legitimate “X-Factor,” because everyone already knows what he can do in terms of scoring and passing, but it may be his rebounding that makes the difference. Rondo picked up 6.2 boards per game as the C’s dominated the battle on the glass against the Heat. If he can match that, the Celtics may be able to run LeBron and company off the court.
Key To Victory: Boston probably has a harder job than anyone else does in these playoffs. The C’s just need to stay focused as a team and believe in themselves, and they’ll have a chance against the Cavs.
How They Got Here: Cleveland probably got a little bit more of a fight from the Chicago Bulls than it would’ve liked, but it ultimately was never really in danger of being knocked out of the first round of the playoffs. LeBron and company were just far too much for any #8 seed to handle.
Player To Watch: F LeBron James was shooting free throws left handed at the end of this series, and not because he was trying to show off. King James may have a serious injury issue in his right arm, but he has declared that he is playing and playing at 100%. We’re not one to argue with him either, as he averaged 31.8 points, 9.2 boards, and 8.2 assists per game in the first round.
X-Factor: C Shaquille O’Neal has to not be a liability in this series. His job is going to be to clog the lane and play solid defense, but he has to stay out of foul trouble and stop turning the ball over. The Big Shaqtus is used to be a star, not an X-Factor, but he could be the only thing separating Cleveland and a trip to the Eastern Conference Finals.
Key To Victory: The Cavs just have to make sure that they stay healthy in this series. James is going to have to play at a high level, or someone else will have to step up, but as long as nothing catastrophic happens, Round 2 should go to Cleveland.
The Final Word: Boston has the roster to be able to body with the Cavs, but we just don’t see it ultimately happening. The C’s haven’t played from behind yet in this postseason, and we could see them falling flat very quickly against an imposing Cleveland team.
Cavs in 5
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