Cavaliers vs. Celtics Odds
|Time||7:30 p.m. ET|
|Odds via FanDuel. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.|
I’ve been looking forward to this rematch all season as the Cavaliers and Celtics played in two of the best regular season games all year when they matched up back in November. Each of those games went to overtime and saw the Cavs claim victory, so hopefully we will get another tightly contested game here.
These two teams are undoubtedly two Eastern Conference contenders, so let’s dive into how they matchup here in what could be a playoff series preview.
After starting off February on a seven-game winning streak, the Cavs have hit a bit of a cold spell as they have lost three of their last four games. Most recently they took down the Toronto Raptors in commanding fashion, winning by 25 and covering the -7.5 line.
Overall, this Cavs team played excellent ball in February and should be motivated for this one as they take on the Celtics. The Cavaliers also have the added benefit of a clean injury report so they will have their full arsenal of weapons ready.
The first two matchups between these two saw Jarrett Allen and Evan Mobley beat up on an undersized Celtics defense, but that weakness has been rectified by the return of Robert Williams III and the addition of Mike Muscala at the deadline. Overall, the Celtics have done a great job of limiting shots at the rim this season as they rank second in the NBA in Opponent Rim Rate. Expect this Cavs offense to be highly reliant on guard play and outside shooting.
That is not necessarily the worst thing in the world for this Cavs team given how exceptional their guard play has been this season. Donovan Mitchell and Darius Garland have been exceptional together and rank eighth and ninth in Wins Above Replacement in the entire NBA, according to 538’s model.
They will have their work cut out for them here as this is certainly a talented defensive Celtics backcourt with Derrick White, Marcus Smart and Jaylen Brown leading the way for the Celtics. Expect the Cavaliers to have to work to get open shots against this switch-heavy Celtics defense.
Expect the Celtics to come out with urgency here at home after an embarrassing loss to the Knicks at Madison Square Garden on Monday. The Celtics were dominated the entire game in that one, and I am sure it left a sour-taste in their mouths. Combine the recent Knicks defeat with the series of heart-breaking losses this team had against the Cavs early this season, and I expect the Celtics to come out with playoff-level intensity here as they aim to defend their home court.
The Celtics are much better prepared to defend this big Cavs frontcourt than they were in the first two matchups. The Celtics were without Time Lord in those games, and that is a huge issue when facing this twin-tower lineup of Mobley and Allen. The two Cavs big men have combined for 60 points and 42 rebounds on 63% shooting against the Celtics this season. Expect some negative regression here with Williams, Al Horford and Muscala all in the lineup.
On offense, the Celtics have an edge from beyond the arc as the Cavs rank 29th in opponent 3-point Accuracy Allowed. The Celtics offense ranks second in the NBA in 3-point Attempt Rate so I expect them to generate plenty of clean shots from 3 tonight.
The C’s struggled against the Knicks on Monday, but they were without their second option Jaylen Brown. He is expected to go for this one, and that is a huge boost for their offensive ceiling. Brown is one of their most effective shot creators and will help take the load off of Jayson Tatum’s shoulders. This Cavaliers defense has been legitimately elite, but I expect them to have issues defending the Celtics when Boston puts five shooters on the floor.
This is an exciting matchup, but I lean Celtics at -5. The Cavaliers have been excellent, but this Celtics team is starting to get fully healthy as the addition of Robert Williams III will make a huge difference. Back the Celtics to cover the five points.