Celtics vs. Cavaliers Preview: Expect Boston's Defense to Bounce Back

Jim Turvey breaks down Wednesday's NBA matchup between the Boston Celtics and Cleveland Cavaliers and shares his best bet.

Celtics vs. Cavaliers Odds

Celtics Odds -2 (-127) 
Cavaliers Odds +2 (+107)
Over/Under 220 (-110 / -110)
Time 7:30 p.m. ET
Odds via BetRivers. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

In the spirit of the NBA taking up these new home-and-home sets with teams facing each other twice in the span of a week, I’m back to preview another Celtics-Cavs matchup.

Last Friday, our best bet hit (Al Horford under 7.5 rebounds) but the two leans missed (Evan Mobley under 7.5 rebounds and game total under 219). If you tailed all three at the recommended unit breakdown, you would’ve come out just on top, making 0.05 units on 2.0 units played. ROI is ROI!

On one hand, we shouldn’t weigh one game too heavily, but on the other, we do have a matchup to look over from these two just days ago. Both teams have pieces around for Wednesday’s rematch that they didn’t have last Friday when the Cavs prevailed in overtime, 132-123.

Let’s dive in.

>> Download The Action Network App to get real-time NBA odds, track your bets and follow all of our experts’ picks.

Will the Celtics Defense Bounce Back?

For the Celtics, Grant Williams, the Batman, returns. Williams comes off the bench, but he has been a key part of the Celtics’ success in recent seasons as a hyper-versatile wing who can play all across the defensive spectrum.

Defense will be the name of the game for Boston on Wednesday, as the 132 props/points”>points they gave up to Cleveland in round one of this matchup were the most they have allowed in a game since last December. As noted in the preview last time around, this is a Boston defense that was truly elite last season and has looked anything but that so far this season.

Is that because Robert Williams is out? Is it because Ime Udoka is gone? Is it fatigue from a deep playoff run last year? Is it simply small sample size?

It’s really hard to tell, but it should be heartening to Celtic nation that the team did put up their best defensive effort last time out against the Wizards, holding them to just 94 points.

The Wizards offense is a far cry from the Cavaliers offense, but if you’re a narrative person, you do have to wonder if the 132 points that the Cavs put up on the Celtics may have woken them up a bit.

Will Garland Give the Cavaliers Offense Another Gear?

On the other side of the court, the Cavs are likely returning Darius Garland to the mix on Wednesday. The All-Star point guard made it just 13 minutes into the season opener before suffering a laceration on his eyelid that kept him out for multiple weeks. He returned to practice yesterday and is probable to play tonight.

For the long term, this is only a good thing. He’s a stud young guard who should pair nicely with Donovan Mitchell to allow both to score and facilitate in combination to form one of the best (offensive) backcourts in the league.

However, for Wednesday, I am looking the other direction.

Whenever a superstar backcourt first pairs, there is some smoothing to be expected, with each player needing to get used to having the ball in his hands less than he is used to. This is a tiny sample, but in those 13 minutes he shared with Mitchell, Garland was just 2-for-8 from the field with five turnovers–not pretty.

Add in the fact that he will be coming off a not-fun injury to his eye and needing to wear goggles, and the Cleveland offense is not going to be at its peak on Wednesday night.

Celtics-Cavaliers Pick

With all that in mind, there are several ways we can play this. The main angle I like is the Celtics moneyline.

It’s straightforward, but one trend Matt Moore in particular has been on this season is that in these home and home sets, when two teams play twice in a week and the team playing at home is an underdog who just won the last game on the road as an underdog (the exact scenario we are seeing here), that home dog is just 10-26 straight up and 12-24 against the spread.

Add in the Cavs having to fit Garland back in while Grant Williams’ return doesn’t need any smoothing, and Celtics -122 at BetRivers is my best bet.

I have plenty of leans as well though. Along the same lines, I am going with Cavaliers Under 109.5 (-110 at BetMGM), and if they put up any Garland points or assists props, I’ll be looking at unders potentially (track in the app).

Finally, one player prop I like to go over is Marcus Smart’s points. He is averaging only 9.5 points per game this season, but his shooting is due for some positive regression. He got 15 shot attempts last game against Cleveland, and I’m expecting Garland and MItchell to get lost on some switches as defensive smoothing takes place in these early games as well. The best line is Over 11.5 at +100 at DraftKings.

Pick: Celtics Moneyline -122 (play to -140)