Cleveland Cavaliers vs Boston Celtics

 

Image licensed from USA Today Sports

The Boston Celtics and the Cleveland Cavaliers take the floor at the TD Garden in Boston, Massachusetts, in Saturday night NBA action beginning at 7 pm EST. Currently, the Celtics are favored by 7-points, up from 6.5, while the total stands at 216.5-points, up from 214.5-points at the opening.

The Cavaliers won their 3rd-straight game after a huge, 2-game home set versus one of the best in the East in the Brooklyn Nets with their last being a 12-point win Friday night as Collin Sexton followed up a 42-point output in the 1st contest with 25 points along with 9 assists en route to the win. And while they withstood a huge game from Kyrie Irving in addition to giving up 48% shooting, they were able to outrebound Brooklyn by a margin of 50-29, including recording 13 offensive boards, total. The Cavaliers were able to pick up their 3rd-straight win against the number, this time as 6.5-point dogs.

The shorthanded Celtics have suddenly hit a wall in dropping their last 3 as they fell for the 2nd-straight time on the road versus Eastern Conference foe Philadelphia 76ers in the finale of a 2-game set Friday night. After Boston was able to take an 8-point lead after one period, they were outscored by 20 points in the 3 remaining quarters thanks to a monster game from center Joel Embiid, who consistently got to the foul line making 14-15 in the win. And while forward Jaylen Brown posted 42 points to lead the Celtics, Boston was heavily outrebound yet again 45-32. Boston failed to cover (as 4.5-point dogs) in their last 3 outings.

The Celtics take the floor seeking their 9th-straight victory over the Cavaliers, including 5th-straight at home. And while Boston has a record of 5-4-1 ATS in their last 10 overall versus Cleveland, they are an outstanding 3-1 against the number in their last 4 homers.

Sexton leads Cavaliers to another victory

Cleveland went a game above .500 with their 2nd-straight victory over the Nets due to another strong performance by Sexton in only his 2nd-game back from injury as he finished 8-19 from the floor while going 8-9 from the free-throw line while the Cavaliers shot 52% as a team en route to the win. Important to add that the Cavaliers graced the free-throw line a total of 32 times (making 27) in the contest. In all, Cleveland boasted 6 double-digit scorers with Andre Drummond (19 ppg, 15 rebs, blk) had another huge performance with 19 points while grabbing 16 boards, his 2nd double-double in 3 games, while Larry Nance, Jr. (11 ppg, 7 rebs) finished with 15 points and 10 rebounds.

Newly-acquired former Nets players Taurean Prince along with Jarrett Allen provided another huge lift off the bench as well with 14 and 19 points respectively on a combined 10-14 shooting night from the floor with Prince going 2-3 from deep. After a slow start offensively for the year, the Cavaliers have lit things up in this area in their last 2 outings. It will be interesting to see how this translates to their contest versus a Celtics team that was also destroyed versus the 76ers in their last 2 games allowing just over 120 points in 2-straight defeats.

Shorthanded Celtics continue to struggle

With forward Jayson Tatum (27 ppg, 7 rebs, 4 ass) out of the lineup due to an illness and not expected to be back in the lineup until early February, the Celtics enter this contest on a downward trend. Nonetheless, they will take the floor versus the red-hot Cavaliers with guard Kemba Walker (16 ppg, 5 ass), who recently returned from knee injury, along with Jaylen Brown (27 ppg, 6 rebs, 4 ass), who has been their best playmaker all season long. Brown led the team with 42 points and has posted 20 or more points in each of his last 6 games and is shooting a solid 52% from the field along with 42% from long-range on the year.

However, it should be mentioned that Walker has posted 19 points in each of his last 2 outings for the Celtics while shooting 50% on the night. On the other hand, guard Marcus Smart, who has been up and down in 2020-21 in making just 37% of his shots along with 32% from deep, has slowly been lifting himself out of a slump in posting an average of 19 points in the last 5 games for Boston. Nonetheless, it is clear to see that the Celtics are struggling due to Walker working his way back to prime game-shape along with being without a consistent counter-scorer to Brown due to the absence of Tatum.

With their offense struggling, it is imperative that Boston rely more on their defense to prevent teams from scoring on a consistent basis. However, they are coming off a 2-game set versus the 76ers to where they were awful in this area as Philadelphia shot at least 46% in each of those contests. However, it is worth noting that the Cavaliers are averaging just 107 points in their last 6 outings versus the Celtics, including 99 points in their last 5 at TD Garden Arena.

The Bottom Line
What to bet on this game.

Full-Game Side Bet
Rating:

There is no doubt that the visiting Cavaliers possess most of the momentum heading into this contest as the play from Sexton since his return from injury has seemingly sparked the entire team.  Expect them to continue their inspired play versus a Celtics team that has not played well on either end of the floor as of late.  And with Tatum remaining out of the lineup, look for the young yet talented visitors to find ways to get defensive stops against the shorthanded Celtics while also finding quality looks on the offensive end to make this game interesting as I will take the Cavaliers with the plus points.

Prediction:
Cleveland Cavaliers +7

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Full-Game Total Pick
Rating:

With the over being the result in 4 of the last 5 meetings versus these 2 teams, one should also look for the scoreboard to light up early and often in this showdown as well.  Cleveland and Boston will certainly continue to utilize its fast-paced attack versus a set of  defenses that have been beaten up as of late by opposing offenses.  Combine this with the fact that the Cavaliers will take the floor seeking to continue their current win streak while the Celtics will be looking to get back on track with a much-needed win, and there will be much on the line for each.  In all, offense is where both teams have thrived this year and I see both teams lighting it up in this contest as well.

Prediction:
Over 216.5