April 21, 2015 (Posted at 5:00 PM ET)
Tonight's pick is a 2% one.
Take Boston Celtics at +11 spread against Cleveland Cavaliers risking 2% of the bankroll.
The Celtics travel to Quicken Loans Arena to take on the Cavaliers in Game 2 of their potential 7-game series. While many will look at the box score of Game 1 and think that the Celtics were thoroughly outclassed, that doesn't tell the full story. They did show flashes of brilliance and were also able to contain the Cavalier offense at certain intervals. Brad Stevens is a remarkable coach. What he was able to do with this make shift team considering all of the roster changes is a testament to his coaching style. A big reason for the success of this Celtics team has been their ability to make adjustments, not only in game adjustments, but adjustments as a team themselves. Trading away marquee players and bringing in much younger, lesser named talent was a bold move. Even after the Celtics were expected to be in a rebuilding mode, Stevens went out and acquired more prospective talent and added them to the roster and what emerged was a playoff caliber team. One that is no secret to making critical adjustments in order to succeed and that is what we believe will allow them to be successful in tonight’s contest.
It's true that the Cavaliers were dominant in some phases of game 1. They completely killed the Celtics on the boards, out rebounding them 46-34 which included grabbing 15 offensive rebounds in that contest. Kyrie Irving was also a huge factor in Cleveland's Game 1 victory. Irving scored 30 points and at one point in the game was perfect from the 3 point arc. While there is no doubt that Cleveland did play extremely well, they were also fortunate in some regards. Kyrie Irving made some spectacular shots during the third and 4th quarter to extend the Cavalier's lead, keeping the Celtics rally at bay. While those shots were spectacular, they were extremely low percentage looks that fortunately for him, went in. The Cavaliers also outscored the Celtics from the charity stripe, getting there 11 more times than their opponents. Despite the many advantages that Cleveland had in that contest, they still only managed to come away with a 13 point win and a 1 point cover of the spread. Another reason why the Cavaliers managed to cover the spread was due to Evan Turner missing a wide open layup in the final seconds of the game; otherwise Cleveland would have only won the game by 11 while the Celtics would have been the benefactors of a cover. So while the Celtics ultimately fell short of the cover in the opening game, Game 2 should be different. We don't expect there to be such a glaring difference in rebounding margin again. The Celtics and Brad Stevens have made great adjustments all season long and we don't expect that to change tonight.
On paper, many believe that the Celtics are simply outclassed and that Cleveland is far and away the much better team. While that may be true, there is no discounting the heart of this Celtics team. They were not intimidated by the Cavaliers in Game 1 and we don't expect them to be intimidated in this game either. They allowed the first meeting to get away from them but we expect them to make the necessary adjustments and keep this game much closer than expected. There is also a huge difference between winning this the game and covering the spread. We don't necessarily need the Celtics to win this game; we just need them to keep it competitive. The Celtics were down by as many as 29 in Game 1 and still came a single point away from covering the spread. Even if Cleveland does manage to get a healthy lead in this game, the Celtics have shown their grit and determination to fight through adversity and claw their way back from a deficit. While Cleveland would no doubt love to go up 2-0 in the series, they likely don't care whether they win this game by 10 points or 1 point as long as they grab the victory. The Celtics meanwhile are the team with something to prove. No one believes they can beat the Cavaliers. Not only do they not believe they can win the series, but many don't expect them to win a single game this series. The Celtics are playing for much more than a playoff victory, they are also playing for a sense of pride so even if they do ultimately fall down 0-2 in the series, we at the very least expect their best effort and that should be enough to keep this game within 10 or less points.
Other notable facts to consider:
- Boston is 31-18 ATS as an underdog!
- Boston is 27-15 ATS in road games.
- Boston is 32-21 ATS when revenging a loss vs opponent this season.
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