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May 19, 2017

There are two picks for tonight's NBA matchup.

#1: Take Boston Celtics +6 spread (buy the half point) against Cleveland Cavaliers for 3% of the bankroll.

#2: Take the UNDER 218.5 total points in Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Boston Celtics for 3% of the bankroll.

There is no question that the Boston Celtics were thoroughly handled by the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 1 of this series. Cleveland managed to come away with a 117-104 victory and even at that, the final score wasn't truly indicative of how lopsided the contest was. The Celtics were sluggish and seemd almost uninterested as they were outscored 39-61 in the first half. Part of their slow start could be attributed to the fact that the Celtics were fresh off a physical and highly emotional Game 7 with the Washington Wizards and simply came into the opening matchup flat. Meanwhile, the Cavs had more than a week to rest after their sweep of the Toronto Raptors and were the much more rested and focused team. Given their recent performance, we expect a much better showing from the Celtics, especially on the defensive side of the ball in Game 2.

The Celtics allowed the Cavs to shoot lights out in the first half of Game 1, so we expect them to have an added focus on slowing down the Cavs in the early stages of this contest. Looking at the side-by-side statistics of both teams, this was (at least on paper) a fairly evenly matched contest, except for free-throw attempts. Boston only got to the line a total of 18 times in Game 1, compared to the Cavs who took 35 free throw attempts. We expect coach Brad Stevens to have come up with a solid game plan in order to try to tip the scales and not have such a glaring disparity at the line. If the Celtics can cut down on the number of fouls and keep Cleveland off the line, they should be able to keep Game 2 much closer on the scoreboard.

In Game 1, the Celtics did a good job of neutralizing Kyrie Irving as they held him to his lowest scoring output this postseason (11 points). However, they did a poor job of covering Kevin Love as he scored a career playoff high, 32 points to go along with 12 boards. The Celtics will need to do a better job of accounting for Love and his presence down low and we expect Stevens to have a solid game plan in place in order to do just that. While it will be difficult to shut down or even slow down LeBron James, if the Celtics can contain his other two favorite weapons in Love and Irving and force the other role players to step up, they will not only have a good chance to take this game and even up the series, but it will also slow Cleveland's production on the scoreboard and keep this a much lower scoring contest.

The oddsmakers have once again listed this total fairly high given the explosiveness both teams have on the offensive side of the ball, however Game 1 just barely made its way over the total and that was due to garbage time and the Celtics half-hearted attempt at a comeback coupled with the Cavaliers lack of defense at that point in the game. If Game 2 is much more competitive, which we believe it will be, both defenses should step their game up, especially yon the defensive end. We believe the Celtics will come out in this contest motivated after the performance that they put on in front of their fans in Game 1 and will do everything they can to even up this series, and that starts on the defensive end. Even if the Celtics fall short of the outright victory, they should at least make this game competitive as they manage to stay within this rather generous spread while keeping the final score just under the posted total.

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