Cleveland Cavaliers (25-12) at Boston Celtics (30-10)
I am not sure what to think about last night’s betting loss. We were on the Phoenix Suns -1.5 against the Atlanta Hawks. The Suns trailed by eight with a minute and a half left in the game, and the outlook was bleak. The Suns finished out the game on a huge run and found themselves up three with just one second left on the clock. That last second saw Schroeder lay in a completely meaningless bucket that couldn’t win them the game, but it lost us for those that backed the Suns.
The last-second meaningless buzzer beater to lose the cover is always a heartbreaker but it feels like we should have lost this one anyway as it was a miracle that they even got to a point where they had a shot to win and cover. We will look to get back on track tonight when I break down a huge matchup between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Boston Celtics.
The Cleveland Cavaliers will travel to Boston to face the Celtics in a rematch of last year’s Eastern Conference Finals. The big headline here should have been the return of Isaiah Thomas to Boston, but the Cavs have elected the rest the All-Star after he made his season debut last night. Instead of an IT homecoming, we are just left with a game featuring the two best teams in the east. The Celtics come into this one with the best record in the NBA at 30 wins and have won three in a row.
The Cavs are clearly just biding their time until Thomas gets fully healthy and look like they are on cruise control. Their 25 wins have them in the top five of the NBA, but it feels like they are a better team than that record. The Celtics are -2.5-point home favorites. The game total over-under is set at 213 points. Tipoff is scheduled for 5:00 PM PST from the TD Garden in Boston.
The Boston Celtics had the best record in the Eastern Conference last year but fell short to the Cleveland Cavaliers in the playoffs. They knew that they were good enough to win 50 plus games, but not good enough to beat the Cavs, so they blew the team up and made a couple of huge moves. They flipped Isaiah Thomas to the Cavs for MVP candidate Kyrie Irving and signed Gordan Hayward in free agency.
Tragedy struck just five minutes into the season as Hayward’s leg exploded and they lost him for the season. That hasn’t slowed down the C’s at all though as they are still boasting the best record in the NBA. This team has a great mix of experienced players like Al Horford to go with nice young pieces like Jalen Brown and Jayson Tatum. This is the rare squad that is built for today and built for tomorrow, and even without Hayward are legit championship contenders.
The Cavs know that December games mean nothing. Lebron James is the best player in basketball and locking up the number one seed doesn’t seem to matter to him anymore. They don’t fear playing in Boston in the playoffs. It felt like the Cavs were giving less than full effort knowing that December wins don’t mean much, as they lost four out of their last five games to close out the month.
The return of Isaiah Thomas could have been a huge NBA story. The prolific scorer made his return last night and dazzled in a limited appearance off the bench. The Cavs decided to hide their secret weapon tonight in back to backs against Boston. If Thomas were to play, I think the Cavs would have rolled in this game. He is clearly fired up and ready to play against his old team. But alas, that will have to wait for another day.
Instead of having a hugely hyped game with lots of bad blood we get a game with the Cavs coming off a back to back and probably not overly motivated. Against a Celtics team that has had three straight days off and is playing at home, with Kyrie Irving desperately wanting to beat his former big brother Lebron James. Lebron is too old and mature to get into a battle with a guy like Kyrie. Irving on the other hand? He will do anything in his power to pick up this win tonight.
To me, this game comes down to motivation. When you have two very good teams that are this evenly matched, you have to go one step deeper. Who wants it more? That will undoubtedly be the Boston Celtics. With a fired-up Kyrie looking to take it to his old team and the Cavs having the easy out of being without Thomas and playing on back to backs I see a huge difference in energy tonight.
The Celtics should come out hot and fired up, and the Cavs will likely be in cruise control like they have been for the last month. Give me the Boston Celtics -2.5 points, and I’m not sure it will even be overly competitive.