The Cleveland Cavaliers travel to Boston looking for more success against another quality team on Sunday night. The Cavaliers are fresh off back-to-back wins against the Brooklyn Nets, 147-135 and 125-113. They needed double overtime to get the job done in the first meeting, but deserved it thanks to a 20-8 second overtime. Collin Paxton, not James Harden and Kevin Durant, stole the show in the extra frames. Paxton scored 20 straight points for the Cavaliers, as Harden and Durant couldn’t keep up.
To prove that it was no fluke, the Cavaliers beat the Nets pathetic defense up for a 125-113 win on Friday night. The Nets were literally just standing there defensively on some offensive trips for the Cavaliers. They certainly deserved a loss for their lack of hustle. The Nets are going to have to work, everything isn’t going to just come to them because of the star power on their roster. If that’s the attitude they’re going to have, Steve Nash has a lot of work to do with his team.
Credit the Cavaliers for not being intimidated by their lineup, though. The Cavaliers appear to be a team heading in the right direction. They might have had nothing on their roster immediately after Lebron James left, but the Cavs are slowly rebuilding things. Believe it or not, there are five players on the team averaging over 15 points per game. When the Cavaliers are healthy, this isn’t a bad roster at all. Sexton has been awfully impressive, with 26.8 points and 4.2 assists per game.
The Celtics are wounded at the moment as a result of Jayson Tatum missing time because of Covid-19. He is the engine of this team, and it’s night and day for the Celtics when he isn’t in the lineup. Tatum needs to return before the Celtics start to click again. Along with Tatum absent, Payton Pritchard is out after suffering a sprained MCL against the 76ers on Friday night.
The Celtics are on a three-game losing streak, with losses against the Knicks, 105-75, 76ers, 117-109, and 76ers again, 122-110. They go into Sunday with a record of 8-6, for a slight advantage on the 8-7 Cavs. Head below for our free Cavaliers vs. Celtics pick on January 24, 2021.
Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Boston Celtics NBA Betting Odds:
Cavaliers vs. Celtics Prediction:
Cleveland are on a nice run recently, as they’re on their second three-game winning streak of the season. They opened the season at 3-0, which included an impressive 118-94 win over the 76ers. The Cavaliers then hit a wall, but have found their rhythm again. Nobody was going to find their 106-103 win over the Knicks a “good” win, so they beat the Nets in back-to-back spots.
The Cavaliers have scored 104.3 points per game for 29th in the NBA. As some of their young talent continues to develop, they can only go up from there. The real difference maker for the Cavaliers in 2020-21 has been their defensive intensity. Note that Cleveland has conceded only 106.6 points per game for fourth in the league. And on the road, they’ve allowed fewer than that, with 103.9 points surrendered per game.
I don’t think anyone anticipated the Knicks and Cavs being in the top-5 defensively in late January. They own a point differential of -2.3 going into Sunday. Last season they were -7.9 to go along with a putrid record of 19-46, dead last in the Eastern Conference. Like the Knicks, the Cavaliers may not be back to prominence, but are on the right track, and that’s all you can really ask for from the Cavs.
In their last meeting against Boston, they played them close in a 112-106 loss in March. This is a better Cleveland team, and the Celtics are limping right now. When the Celtics get Tatum back in the lineup, you’ll notice a considerable difference. Without Tatum, the Celtics have sunk to 18th in the league with 110.6 points scored a game.
They have received no bump at home without fans, having scored 109.7 points and conceding 110 points per game at TD Garden. Their defense has been mediocre, with 110.9 points against per game. They are a very vanilla team without a playmaker like Tatum healthy. It’s really hard to lay seven points with a Boston side that is just an okay squad in their current state. I will take my chances with the confident Cavaliers on Sunday.