Network Notebook: NBA Preview…Boston at Cleveland

If you watched the first third of this past Sunday’s first round playoff game between the Boston Celtics and the Cleveland Cavaliers…you saw the very best the young underdog had to offer. Hustling. Enthusiasm. Heart. Grit. Smart coaching from a young prodigy. It got them a temporary lead that quickly vanished once Cleveland shifted into high gear.

Boston may or may not be a team of the future depending on what personnel additions they make in coming years. There’s a lot to like about the coach and a few of the key players. But…right now…they don’t have much hope of extending the Cavaliers deep into a best-of-seven because only one team has All-Stars!

LeBron James. Kyrie Irving. Kevin Love. How can Boston hope to contain any of them, let alone all of them?!

To get ready for Tuesday’s Game Two, let’s run the regular season numbers from JIM HURLEY’S key indicator stats then take a quick look at Sunday afternoon’s boxscore…

Offensive Efficiency
Boston: 101.7 per 100 possessions (ranked #20 in the NBA)
Cleveland: 107.7 per 100 possessions (ranked #4 in the NBA)

Cleveland had some rough spots before getting all of their ducks in a row, yet still finished as a top five offense. Boston was below league average. A complete and utter mismatch in terms of efficiency. And, if you break it down to “late-game…in the playoffs…you’ve GOT to score a bucket,” it’s an even bigger mismatch. It’s one of the biggest mismatches imaginable in terms of clutch baskets (if any are ever even needed!)

Defensive Efficiency
Boston: 102.1 per 100 possessions (ranked #12 in the NBA)
Cleveland: 104.1 per 100 possessions (ranked #20 in the NBA)

Cleveland’s weak spot this year has been defense. Some of that comes from being in cruise control while they pace themselves. They’ll likely look better than “#20” over the next month. Boston’s hustle can only get them so far in this matchup. A Boston edge here isn’t nearly enough to counteract the other side of the floor.

Pace Ranking
Boston: #5
Cleveland: #25

Boston used a frenetic pace to make things interesting into the second quarter the other day. But, it’s not like Cleveland’s stars don’t know how to dunk on fast breaks! And, Boston’s always in danger of wearing themselves out over the course of 48 minutes. The Celtics are significantly outclassed in a halfcourt game by this opponent. They don’t have the legs to avoid that for four quarters.

Against the Spread
Boston: 49-32-1
Cleveland: 39-43

The Celtics were a great story this year. One of a few teams that the market significantly underestimated. Remember this NEXT year…young teams with young head coaches who are TRYING can get great ATS results vs. tankers or veteran teams who are in chill mode. Cleveland’s no longer in chill mode!

Cleveland 113, Boston 100
Shooting Pct: Boston 47%, Cleveland 45%
Three-Pointers: Boston 8/22, Cleveland 13/31
Free Throws: Boston 18/22, Cleveland 26/33
Rebounds: Boston 34, Cleveland 46
Turnovers: Boston 14, Cleveland 12
Vegas Line: Cleveland by 11.5, total of 204

That’s bad news for Boston. They won shooting percentage and made eight treys yet still suffered a double digit loss. Cleveland was able to spread things out in a way that allowed them to own the arc. Yet, the Cavs also marched to the free throw line much more often. Rebounds? A squash for the hosts. Boston’s only hope is to shoot lights out AND catch the Cavs in a cruise control gear because of overconfidence.

Tuesday’s Vegas Line: Cleveland by 11, total of 207

The total has been lifted about 3-4 points because the market hadn’t anticipated such a frantic pace in the opener. No reason to tweak the line because the final scoreboard margin was so close to the projection. Many old-school handicappers will be taking the double digit dog in the bounce back spot. Is that the right play here? Or, will Cleveland be motivated to get this thing over quickly so they can have extra rest time before Round Two?

JIM HURLEY is the man with the answers! You can purchase the final word for Tuesday right here at the website with your credit card (the very best from this game, Washington at Toronto, and Dallas at Houston…plus a full night of Major League Baseball). If you have any questions about extended service, call us in the office at 1-800-323-4453 during normal business hours Tuesday.

Our NBA Playoff previews continue tomorrow. Here’s what’s on tap over the next week…

Wednesday: Portland at Memphis (series discussion and a review of Game One)
Thursday: Golden State at New Orleans Game Three Preview
Friday: Toronto at Washington (series discussion and a review of Games One and Two)
Saturday: Atlanta at Brooklyn (series discussion and a review of Games One and Two)
Sunday: Cleveland at Boston Game Four Preview
Monday: Either Game Four of Memphis/Portland or Game Five of Milwaukee/Chicago
Tuesday: Probably Game Five of the San Antonio/LA Clippers series

After that we’ll focus on the most important and exciting marquee thrillers that wrap up the first round. Then…the intensity kicks up another notch for the second round and beyond. Be with us EVERY DAY during this amazing schedule stretch that features basketball, baseball, and the upcoming Triple Crown horse races. You’ll always GET THE MONEY with JIM HURLEY’S NETWORK!

Be sure to follow:
Jim Hurley on twitter @vsm_hurley
Vegas-Sports-Masters on twitter @vsmasters



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