NBA Eastern Conference Finals Game Three: #1 Boston Celtics at #2 Cleveland Cavaliers

2017 NBA Playoffs
Eastern Conference Finals Game #3
#1 Boston Celtics at #2 Cleveland Cavaliers
Cavaliers Lead Series 2-0
Sunday, May 21, 2017, 8:30 pm Eastern, TV: TNT
Quicken Loans Arena – Cleveland, Ohio
Opening Line: Cleveland -13 1/2
Current Line: Cleveland -16 1/2
Opening Total: 216 1/2
Current Total: 216
Opening Money Line: Cavaliers -2000 / Celtics +1250
Current Money Line: Cavaliers -3000 / Celtics +1500

The Cavaliers look to take a commanding 3-0 series lead against the Celtics.

Although, the Boston Celtics have lost the first two games at home both in blowout fashion against the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals, a bad situation has gotten even worse. Star guard Isaiah Thomas is out for the rest of the playoffs with a hip injury. The two teams play game three Sunday night in Cleveland. The Cavaliers look to join the Warriors in winning their first 11 playoff games this season.

Boston is coached by Brad Stevens. The Celtics won the Atlantic Division with a 53-29 record and are the #1 seed in the Eastern Conference. Despite losing the first two games at home, Boston beat the #8 seed Chicago Bulls in six games in the first round. The Celtics beat the #4 seed Washington Wizards in seven games in the conference semifinals.  The Celtics won game seven 115-105 in Boston to close out the series. The home team won every game in the series, and six of the seven games were decided by double digits.  The Celtics are 49-46-2 ATS and the total is 48-45-4 this season.

Cleveland is coached by Tyronn Lue. The Cavaliers went 51-31 in the regular season and won the Central Division. Cleveland is the #2 seed in the Eastern Conference. The Cavaliers beat the #7 seed Indiana Pacers in four games in the first round and the #3 seed Toronto Raptors also in four games in the conference semifinals. Cleveland won game four in Toronto 109-102. The Cavaliers are 43-45-4 ATS and the total is 54-37-1 this season.

The Cavaliers won game one 117-104 in Boston, but led by double digits for most of the game. Game two was even worse as they crushed the Celtics 130-86. Cleveland was a 5 point favorite in game two Friday night and the total was 218.5. The Cavaliers led 32-18 at the end of the first and out scored the Celtics 40-13 in the second to lead 72-31 at halftime. Thomas didn’t play in the second half with the hip injury. The Cavaliers expanded the lead to 103-57 by the end of the third before pulling their starters in the fourth quarter.

Cleveland shot 48/85 from the field including 19/39 from three point range. The Cavaliers made 15/23 free throws. Cleveland had 52 rebounds, 28 assists, 10 steals, 6 blocks and 12 turnovers. The Cavaliers had 24 fast break points and 40 points in the paint. Boston shot 32/86 from the field including 8/27 from three point range. The Celtics made 14/15 free throws. Boston had 48 rebounds, 23 assists, 21 turnovers, 7 steals and 4 blocks. The Celtics had 11 fast break points and 42 points in the paint.

LeBron James had 30 points, 7 assists, 4 rebounds and 4 steals. Kyrie Irving had 23 points and 3 assists. Kevin Love had 21 points, 12 rebounds, and 2 assists. Richard Jefferson had 10 points and 5 rebounds. Jaylen Brown had 19 points, 4 rebounds and 2 steals for the Celtics. Avery Bradley had 13 points, and 3 rebounds. Al Horford had 11 points, 5 rebounds, 2 assists and 2 blocks. Isaiah Thomas had 2 points, 6 assists and 3 rebounds before the injury.

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Boston is outscoring teams 108-105 this season. The Celtics are #7 in scoring. Boston is shooting 45.4% from the field and 35.9% from 3 point range. Boston make 80.7% of their free throws and are #3 in that category. Opponents are shooting 45% from the field and 33.2% from 3 point range. The Celtics are #2 in 3 point defense and #9 in field goal defense. Boston averages 42 rebounds per game and opponents average 44.5 per game. The Celtics are #25 or worse in both categories. Boston averages 24.4 assists, 13.2 turnovers, 8.2 steals and 3.5 blocks per game.

Isaiah Thomas averages 28.9 points, 2.7 rebounds and 5.9 assists per game. The MVP candidate is still grieving after the loss of his sister in a car accident the day before the Bulls series started. Avery Bradley averages 16.3 points, 6.1 rebounds, 2.2 assists and 1.2 steals per game.  Al Horford averages 14 points, 6.8 rebounds, 5 assists and 1.3 blocks per game. Jae Crowder averages 13.9 points, 5.8 rebounds and 2.2 assists per game. Marcus Smart averages 10.6 points, 3.9 rebounds, 4.6 assists and 1.6 steals per game. Kelly Olynyk averages 9 points, 4.8 rebounds and 2 assists per game. Jaylen Brown, Amir Johnson, Gerald Green, Terry Rozier, Jonas Jerebko, and Tyler Zeller will also get minutes in the rotation.

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Cleveland is outscoring teams 110-107 this season. Cleveland is #4 in scoring but #20 in points allowed.  The Cavaliers are shooting 47% from the field including 38.4% from three point range. Cleveland is in the top five in both categories. The Cavaliers make 74.8% of their free throws and are #23 in that category. Opponents are shooting 45.8% from the field and 36.1% from three point range. Cleveland averages 43.8 rebounds per game and opponents average 44.2 per game. The Cavaliers average 22.7 assists, 13.7 turnovers, 6.6 steals and 4 blocks per game.

LeBron James averages 26.4 points, 8.6 rebounds, 8.7 assists and 1.2 steals per game. James is having another MVP quality season. Kyrie Irving averages 25.2 points, 3.2 rebounds, 5.8 assists and 1.2 steals per game. Kevin Love averages 19 points, 11.1 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game. He missed around 20 games with a knee injury and several games down the stretch for rest. Kyle Korver averages 10.7 points and 2.8 rebounds per game. Channing Frye averages 9.1 points and 3.9 rebounds per game. J.R. Smith averages 8.6 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game. Richard Jefferson, Tristan Thompson, Iman Shumpert, Deron Williams, and Derrick Williams  will also get minutes in the rotation. Kay Felder is out with a leg injury. Edy Tavares is out with a hand injury.

Boston is 5-2 ATS in road games, and against teams with winning home records, 7-3 after a double digit loss, 9-4 overall and against Eastern Conference teams, 0-4 in Conference Finals games, and 0-5 after allowing more than 125 points. The under is 11-5 in this series recently. The road team is 9-2-1 ATS in this series recently. The Celtics are 3-1-1 ATS in Cleveland.

Cleveland is 7-0-1 ATS after a straight up win, overall, against Eastern Conference teams and after scoring 100 points or more, 5-0-1 after a cover, against teams with winning records, and against Atlantic teams, 4-0 in conference final games, 3-0-1 after a double digit win and on one day rest, 5-2 against teams with winning road records, and 1-3-1 in Sunday games. The Cavaliers are  3-1-1 ATS in this series recently and were favored in each of those contests.

While the Celtics will be without their best player and just lost by 44 points, 16.5 points seems absurd in a conference final game. Don’t get me wrong the Cavaliers will win this game easily, but the supersized point spread leaves open the possibility of a back door cover in garbage time.

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