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Cleveland Cavaliers poised for another Boston Celtics mutilation
Cavs won't offer any mercy to Celtics
By Dan Favale
All odds brought to you by Topbet.
The sportsbooks aren't messing around anymore. They gave the Boston Celtics a puncher's chance in each of the first two games, offering up modestly sized spreads in the favor of the Cleveland Cavaliers.
So much for that happening again.
In Game 1, the Cavaliers led the Celtics by as many as 28 points. They would eventually win by 13.
On Friday night, in Game 2, with revenge on Boston's mind, Cleveland led by as many as 50 points, before securing a 130-86 win—the largest margin of victory in Eastern Conference Finals history.
So, really, why should the sportsbooks be expecting a more competitive matchup in Game 3?
Sure, the Celtics have missed a ton of wide-open shots. They're putting down just 32 percent of their threes when there's no Cavaliers defender within four feet of them. That's an awful rate. It's almost encouragingly bad, because there's no way they can sustain that level of terrible shooting when they're being given so many uncontested bunnies.
But the Celtics won't all of a sudden be able to compete in this series because they start making their threes. We can't even be sure they're going to start—not after Isaiah Thomas left Game 2 with a hip injury.
Some initially thought the Celtics pulled him as a precaution. He's been banged up, both emotionally and physically, all postseason. There was no sense expending more of his energy in the final two frames of a game Boston was never going to win.
Reports since, however, have deemed the injury "significant." And if that's the case, Thomas may not play in Game 3. And if he can't go, the Celtics are doomed, even more so than they already are.
The offensive splits without him on the court were good before this series. But the Celtics won't come close to competing on that end if he's not at his peak. They need him to collapse the Cavaliers' defense with drives and create high-quality looks for what we thought was a cast of shooters that was deep enough. He's a liability on defense, but the Celtics can't defend the Cavaliers anyway. They don't have an answer when Cleveland runs out LeBron at the 5, and their personnel, as we've seen by now, can't hang with his drives when his teammates are hitting threes off his passes.
So the Celtics need their offense to be on point. And it's not. And that won't change without Thomas. Forget him just playing. They need him to be himself. Even then, if he's ready to rock for Game 3, the Cavaliers have been trapping him almost at half-court. The Celtics aren't setting screens quick enough to free him, and when they have someone else handle the ball, they're committing too many turnovers.
This series is over. Done with. The end. Betting on 14.5-point spreads in the playoffs stinks, but the Celtics have left us no choice.
The Pick: Cleveland Cavaliers (-14.5)
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