Wednesday’s game between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics could decide the top seed in the Eastern Conference. But who belongs in our basketball picks?
It’s only the most important game of the regular season. So what’s taking so long with the NBA odds? The Cleveland Cavaliers visit the Boston Celtics Wednesday night (8:00 p.m. ET, ESPN), and they’re tied for first in the Eastern Conference with just five games left to go, so hey, no biggie. I can wait – this being late Tuesday night here at the ranch. You probably have the odds already as you’re reading this, lucky you.
No sweat. I’ve taken a look at some of the very early lines from across the pond, and there’s one book out there with this game on the board: Cleveland is an 11-10 home dog, and the Celtics are 10-13 road faves. Oh, those crazy Brits with their UK odds. What they’re saying is the Cavaliers are 2-point underdogs against the spread. You know they spell tire with a y, right?
Any way you slice it, those odds are very kind to Cleveland (50-27 SU, 34-40-3 ATS). FiveThirtyEight projects the Cavs as 6.5-point puppies in this matchup, and the Celtics (50-27 SU, 38-37-2 ATS) have done a much better job of covering the spread this year. Still not profitable, mind you, not when you factor in the vigorish.
But maybe, just maybe, it’s time put the Cavs in our NBA picks. We’ve been raking them over the coals all year for not playing up to inflated public expectations, but they spent the first half the season without J.R. Smith (35.8 percent from long range), and 11 of the last 14 games without Kyle Korver (48.2 percent). That was until Korver made his return in Tuesday’s game against the Orlando Magic; Korver went 3-of-5 downtown in just 12 minutes as Cleveland pulled away in the second half to win 122-102 as 11-point home faves. Smith was 5-of-8 from downtown.
This looks like a sneaky “buy low” opportunity on the Cavaliers. They have plenty of flaws, especially on defense, but they make up for it by chucking more 3-pointers than anyone else in the East – Boston included. Now that Korver and Smith are both in the lineup, they’ll shoot even more threes, and more accurately. Then LeBron James (+8.2 BPM) will do that thing he does. Get ready for some playoff-level basketball at the Q.
Free NBA Pick: Cavs +2*No lines available due to injuries (keep checking Cavs-Celtics odds for updates)