Counterpoint: Cavs' Defense, Rebounding Too Strong For Celtics

Tuesday, May 22, 2018 4:30 PM UTC

Tuesday, May. 22, 2018 4:30 PM UTC

Home court has ruled in the East finals. Will the trend continue in Game 5 on Wednesday in Boston, or will there be an interruption that will change how this series plays out?

<h2 style="text-align:center"><a href="" title="Cavaliers vs. Celtics">NBA Wednesday:</a></h2><h2 style="text-align:center"><a href="" title="Cavaliers vs. Celtics">Cavaliers (60-37 SU, 38-57-2 ATS) vs. Celtics (65-33 SU, 59-35-4 ATS)</a></h2><h2 style="text-align:center">Free NBA Pick: Cavaliers -1</h2><h2 style="text-align:center">Best Line Offered: <a href=";book=5dimes" rel="nofollow" title="Top Rated Sportsbook">5Dimes</a></h2><p>[/]{"component":"oddswidget", "eventId":3468855, "sportsbooksIds":[19,1252,1275,180,93], "LineTypeId":1, "PeriodTypeId":1}[/]</p><p>Cleveland and Boston are tied at 2 in the East finals and the pressure reverts to the Celtics. Game 4 was more of the same basically boring basketball with the Cavaliers ahead 12 to 16 points most of the contest. Though Boston did threaten to cover a few times, they never did. SBR colleague Swinging Johnson did prove correct; I might have gotten too tricky with my Boston pick with the points. That ended my stretch of domination over him. Time to start another.</p><p>The <a href="" target="_blank" title="NBA Odds">NBA odds board</a> for Game 5 on Wednesday opened with the Celtics as one-point favorites. Cleveland's more veteran team made Brad Stevens' squad young team look that way the last two games. For my <a href="" target="_blank" title="Free NBA Picks">NBA picks</a>, does it make sense to back Boston, which is 9-0 SU and ATS at home in the playoffs? Or has Tyronn Lue's Cavs solved the C's?</p><p> </p><h2>Has Lue Figured Out Boston's Defense?</h2><p>Since Game 1, when they shot a putrid 36 percent, Cleveland has shot the ball better in each contest. In Games 2-4, the Cavs connected on 46.2, 48.7 and 50.8 percent, respectively. It stood to reason the James Gang would shoot better at home, but it is has been how they accomplished this that matters.</p><p>The entire Cleveland squad make a barrage of threes (17) in their first home game of the series. But two days later they only made eight, four below their average of 12. Because Boston likes to switch everything on defense and work traps below the free-throw line extended, Cavaliers players have forced (and waited for) switches, leaving the ball-handler as the taller or quicker player. They continually took advantage of this. And when the double-team came, the abandoned Cavs' players went to the clear spot on the floor for an open shot or was cutting to the basket.</p><p>This forces Stevens' hand and does Boston switch less? The Celtics generated 18 turnovers in last contest and still lost by nine.</p><p> </p><h2>Cleveland's Defense Has Made Celtics' Shooters Defensive</h2><p>Since connecting on more than 51 percent of attempts in the series opener, Boston has shot just more than 41 percent. The Cavaliers have made a concerted effort to play up on Celtics players above the three-point line and if they pick up their dribble, get chest to chest. This has led to more shot clocks winding down on Boston shooters and an increase of more "hope" shots than confident strokes.</p><p>[/]{"component": "embedHTML", "code": "&lt;blockquote class=\"twitter-tweet\" data-lang=\"en\"&gt;&lt;p lang=\"en\" dir=\"ltr\"&gt;.&lt;a href=\"\"&gt;@RealTristan13&lt;/a&gt; was the definition of &lt;a href=\";amp;ref_src=twsrc%5Etfw\"&gt;#WhateverItTakes&lt;/a&gt; with a game-high 12 rebounds, one steal and two blocks in Game 4.&lt;br /&gt;&lt;br /&gt;BREAKING DOWN THE W: &lt;a href=\"\"&gt;;/a&gt; &lt;a href=\"\"&gt;;/a&gt;&lt;/p&gt;— Cleveland Cavaliers (@cavs) &lt;a href=\"\"&gt;May 22, 2018&lt;/a&gt;&lt;/blockquote&gt;\n&lt;script async src=\"\" charset=\"utf-8\"&gt;&lt;/script&gt;\n"}[/]</p><p>After Game 4, Boston players professed they have no worries because they missed a lot of attempts near the basket they normally make. While this might be true, doesn't contested shots mean the degree of difficulty is higher? That is what Cleveland has accomplished on defense.</p><p>The other factor that cannot be ignored is rebounding. Since posting a -8 in rebound margin in the opener, Cleveland is +20. That leads to more put-backs or possible fastbreak opportunities for the Cavaliers.</p><p>Since it was my game to choose first, I know Swinging Johnson was thrilled to have Boston playing at home and feels I made a miscue. However, here is what I'm seeing. Cleveland has more experienced championship quality players who have stepped up on defense and are dominating the glass. After four games, LeBron knows everything about any potential defender and when doubled, where to find the open player on his team.</p><p>At the end of Game 5, expect SJ to be muttering to himself, "How in the world did Boston lose?" (While shaking his head slowly back and forth in disbelief. Which leads to TV remote going airborne.)</p><h2 style="text-align:center"><a href="">Read why Swinging Johnson doesn't mind sitting on a bulging wallet.</a></h2>
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