If it’s LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers, you’re pretty much guaranteed the NBA odds will be too chalky for their Eastern final with the Boston Celtics.
Surprise, surprise: Everyone’s betting on the Cleveland Cavaliers to beat the Boston Celtics this Wednesday (8:30 p.m. ET, TNT) in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals. Well, just about everybody. Our early consensus reports show Cleveland pulling in almost three-fourths of bettors; we contrarily recommended the Celtics as 3.5-point home dogs, and they’re already up to +4 on the NBA odds board as we go to press.
Does all that public pressure on the Cavs translate to the series price? Oh yeah. The fine folks at Bovada have Cleveland pegged at –550 to eliminate the Celtics and advance to their third straight NBA Finals. Sweet baby corn. Did we mention the C’s have home-court advantage in this series? The No. 1 seed in the East? Anyone?
What if we told you FiveThirtyEight has Boston at better than a coin flip to beat the Cavs? Their Elo-based projections give the Celtics a 52-percent chance of winning the series. For the sake of completeness, let’s run that through the SBR Betting Odds Converter... yup, Boston –108 comes out the other side.
Of course Cleveland’s “actual” chances are better than that. They’re healthy, they’ve got Kyle Korver (48.5 percent from downtown), and the Celtics were put through the wringer by the Washington Wizards in the previous round. But have the James Gang really elevated their play that far? Are they that much fresher than Boston?
Free NBA Pick: Celtics +375Best Line Offered: at Bovada
Possibly. But we’re not betting on it here at the ranch. Head coach Brad Stevens and the Celtics did a fine job dealing with Washington; they overcame the return of Ian Mahinmi, who posted a +0.3 BPM in 63 minutes after coming off the injured list – granted, Mahinmi was a black hole on offense (–4.4 OBPM), but he more than made up for it at the other end with rebounds and blocks, and Boston still prevailed. These guys belong in your NBA picks at this bargain price, hands down. Will they win? Heck if we know. Let’s play the games and find out.