NBA Eastern Conference Finals Picks: Celtics vs Cavaliers Game 4

Celtics vs Cavaliers

Jason Lake

Monday, May 22, 2017 2:12 PM GMT

The Boston Celtics didn’t just beat the NBA odds Sunday night – they beat the Cleveland Cavaliers, too. And they should still have betting value for Tuesday’s Game 4.

Here’s one thing we can say for certainty about the 2017 NBA Playoffs: The Cleveland Cavaliers will not go 16-0. They finally dropped their first game of the postseason, falling 111-108 to the Celtics (+16 away) after coughing up a 21-point lead. It wasn’t just the fact that Cleveland lost, though – it was the way they lost that has people smacking their heads in disbelief. LeBron James laid an egg, scoring just 11 points on 4-of-13 shooting.

What can we say – regression happens. But James has laid very few eggs in his career, and his chances of getting cracked again in Game 4 (8:30 p.m. ET, TNT) are pretty remote. The Celtics have opened as 15-point puppies on Tuesday’s NBA odds board; if they want to tie this series going back to Boston, they’d better hatch up something quickly.
 

Heart Smart

This might look like a strong bounce-back opportunity for LeBron and the Cavaliers, but hold the phone: Just about all of his teammates played exceptionally well. The Cavs shot 16-of-39 (41 percent) from downtown, or 16-of-35 (45.7 percent) if you take James out of the equation. Kevin Love was 7-of-13 just by himself.

The Celtics were accurate from long range, too, hitting 18 of their 40 trey attempts (45 percent), including 7-of-10 from new starting point guard Marcus Smart. He’s taking over for the injured Isaiah Thomas, and who knows, this could be the start of something special. Don’t forget, Smart (–0.3 BPM) was considered a can’t-miss prospect heading into the 2014 Draft before slipping to Boston at No. 6. He might not hit 70 percent of his 3-pointers Tuesday night, but his defense should still be there.
 

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Y'all say what u want about Marcus Smart but that kid makes winning plays every game in the 4th.

— Chauncey Billups (@1MrBigShot) May 22, 2017
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Overall, both teams ended up playing close enough to reasonable expectations, so nothing much has changed for Game 4 – other than James presumably being extra-extra-motivated. Remember that time he scored eight points against the Dallas Mavericks in Game 4 of the 2011 NBA Finals? He played better in Game 5, but his Miami Heat still lost the title to Dallas. Basketball is a team sport is what I’m saying. Let’s keep Boston in our NBA picks for now, and may the ovoid be with you.