NBA Pick on Cavaliers, Celtics to go ‘under’ Total in Game 3

LT Profits Sports Group

Thursday, April 23, 2015 1:45 PM UTC

Thursday, Apr. 23, 2015 1:45 PM UTC

Each day the LT Profits Sports Group seeks out a total that simply does not add up and therefore offers the most value that day. Here is their Total Value Play of the Day for Thursday.


After the first two games of this NBA Playoff first round series were played at entirely different tempos, expect a mostly half-court game Thursday night when the second seeded Cleveland Cavaliers (55-29, 22-19 away) this time pay a visit to the seventh seeded Boston Celtics (40-44, 21-20 home) for Game 3 from TD Garden in Boston, MA at 7:05 ET in a game televised nationally on TNT, with the Cavaliers leading the series 2-0.

The posted total at Bet365 is 204 for this contest with the current odds on the ‘under’ set at -110.

Cavaliers Won First Two Games at Home
Despite being seeded second in the weaker Eastern Conference, the Cavaliers were the favorites on the Future odds to win the NBA Championship when these playoffs began, so it should come as no surprise that they have opened up a 2-0 lead in this series by winning the first two games at home. However, the two wins could not have come any differently stylistically.

You see, very little defense was played in Game 1 when Cleveland was the winning NBA pick 113-100, with the Cavaliers covering a 11½-point favorites on the NBA odds. Game 2 however was played at more of a half-court style with the Cavs prevailing 99-91, although that tempo did allow the Celtics to cover the point spread as 11-point underdogs. So which style of play will be dictated in Game 3?

Defense Keyed Late Boston Playoff Push
Well, with this being a desperation game for the Celtics as they look to avoid going down 0-3, we expect a tempo closer to Game 2 as Boston knows that it would be in trouble in a high-scoring affair, lacking the firepower to keep pace with all of the Cleveland weapons. But if they can slow the pace down again, they can at least stay in contact like they did on Tuesday and maybe this time be able to possibly steal a win late now playing at home.

Besides, Boston has a defensive-minded coach in Brad Stevens, and although he is probably disappointed in his team finishing 21st in the league in points against during the regular season at 101.2 per game, he must be encouraged by the improvement of the defense late in the year as it was a major factor on the Celtics coming back for the dead with their late charge to claim a playoff spot as a seventh seed.

In fact the Celtics allowed 93 points or less three times in their last five regular season games while allowing an average of just 92.8 points in those five contests, and although they allowed 99 points in a Game 2 that was played more at their preferred tempo, they did commendably hold the Cavaliers to 44.7 percent shooting as Cleveland’s point output was padded by going 24-for-26 from the foul line.

Cleveland Feeling a Bit Content?
And with the Cavaliers knowing that they are in control of this series, there may be no reason from them to extend more energy than necessary, so do not expect them to try and force the pace if the Celtics are successful in turning this into a half-court contest. After all, it is not as if the Cavaliers play fast anyway as they finished the regular year just 25th in the league in pace ratting.

That makes it less surprising that the ‘under’ went 3-1 in the four regular season meetings between these clubs before splitting the totals in the first two games. Also, all Cleveland games this season are averaging a combined 201.8 points, which is less than many would expect and makes this posted total seem a tad inflated, especially in light of how the pace of Game 2 played out.

Surprisingly Good ‘under’ Record for LeBron & Co.
Then again, playing to inflated totals is nothing new for the Cavaliers this year as the ‘under’ actually went 48-33-1, 59.3 percent in all of their regular season games! Granted the Celtics were negligibly more of an ‘over’ team as it went 42-39-1 in all of their games, but that started to change late in the year with the defense playing better.

Again, look for this tempo to resemble Game 2, so go ‘under’ the rather high posted total when Cleveland travels to Boston for Game 3 on Thursday.

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NBA Pick: Cavaliers, Celtics ‘under’ 204 (-110)

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