Point: Boston Takes Game 1 of East Finals with Defensive Pressure

cavasliers celtics

Doug Upstone

Thursday, May 10, 2018 3:51 PM UTC

Thursday, May. 10, 2018 3:51 PM UTC

Even with the loss of Gordon Hayward, Boston was playing well enough that when the calendar turned to 2018, most thought a Boston vs. Cleveland rematch in the East was inevitable.

Sunday's Game 1: Cleveland Cavaliers at Boston CelticsFree NBA Pick: CelticsBest Line Offered: BetOnline

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Sportsbook Review has commissioned me and popular writer Swinging Johnson to go head-to-head for the rest of the playoffs when it comes to making NBA picks on games. I have read SJ's articles from time to time, and he produces excellent work. But when it comes to beating the NBA odds, do you want him or someone who has picked six straight winners on articles here at SBR? I mean, seriously.

Cleveland and Boston have not played since Feb. 11, and it is safe to say these teams are significantly different three months later. BetOnline has the Cavaliers as a -285 series favorite with the Celtics at +245. Cleveland essentially plays five guys and hopes that either Jeff Green or Tristan Thompson adds something in a game-by-game situation. But as Toronto found out, LeBron James, at least statistically, is like having two players in one.

Celtics head coach Brad Stevens has his team right where he wants them. With no Kyrie Irving, Boston was vulnerable against Milwaukee and won. Against Philadelphia, despite having the home-court series advantage, the C's were underdogs yet won in a mere five games.

I'm all but certain Swinging Johnson will pick Cleveland to win the series and Game 1, but let me explain what he's not thinking about.

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Time for a rematch #CUsRise

🎟️: https://t.co/5Zz3sNaDrn pic.twitter.com/7kWLIixsyW

— Boston Celtics (@celtics) May 10, 2018

Boston's Defense & Home Court Helps Celtics Immensely

Cleveland is not going to take on Victor Oladipo and his merry men (think "Men Without Hats" -- find it on YouTube) or the Toronto chickens, sorry, Raptors. Boston has a group of players wholly committed to playing defense. Who guards LeBron? It will be a gargoyle-ish four-headed monster. Jaylen Brown and Jayson Tatum will both take their turns, but Stevens will not want to use up all their energy on defense, which is where Marcus Morris and Marcus Smart also come into play.

The real key here is making James a high volume shooter and not a facilitator. LeBron, like all the greatest players, will get his points, but if Boston gives help when possible and sticks to really guarding their men, that limits James options as a passer.

The Celtics are 7-0 SU and ATS at home in the postseason, and your less than casual New Englander will be in rare form, loving their underdog bunch. They will not rattle LeBron, but it's about time for Kyle Korver to do his playoff fade, and Al Horford will be a much tougher matchup for Kevin Love.

Boston Overachieving? Yes, But They Have Talent & Grit

Brown, Tatum and Terry Rozier are getting better right before our eyes. But all have amazing talent and maybe only Steve Kerr has a better feel for in-game adjustments then Stevens as an NBA coach.

Also, let's consider what the oddsmakers are thinking. The C's opened as a home underdog in all three games against Philly, yet were sent out as a one-point home favorite over the Cavs. You hearin' me Mr. Johnson?

Read Why Swinging Johnson Hears Doug Well ... And Disagrees
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