Categories: NBA

Celtics vs Cavaliers – NBA Game 3 Pick for May 19th

In a rather stunning scenario, the Boston Celtics have embarrassed the Cleveland Cavaliers this series and are in a position to do the unthinkable – prevent LeBron James from getting to his 9th straight NBA Finals. In the first two games, Boston has dominated the Cavs by an average of 107.5 ppg to 88.5 ppg. And, it only gets worse from there for Cavs fans.

In the history of the NBA, teams that have gone up 2-0 in a best-of-seven series have won 93% of the time (281-19). The only reason I haven’t completely written off the Cavaliers is because of LeBron James. He has been two of those 19 times that a team down 0-2 has come back to win the series. In 2007, he led the Cavs back from down 0-2 to defeat the Pistons in the Eastern Conference Finals.  James also did it in the 2016 NBA finals against the Warriors.

So, with LeBron James, there’s always a chance. But, let’s be realistic here, that “chance” is small and it’s going to take a superhuman feat by James to carry his team to victory this series. King James has a chance in Game 3 to get the Cavs back into this series. But, it’s going to take the entire team to do so, as Boston has proven they can win despite LeBron performing well. In Game 2, LeBron scored 42 points, but the Cavs still lost by 13. And, in Game 1, when LeBron played poorly, the Cavs lost by 25.

For the Cavs to win Game 3, they’re going to need LeBron to hit his postseason averages and for several players to step up. James has averaged 33.4 ppg, 9.2 rpg, and 9.2 apg in the playoffs. The Cavs will need every one of those points, rebounds and assists to have a chance in Game 3. Additionally, they will need Hill, Smith and Korver to all step up.

J.R. Smith has scored 2 ppg this series with 2 rpg, 1 apg, and a 12.5 FG%. Kyle Korver has averaged 8 ppg and has only connected on 3 of 10 from 3 pointers. George Hill has scored 4 ppg and has tallied just 1 assist so far. Not including LeBron, the other starting players and Korver have totaled 67 points in two games and that’s largely due to Kevin Love averaging 19.5 ppg. It’s clear, Cleveland needs these role players to score more points.

Another reason why Cleveland has a chance in Game 3 is because Boston has been vulnerable on the road in the playoffs with a 1-4 record. The Cavs have gone 6-1 at home during the playoffs. So, returning home for Game 3 is definitely a boost for Cleveland.

Boston has played solid basketball at both ends of the floor. Offensively they’re getting double digit contributions from a half dozen players a night. Their bench has even produced in key stretches. Defensively, they’ve shut down Cleveland and they make the Cavs fight for every single point. I don’t expect that effort to just disappear in Game 3. Let’s not forget that Cleveland embarrassed Boston last year in the playoffs and the Celtics would love to repay the favor.

I do believe the Cavs will win Game 3, but then again I, along with most pundits picked the Cavs to win Game 1 and then Game 2. With that said, even though I do see Cleveland winning Game 3, I don’t believe they will cover a 6.5 point spread.

Boston is 7-1 ATS in their last 8 games, 16-8 ATS in their last 24 road games, 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games against the Cavs, and 4-0-1 ATS in their last 5 games at Cleveland. The Celtics are also 24-8 ATS as an underdog, 11-2 ATS on Saturdays, 5-1 ATS on 3 or more days rest, and 11-3 ATS in the playoffs.

Cleveland is 21-48 ATS as a favorite, 14-32 ATS in home games, 2-11 ATS on Saturdays, 5-18 ATS following a loss by 10 or more points, and 4-10 ATS in their last 14 games.

Take the Celtics and the points. I expect a close, hard fought win by Cleveland, but Boston to still cover.

Bet: Celtics +6.5 points (-115)

Rick Rockwell

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Rick Rockwell

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