NBA Playoff Pick: Cavaliers vs Celtics Game 5 Odds and Prediction
Kyrie Irving bailed LeBron James out in game four of Cleveland’s Eastern Conference Finals against the Boston Celtics on Tuesday night. With King James dealing with four early fouls, Irving took over and fought with the other Cavs to storm back from a 10-point hole.
The Boston Celtics had us fooled for a second there. The miracle that happened in game two made us think twice about knee-jerk picking Cleveland win come back even harder to win game four, while the Celtics even opened game four with more teasing, taking a 29-19 lead.
The mystique lasted until the second half, as Boston held strong in the second quarter and entered the break up by 10. Irving combined with LeBron James to beat the Celtics by themselves in the second half, putting p 60 combined points to Boston’s 50, as a whole.
The same issues that hurt Boston in the past popped up again, with the Cavs getting inside and scoring at will (59% shooting from the floor), which understandably opened up their outside game and led to 45.5% shooting from long range. Cleveland’s game plan is never intense or overly complex, but the Celtics just couldn’t hang on and now the allure of the magic we saw briefly for one game has mostly faded.
Cleveland returns to TD Garden seeking their third road victory of this series on Thursday night, and if they get it they will have officially punched their ticket into the 2017 NBA Finals. That feels like an inevitable event at this point, but the question we have to ask ourselves is if the Celtics have enough in them to prolong this thing just a little more.
The writing seems to be on the wall here for the Celtics. They do get one last gasp in front of their home crowd and technically, this isn’t over yet. After all, Boston is facing the very team that came back from a 3-1 hole in the NBA Finals last year and we did see the Golden State Warriors do the same thing in the Western Conference Finals a year ago.
No, it’s not impossible, but it really isn’t likely.
The annoying thing for Celtics fans is this really could be a tied series right now. Isaiah Thomas is done for the year and Boston shouldn’t be able to hang with the Cavs offensively, but they were right there in game four and it was their defense that ended up failing them the most.
Seriously, they have Marcus Smart and Avery Bradley both logging 38+ minutes and they still let Kyrie Irving take this game over and put up 42 points? They didn’t even make him sweat in the process, as Irving carried this team while it was struggling and connected on 15 of 22 shots. That’s NBA Finals-Kyrie right there, to be sure, but Boston had to defend him in this game more than ever, and they literally could not stop him.
That was Boston’s chance, if we’re being frank. They had the Cavs on the ropes, LeBron James was in foul trouble and if you rotate your two elite on ball defenders and simply slow Kyrie Irving down, you might walk back into TD Garden with a legit shot at taking a 3-2 lead and shocking the world.
As annoying as Boston’s defensive collapse was, however, the harsh reality is they didn’t have the goods to keep up with Cleveland offensively and it’s tough to expect anything different in game five. Marcus Smart predictably reverted to the trash shooter he normally is (1 for 9 from the floor) and nobody on Boston’s bench could muster more than 9 points.
It wasn’t a terrible performance as a whole for the Celtics, but the defense wasn’t good enough where it mattered most and it was an incomplete one, overall.
That’s pretty much this series in a nutshell, as Boston has proven they can somewhat hang with the Cavs, but they’re not ready to dethrone them just yet. Further regression can probably be expected going into game five, as the Celtics start to realize the dream is dying and the Cavaliers prepare to blow the door off the hinges en route to a third straight trip to the Finals.
It was always going to be the Cavs and Warriors again and Boston needn’t take much shame in that. The Celtics do hold friendly value (+420 Moneyline at Bovada), but they’re not winning this game and the 10-point spread might be too rich to overcome. Ultimately, Cleveland has more experience, more talent and they know how to close. Look for them to do that in a big way – in front of Boston’s home crowd, no less.