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Will Cavs Have Some Rust in Game 1?

Updated: .May 17, 2017

By Charles Jay

The Cleveland Cavaliers have gotten through the first two rounds of the playoffs playing the bare minimum of games, and so they are well-rested as they head into the Eastern Conference finals against a Boston Celtics team that went the full seven-game route to defeat the Washington Wizards. These teams get together at 8:30 PM ET on Wednesday at the TD Garden in Boston. America’s Bookie customers will have the opportunity to place wagers after the game has tipped off, using two different “Live Betting” options in their sportsbook interface.

Cleveland has made it look easy, at least in the second series against the Toronto Raptors, and it didn’t hurt that Kyle Lowry came down with an injury. But this team has been hard to stop, especially from beyond the three-point arc, where they had hit 43.4% of their shots as a team in the two series combined. So obviously an area of concentration for the Celtics will be bringing that kind of percentage down to earth, and they were pretty good at it during the regular season, limiting opposing squads to just 33.2% from downtown.

Boston had a wild series that was highlighted by long streaks; Washington got off to a few of them, including the first game of the series, as the Celtics trailed by a 16-0 score but then came back to win by double digits. As Boston clinched the series, Kelly Olynyk came up huge, with 26 points, and that gives you an idea of the kind of people Boston can pull off its bench. Just like Cleveland, they can play with small and bigger lineups, but they could suffer on the offensive glass, as Tristan Thompson is relentless in that area of the game.

In the NBA playoff betting odds posted on this game, Cleveland is the favorite on the road:

Cleveland Cavaliers -4
Boston Celtics +4

Over 219.5 points -110
Under 219.5 points -110

Cleveland won three of the four meetings during the regular season, and there were times when they just murdered the Celtics with second-shot opportunities. Thompson has 39 offensive rebounds in eight playoff games thus far, so he presents even more of a problem then Boston had to face with the likes of Robin Lopez early on in the series against the Chicago Bulls. Naturally what the Cavaliers will try to do is look for the long-range jumper first, and this will happen whether they have the first or second unit on the floor. Of course, Kyle Korver is a vaunted three-point shooter, hitting 48.5% so far in the playoffs. Channing Frye is 55% accurate, and Deron Williams, the backup point guard who was acquired during the season, is 60%. What’s so difficult about Cleveland is that even if you shut all of that down, you have to deal with LeBron James and the kind of isolation plays for which the Celtics may not have a defensive answer.

But what the Cavs can do with all of the shooters is stretch a defense, and that will make it harder for Boston to “hide” Isaiah Thomas on the defensive end of the floor. Thomas, at 5-9, is not the guy you want to give big responsibility to on the stop end, but you can guarantee that James and head coach Tyronn Lue have talked about how they can exploit him.

The Cavaliers have enough matchup advantages to win this series, and indeed they are priced at -725 to advance to the NBA Finals. However, they have had eight full days off since defeating the Raptors, and this will be only their ninth game in a 34-day stretch. You don’t have to have a great memory to recall what happened with the Golden State Warriors as they came out for Game 1 against San Antonio, as their rust showed in their long-distance shooting. It might take a while for the Cavaliers to find their range, so perhaps we give the Celtics a fighting chance in the first quarter of this one, taking a point and a half at -115, as the Charles Jay/America’s Bookie Challenge continues in the Eastern Conference finals.

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