Is a sweep on the horizon in Eastern Conference Final?
The Cavs are just too good for the East
By Eric Uribe
Odds courtesy of BetOnline.
Over/under 219.5 points: Cleveland Cavaliers (-5.5) at Boston Celtics
LeBron James popping off for 38 points, nine rebounds, and seven assists in Game 1 comes as little surprise to anyone at this point. But Kevin Love dropping a playoff career-high 32 points, along with 12 boards? That came out of nowhere and helped Cleveland dominate Boston 117-104 to open the Eastern Conference Final.
The score isn’t nearly indicative of how much of a blowout this was. The reigning champions led by as many as 26 points at one point. The scary part? They can play a whole lot better.
Tristan Thompson dominated the glass, notching six offensive rebounds. However, the Cavs won the rebounding battle by a mere 53-51. Considering Boston’s biggest weakness is winning on the glass, the margin could’ve been a lot more worse.
The Cavaliers have been hot from beyond the arc all postseason long, but shot just 11-of-31 in Game 1 — with six of those makes coming from Love. Matter of fact, they didn’t hit their first three-pointer until 20-plus minutes into the game.
Moreover, Kyrie Irving had another sluggish game. He seems to be the only Cav that hasn’t flipped the playoff switch yet. Irving finished with 11 points on 4-of-11 shooting and six assists. Head coach Tyronn Lue should make getting Irving involved a priority in Game 2, because Boston doesn’t pose much of a challenge elsewhere.
From top to bottom, the Celtics are severely inferior to Cleveland. It was most obvious with their best player, Isaiah Thomas. The Cavs suffocated him early, which trickled down the entire offense. Boston had a meager 39 points in the first half, while their second-half flurry was mostly garbage-time points.
At times during Game 1, Thomas was guarded by James and the size difference was almost laughable. Thomas ended the game with 19 points on 7-of-19 shooting.
The only real positive we can find for the Celtics in Game 1 was Jayden Crowder. The 20-year-old tallied a team-high 21 points on 8-of-13 shooting. After him? The cupboard is bare.
Yes, Cleveland can play better on Friday, but so can Boston. The Celtics can shoot better than 12-of-38 from downtown. They can make the layups they missed in Game 1. And they can certainly earn more free throws than the lowly 18 in the opener.
Nonetheless, the disparity between these two teams is too large. The Cavs have won an astonishing 12 straight postseason games, dating to last year’s NBA Finals comeback. With the Warriors on track to sweep a Kawhi Leonard-less Spurs team, Cleveland knows they need to rest up before an NBA Finals rematch.
Pick: Cleveland (-5.5)
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