NBA Playoffs Vegas Online Sports Betting & Predictions Sunday May 13th, 2018
The Rematch Begins as Cleveland Visits Boston in Game One of Conference Finals
Last year at this time the Cleveland Cavaliers were firing on all cylinders and made short work of the Boston Celtics. They eliminated the upstarts in five games and the average margin of victory in their wins was 25.8 points.
Lest anyone forget, the Celtics were the higher seed last year as well, but were no match come playoff time. But the core of both teams have changed significantly since then. Most notably Kyrie Irving switched teams, but a season ending injury means he’ll be rooting for Boston on the sidelines.
This Celtics team lost its two best players brought in to counter Cleveland due to injury when we add in Gordon Heyward. But with a core of rookie Jayson Tatum, a much-improved Jaylen Brown, and an emerging Terry Rozier the team is relying on a different and more athletic corps to stop Cleveland in its tracks.
Meanwhile in Cleveland you still have LeBron James and Kevin Love plus Kyle Korver and Tristan Thompson -playing in a reduced role. But everyone else is new to the team. The team had two makeovers this season, trading away six players at the trade deadline and bringing in four new ones to start an engine that was sputtering.
The experiment was in great danger of blowing up in round one as the Indiana Pacers played them almost equally before eventually falling in game seven. But their old foes the Toronto Raptors were just what the doctor ordered in round two as the team found its mojo. They dismantled the top seeds, sweeping them in four, punctuated by a 35-point win in the final game.
Love rediscovered his game after struggling mightily against the Pacers. He averaged 20.5 PPG and 11.5 RPG while James was his usual dominant self putting up 34.0 PPG, 11.3 APG and 8.3 RPG against the Raptors. That top-heavy scoring allowed the supporting cast to play their roles to perfection.
Boston in the meanwhile was at least as impressive in eliminating the heavily favored Philadelphia 76ers in five games in the last series. The games were much closer, with three of their wins decided by five points or less, but the team simply came through down the stretch when it really counted.
Tatum found another gear, averaging 23.6 PPG and Rozier has looked good playing Irving’s role as he put up 19.0 PPG and 7.2 RPG.
Cleveland is -1.5 point favorites in the opener and this is the first time these teams have faced off with their respective new looks, so it’s tricky to know what to expect. One thing that seems certain is that Cleveland with all its experience should thrive in crunch time and that gives them the edge in the opener. The Pick: Cavaliers 108-103.