NBA Betting Preview: Eastern Conference Finals Returns to Boston

May 23, 2018

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Oskeim Sports provides an NBA betting preview on tonight’s Eastern Conference Finals game between the Cavaliers and Celtics.  After reading tonight’s NBA betting preview, be sure to check out Oskeim’s award-winning subscription specials at the online store.

After winning the first two games of the Eastern Conference finals by a combined 39 points, the Celtics traveled to Cleveland and proceeded to lose Games 3 and 4 by a combined 38 points.

Game 4’s tone was set early in the first quarter after the Celtics missed three dunk attempts and Marcus Morris was quickly neutralized by quick whistles.

“Foul trouble was tough, man,” Morris said following Monday’s loss. “I don’t really want to speak on that and get a fine. At the end of the day, I work hard, work my ass off to defend this position. The ticky-tack fouls – it is what it is.” Hampered by fouls, Morris was forced to give up too much space to his primary responsibility, LeBron James.

When the final second ticked off the clock in Game 4, the Celtics had missed fifteen dunk attempts and layups overall. Adding insult to injury, the Cavaliers produced 15 total points directly off Boston’s 15 missed dunks and layups.

Despite all of its miscues, Boston had cut the Cavaliers’ lead to single-digits on six separate occasions in the second half. However, the Celtics were a combined 1-of-6 shooting with three turnovers on its ensuing six possessions after climbing within single-digits.

Boston shot just 27 percent (7-of-26) in the first quarter of Game 4 despite having a number of open looks. Jayson Tatum, who entered this series having scored 20 points in seven straight playoff games, missed eight of his 13 shots from the field in Game 4.

Marcus Smart, who is one of the most important players off the Celtics’ bench, missed six of his final 8 shots in Game 4 and committed five turnovers. Boston also missed nineteen shots in the paint.

The Celtics scored just 104.1 points per 100 possessions in Game 4, posting a 46.5% effective field-goal mark. Boston once again attacked the rim on 39 percent of its possessions but Tristan Thompson played out of his mind. Boston finished 18-of-33 on shots at the rim and drew only three fouls in Game 4.

Cleveland added 6.8 points per 100 possessions in transition and pushed the ball up the floor on 39.5 percent of its offensive rebounds. Interestingly, the Cavaliers ran on 32.4 percent of live offensive rebounds in Game 2 but finished with a negative transition offensive rating.

Despite the perfect storm described above, Boston only trailed 100-93 with 4:29 left in the fourth quarter.  Cleveland and Boston have combined to go 16-1 SU and 12-5 ATS in home playoff games this season so home court advantage clearly means something to both of these teams.

For those bettors who like the Boston Celtics in Game 5:

  • Only 19 of a possible 300 teams have ever overcome a 2-0 deficit in the NBA playoffs;
  • The Celtics are a perfect 37-0 in their postseason history after winning the first two games of a series;
  • Boston is 21-11 ATS this season following a straight-up loss (4-1 ATS this postseason), including 10-3 SU and ATS off a double-digit defeat (3-1 ATS in playoffs);
  • Boston is a perfect 9-0 SU and ATS this postseason;
  • The Celtics are 14-1 ATS as home underdogs or favorites of less than three points with a +9.0 ATS differential;
  • Boston has covered the spread in 14 straight games under the foregoing parameters.

For those bettors who like the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 5:

  • Cleveland’s offense improved by 20.5 points per 100 possessions between Games 1-2 and Games 3-4;
  • Cleveland shot 19.3 percentage points better from beyond the arc in Games 3 and 4;
  • LeBron James shot 57 percent from beyond the arc in Games 3 and 4;
  • The Cavaliers held Boston to 16.2 fewer points per 1oo possessions in Games 3 and 4 compared to the first two games at TD Garden;
  • Cleveland contested 77 percent of the Celtics’ field goal attempts in Games 3 and 4 compared to only 58 percent in Games 1 and 2;
  • Tristan Thompson has been a force in the paint, forcing the Celtics to miss nineteen shots in the paint in Game 4.

Be sure to come back tomorrow as Oskeim Sports may provide an NBA betting preview for Thursday’s Game 5 between the Golden State Warriors and Houston Rockets.  Thanks again for checking out tonight’s NBA betting preview!

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