Look for the Celtics to keep Game 5 close
Below odds brought to you by BetOnline.
Over/under 214.5 points: Cleveland Cavaliers (-9) at Boston Celtics
After erasing a 21-point deficit to steal Game 3, Boston appeared on their way to do the same in Game 4. Cleveland’s funk spilled over onto Tuesday as they trailed by as many as 16 points on their home floor.
Worse, it seemed like LeBron James wouldn’t be able to pull them out of this hole. For the first time in his career — one that spans 14 seasons and more than 1,200 games — he committed a staggering four fouls before halftime. It extended a slump that began with an 11-point effort in Game 3.
Fear not, though, Kyrie Irving rose to the occasion and turned in one of the best performances of his young career. He blew up for a career playoff high 42 points, with 21 of them coming in the third frame. The points came in a flurry as Irving drove to the basket, almost at will, finishing left handed, with his right, and off the glass each time.
He tweaked his ankle during the game-changing third quarter, almost becoming another superstar on the injury report this postseason. Instead, Irving gutted through the pain and ripped off an incredible run. He shot 9-of-10 from the field and scored the Cavs’ final 14 points in the quarter.
The outburst jolted Cleveland back from the dead. It also gave James enough time to recover from his foul troubles, before he re-found his groove. James ended the night with 34 points, six assists, and five rebounds. He’s now scored at least 30 points in each postseason game this year but two.
For a Cleveland team that’s cruised through the postseason, this may have been the adversity they desperately needed to prepare for a NBA Finals rematch with Golden State. One more win on Thursday will have them knocking on the door.
With that said, this Boston team are far from pushovers. Following two lopsided losses at home, and ounce Isaiah Thomas was ruled out for the series, this team was left for dead by everyone. Instead of mailing it in, the Celtics fought the defending champions tooth and nail.
After halftime of Game 3 and until intermission of Game 4, Boston outscored the Cavs by an astounding 118-89 — that’s impressive any way you slice it. It’s almost like they’re playing better without Thomas to carry them. That’s insane, I know, but hear me out.
When else have you seen Marcus Smart shoot lights out — as in 7-of-10 from three-point land — like he did in Game 3? What about Avery Bradley’s dagger three-pointer to win that same game? Or Jae Crowder stuffing the box score with points and rebounds such as the past two games? All three stepped up in time of need.
Not to say they’re better off without Thomas. But his injury, along with two embarrassing losses, has lit a blazing fire under the Celtics. That’s why we like them as nine-point home underdogs in Game 5. Yes, this series will end on Thursday, but Boston will go down swinging.
Pick: Boston (+9)