NBA: Boston no longer invincible

NBA: Boston no longer invincible

Who would have thought the Boston Celtics would have been the team to hold up the proceedings


2008-05-06

Who would have thought the Boston Celtics would have been the team to hold up the proceedings, becoming the last team to reach the conference semi-final round? Still, they did advance, and will go into their series against Cleveland as a hefty -800 favorite. Game 1 is Tuesday night.

The dynamics of a Cleveland and Celtics series are exhilarating, though for the most part flawed, as was shown in each team's first round matchups. Boston's a huge betting favorite to win the series, but should they be?

Sportsbook.com has Boston as -800 favorite to win series over the Cavaliers, with five games the most popular exact bet at 3-2 odds. The Celtics needed seven games to dismiss of what appears to be up and coming Atlanta franchise, yet last we checked they are still the Hawks. For a team that was 31-10 on the road with 28-13 ATS record, they were awfully unsure of themselves. What has to be a real concern for coach Doc Rivers, off his first ever playoff series win, is his team was outscored 74-54 in three games in Atlanta in the four quarter, never once making it to 20 points in final stanza. It was Kevin Garnett passing up open shots, Paul Pierce losing poise and reportedly flashing L.A. gang signs, while Ray Allen will not be accused of being Robert Horry in clutch situations. The Celtics are 39-6 and 29-15-1 at TD Banknorth Garden, where they will be the first two games. The Pierce posse is 9-1 ATS after game where they allowed a shooting pct. of 35 percent or less this season.

Cleveland took one game longer to defeat Washington than expected, after LeBron James put an end to the Wizards nonsense in six. The Cavaliers are nowhere near as athletic as Atlanta, yet with James, could create a lot of difficulties for Boston. As Joe Johnson showed, the Celtics have matchup issues with swing players that can shoot or drive to the basket from different angles. James is a superior passer to Johnson, or anyone else the Hawks had, which creates opportunities for shooters like Delonte West, Daniel Gibson and Wally Szezerbiak. If these guys make shots, Cleveland becomes much more dangerous. On the year, Cleveland was only 12-18 as road underdogs, yet managed 17-13 ATS record. Coach Mike Brown's team also does a good job competing, with 13-5 ATS record versus good shooting teams, making 46 or more of their shots this season.

LeBron's will is probably worth a victory or two, especially as underdog and if his teammates follow his lead and Boston is cavalier in approach again, who knows. Boston is still the more talented team with more playmakers, nonetheless six or seven games can not be ruled out. These teams split four contests with Cleveland covering three. Can easily see the Cavs covering the majority of these East semi-final affairs, with the Under being strongest total play throughout the series.

Game One is on TNT Tuesday starting at 8 Eastern with Celts 10-point favorite.

StatFox Take Boston in six

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