The Boston Celtics visit the Cleveland Cavaliers on Friday night and normally the Celtics would be huge underdogs against the NBA championship favored Cavaliers, who haven't lost at home in months. However, Boston is going to catch a huge break in its chase for one of the final two playoff spots in the Eastern Conference because it appears that LeBron James will take a seat and so might another key Cavalier or two.
Cavs Can Take Foot Off Gas
The Cavaliers beat the Milwaukee Bucks 104-99 on Wednesday for their fourth straight win. Of more importance, they locked up the Central Division and the No. 2 seed in the East behind Atlanta. Thus the Cavs have absolutely nothing to play for the rest of the regular season. Recently, James said: "I would love to get some more rest, especially going into the playoffs and knowing how important those games are, and how physically taxing those games can be, mentally as well, so we’ll see what happens."
If James wants to sit, he's going to sit. In fact, he might also take Sunday's game in Boston off as well, another huge break for the Celtics. Cleveland is 2-9 without LeBron this season.
This is the fifth time in James' career he'll head into the postseason as the No. 2 seed. The previous four times his team reached the NBA Finals. In 2007, the Cavs upset the No. 1 seed Detroit Pistons in the conference finals. In 2011, his Miami Heat took out the No. 1-seeded Chicago Bulls. And last season the Heat eliminated the top-seeded Indiana Pacers. In all, James has won four series in his career when he hasn't had the home-court advantage. Only one of the four times James reached the Finals as a No. 2 seed he won a title, in 2012 over the Thunder.
"It just happened that way," James said. "It's great to be on your home floor as many games as possible. But I thrive on the road, I love playing on the road in the playoffs more than home. There's something about that adversity."
Longest Home Winning Streak In NBA
It still won't be easy for Boston with LeBron out. Cleveland has won a season-high 18 straight games at Quicken Loans Arena, outscoring opponents by an average of 14.6 points. It is their third-longest home winning streak in team history. The Cavs have also won by double figures in 14 of their last 18 games at The Q. All 18 home opponents have shot .450 or less from the field, while just one of their last 18 home foes have scored 100 points. The defense has held opponents to an average of 91.3 points on .405 shooting during those 18 straight home wins.
Boston currently is 36-42 and seventh in the East, tied with No. 8 Brooklyn. Miami and Indiana are just a game behind those two. The Celtics have won five straight road games but are 0-2 vs. Cleveland this year and were slaughtered in the one game in Ohio. James a combined 68 points on 56.0 percent shooting in the first two matchups.
There is no opening line at Sportsbook.ag for this game as the books are waiting on definitive word on James and other Cavaliers. Cleveland will be favored regardless but certainly the line could swing several points.
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