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The Cavs Are Heavily Favored Over Celtics in Game 5, But Shouldn't Be
The Celtics will keep it close in Game 5
By Liam Davis
All odds brought to you by Topbet.
Game 4 didn't go as planned for the Boston Celtics.
Working off a Game 3 victory over the Cleveland Cavaliers, they hoped to snag another to even the series up at two games apiece. And for a while, it looked like they might get there. They got LeBron James into foul trouble during the first half and, at one time, built up a 16-point lead.
But the Cavaliers came raging back, with Kyrie Irving leading the way. He kept them within striking distance while James was struggling or off the court, and then LeBron himself exploded in the second half.
Unfortunately for the Celtics, there's no real blueprint to take away from their squandered lead. They were a little lucky.
People will argue they should get James in foul trouble again. Which, okay. How do you do that? It can't just be done. He's too smart of a defender. After racking up those four fouls in the first half of Game 3, he committed zero the rest of the way.
The Celtics' best bet is what it's always been: Chuck a crap ton of threes, and hope to god a bunch of them go in.
They were 10-of-31 from beyond the arc in Game 4, which isn't going to cut it. And we're not just talking about the number of makes, although that is a problem. The Celtics need to attempt more threes. Like, a lot more. As in, 45 or more.
That's the best way to make up the talent deficit they face without Isaiah Thomas. It's no coincidence that they launched 40 three-pointers, making 18, during their Game 3 victory. That's the only way for them to beat the Cavaliers.
Even taking and making hordes of threes might not be enough. The Cavaliers, on most nights, won't worry about going three-pointer for three-pointer. So the Celtics are going to need some other small, albeit significant, breaks.
Head coach Brad Stevens will put them in a position to get some. He has been super creative on the fly all series, and it's usually paid dividends, even when the Celtics lose. They made life hell on LeBron for most of Game 3 and parts of Game 4 by tossing a bunch of different defensive looks at him. That should continue.
Stevens is also a whiz at sussing out promising lineups. To that end, expect to see more out of a five-man unit featuring Marcus Smart, Jonas Jerebko, Avery Bradley, Jae Crowder and Kelly Olynyk. They have outscored the Cavaliers by 14 points during their eight minutes of actions, which has thus far been spread across two games.
With these small tweaks at their disposal, the assumption should be that the Celtics keep things close. Heck, facing elimination on their home floor, they might even win.
The Pick: Boston Celtics (+10)
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