When the March Madness picks are set each season, it's never surprising to see the Gonzaga Bulldogs on the shortlist of potential NCAA Tournament champions.
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Will The Cavaliers Obliterate The Celtics Once Again?
Take the Cavs to cover again
By Liam Davis
All odds brought to you by Topbet.
Cleveland Cavaliers (-14.5) vs. Boston Celtics (+14.5)
So, um, yeah...We've been wrong about this series. Very wrong. Disgustingly wrong.
The hope, the expectation, was that the Boston Celtics would steal a game against the Cleveland Cavaliers while playing in front of their home crowd. Failing that, one of the first two meetings should have been close. Or relatively competitive. Or even half-watchable.
They weren't. Far from it.
The Cavaliers enter Game 3 fresh off a 113-86 Game 2 victory, during which they made the Celtics look like a Division III basketball team. Boston's small lineups kept turning the ball over. Its bigger lineups still couldn't grab rebounds. They gave up baskets left and right in transition. And then they gave up, period. They trailed by as many as 50 points, and it barely seemed like anyone was giving close to maximum effort during the final three quarters.
Worse still: Isaiah Thomas didn't return for the second half after suffering a hip injury. He wasn't having a good game. Nor is he having a good series. The Cavaliers kept trapping him, and while he dished out six assists through the first two periods, he went 0-of-6 from the floor.
As of now, at this writing, there is no official word on his status. But multiple reports classify his hip injury as "significant." Thomas has played through everything this postseason—from the tragic and sudden death of his younger sister, to missing teeth, to general soreness. In the opinion of yours truly, it doesn't sound like he'll be able to play through this.
It's nevertheless hard to pick the Cavaliers to cover a 14.5-point spread. They didn't even win by that much in Game 1, when they led by as many as 28 points. One of these games has to be close, right? Even the Toronto Raptors, without Kyle Lowry, mustered a few competitive contests. So we have to pick the Celtics, right? RIGHT?i
This is a tough call. The Celtics have missed a ton of open shots. They're shooting 32 percent on threes where the Cavaliers' closest defender is four or more feet away, according to NBA.com. That's a problem when you shoot as many treys as they do. Mix in the inability to stop LeBron James or keep any of the Cavaliers' three-point shooters in check, and the Celtics have themselves a good old-fashioned barn burner.
So, again, what do we do? Just two of the Cavaliers' victories all postseason have come by more than 14 points. They haven't covered the spread in three straight games in ages. At the same time, the sportsbooks have been off in each of their first two calculations. They're overdue for accuracy as well.
This is an uncomfortable pick to make, but we're making it. The Cavaliers have ripped the soul from the Celtics. No reason to expect them to stop now.
The Pick: Cleveland Cavaliers (-14.5)
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