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NBA-Play Offs-Tuesday night- LeBron looking to improve, Boston to win!!!

If LeBron James was even a shell of his usual self in Game 3 against the Boston Celtics, the Cleveland Cavaliers would be up 3-0 in the conference finals and beginning to size up the Golden State Warriors for what would be an NBA Finals rematch.

Game 4 is Tuesday in Cleveland.

“No blame. We’re all to blame,” Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue said Monday, a day after his team was stunned 111-108 by the Celtics. “We lost; it happens. For a guy who played great for five straight months, he’s got to have a bad game sooner or later. He’s human. He didn’t shoot the ball well. It wasn’t his ordinary game. But Kevin (Love, 28 points) and Kyrie (Irving, 29 points) had it going early and they played well, so it kind of got him out of rhythm a little bit in that first half. That’s no excuse.”

It wasn’t just James’ 11 points on 4-of-13 shooting that killed Cleveland, although it was surprising, given the 68 points he’d scored in the first two games of this series. It was his shocking inactivity in the fourth quarter against the Celtics, given his historic efforts against them and Jae Crowder — who typically defends James.

James took just three shots in that fourth quarter and missed them all. He didn’t get to the free-throw line.

“He’s got to be aggressive, get downhill, play like he’s been playing, play confident,” said Cavaliers teammate and friend J.R. Smith, who scored 13 points with eight rebounds in Game 3.

“That’s what I always think, when people of his stature or people like him, you’ve got to play confident the whole night and play aggressive. It’s the Eastern Conference finals. It’s not enough for him. For what he does, what he brings, it’s not enough. He knows that. We know that. Just expect him to be better in Game 4.”

According to, James’ teams are 1-10 in the playoffs when he scores 15 or fewer points. Perhaps foreshadowing what’s to come from him in Game 4, James is averaging 24.8 points, 8.4 rebounds, and 6.4 assists in the nine playoff games following such a loss (the 10th game will be Tuesday).

James is 20-0 in playoff series in which his team won the first two games, and the Cavaliers are 14-0 in those sets. James hasn’t lost a playoff series against an Eastern team since the second round in 2010, when the Celtics knocked out Cleveland in six games.

James had one of his worst playoff games ever in that series — in Game 5, at home, he scored 15 points on 3-of-14 shooting and the Cavaliers were blown out. The Celtics took Game 6 and the series.

Cleveland still has control in these conference finals and is 13-2 in its last 15 playoff games at Quicken Loans Arena.

“I mean, a game like that just happens,” Lue said. “You move on and hopefully be better the next game. It’s not something we’re going to hang our head on. But we definitely understand that this (Boston) team is not going to quit, they’re going to fight, they’re going to compete.”

The Celtics have to fight on without leading scorer Isaiah Thomas, who is out for the remainder of the playoffs with a hip injury. His teammates celebrated with Thomas via FaceTime following their Game 3 win. They all know not to expect the same, unusually tame James in Game 4.

“I think he’s going to be aggressive,” said Avery Bradley, who scored 20 points and made the game-winning 3-pointer. “I mean, LeBron James understands how to play the game, and he understands what this team needs from him. He’s most likely going to be a lot more aggressive. It’s our job to make sure that we defend him as best we can and just make every — take other guys out of the game.”

Boston trailed 2-0 in the first round against Chicago, but won the next four. This is a whole different deal, however, facing the defending champions without their own best player in Thomas.

And now there may be more adversity for the Celtics. Coach Brad Stevens told the Boston Globe that forward Amir Johnson has a sprained right shoulder and is questionable for Game 4. Johnson was replaced in the starting lineup for Game 2 by Gerald Green, but after a 44-point loss and with Thomas out, Stevens went back to Johnson in Game 3.

Stevens would rather play Kelly Olynyk (15 points in Game 3) and Jonas Jerebko (10 points) than Johnson anyway.

“We always believe in ourselves,” said Avery Bradley, who scored 20 points and made the game-winning 3-pointer in Game 3. “It’s not always the outcome that we want, but that’s part of the game.

“You’re going to have ups and downs. You obviously hear people saying that it’s all about how you respond, and we don’t feel like people believed in us and counted us out, but that just put another chip on our shoulder, which I think is good. And I hope we can continue to play with that chip on our shoulder and come out the same way next game.”

Stevens looked beyond the scoring numbers James put up in Game 3.

“Well, one of the things, as you go back and watch the film, I thought LeBron made a lot of the right plays,” Stevens said. “When you’ve got guys that are all on fire the way they are, the right basketball play is to find them. He just made it over and over.

“The guy is a tremendous basketball player. He makes the right play over and over, and he thinks the game, he sees the game. He’s a really good defender. He can read situations. So I thought he was pretty darned good. But like I said last night, I’m not going to be critical of the best player in the world.”

NBA-Play Offs-Monday night-Will Spurs play their last game this season ???

NBA Playoffs Best Bet (ESPN, 9:00 p.m. ET)
Golden State vs. San Antonio – Game 4 Odds: Golden State (-11.5); Total set at 218.5

To nobody’s real surprise, the Golden State Warriors are one win away from a third straight appearance in the NBA Finals and then enter Game 4 as double digit favorites to do so. The Warriors took advantage of a Kawhi Leonard-less Spurs team in Game 3 to blow San Antonio out yet again and it sparked a great post-game quote from Spurs veteran Manu Ginobili.

Ginobili stated that to win Game 4 the Spurs will have to play at least a 10 out of 10 and the Warriors can play no better than a 7 for San Antonio to have a chance to extend this series. But NBA bettors did see the Boston Celtics win outright as heavy underdogs last night in Cleveland without their All-Star, so can the Spurs do the same thing and live up to Ginobili’s high standards?

Odds per –

Best Bet: Under 218.5

Quite frankly, I’m not sure if San Antonio can muster up the energy and effort to extend this series for at least one more game, but in terms of the side, it’s tough not to consider taking the points with the home underdog. The Spurs have long been a very prideful organization which does bode well for them tonight, but the prospects of packing their bags for another trip out West for Game 5 just to see their season end then is something I’m sure the players aren’t too enthused about.

That being said, San Antonio doesn’t have to really come close to winning this game outright to cover the point spread, and the 4th game of a series is typically the toughest to win, so if you are looking for a lean on this side, it’s got to be the Spurs or nothing.

For one, it’s tough (and rare) to see a series get completed without at least one ‘under’ bet cashing, and there are also too many scenarios tonight in terms of how the game could play out that favor a look at the ‘under.’

Let’s begin with the scenario many are expecting in we will see another blowout victory by Golden State. If that’s the case, we will have extended garbage time with the reserves from both sides at the end of the game and can you really trust those guys to put up a 50+ point quarter if needed?

Golden State will just want to bleed the clock and get out of dodge as healthy as can be if that’s the case, meaning shot clocks bleed down and tough shots are forced up by both sides. This is by far the highest total we’ve seen so far in this series and should it be a blowout, I’m not so sure we come close to 220+ points.

Now, if the short-handed Spurs can scratch and claw their way to a potential victory tonight, the ‘under’ looks just as good. San Antonio – without Parker and Leonard – aren’t going to beat Golden State in an offensive showcase, so they’ll have to slow down the game from the start, execute on both ends of the floor in half-court sets, and use their top tier defense to frustrate the Warriors all-world shooters for the full 48 minutes.

Turning this game into a slugfest has got to be the Spurs best chance to live to fight another day and if they are able to accomplish that goal, tonight’s total won’t finish much higher than 210.

So while the majority of bettors continue to bet the ‘over’ here, backing the ‘under’ given the possible scenarios is the smarter option. Six of the past eight meetings between these two in Texas have cashed ‘under’ tickets.

NBA-Play Offs-Sunday night basketball-Everything is obvious, we all wait for the big finals

Eastern Conference Finals – Game 3 (Cavaliers lead 2-0)
Boston at Cleveland (TNT, 8:30 p.m. ET)

The Eastern Conference Finals are nearly done, as evidenced by a pair of Cleveland routs of Boston at TD Garden. The Cavaliers are two victories away from their third straight NBA Finals appearance as Cleveland heads back home trying to close out the overmatched Celtics.

Not having home-court advantage didn’t matter one iota for Tyronn Lue’s squad, who knocked off Boston in the series opener, 117-104 after building a 21-point halftime lead. The Cavaliers didn’t mess around in Game 2 by jumping out to a 72-31 halftime advantage in a 130-86 rout to easily cash as five-point road favorites.

Cleveland shot a scorching 56% from the field, while knocking down 19 three-pointers in Game 2. Amazingly, the Cavaliers had only four players scoring in double-figures, led by LeBron James’ 30 points on 12-of-18 shooting from the floor. Kyrie Irving shot a shade under 80% from the field (8-of-11), while posting a 23-point effort. The Cavs broke things open by outscoring the Celtics in the second quarter, 40-13 to improve to 10-0 in the postseason.

Now, the ugly part of the Game 2 beatdown in Beantown. Celtics’ star Isaiah Thomas was limited to two points on 0-for-6 shooting in 17 minutes before exiting with a right hip injury. Thomas will be sidelined for the remainder of the playoffs as the Celtics lost five of six games without the All-Star guard this season.

Boston dropped its sixth straight playoff game to Cleveland dating back to the 2015 first round, which also means that head coach Brad Stevens has yet to defeat to the Cavaliers in a postseason game.

The Cavaliers have compiled a 5-1 record this season against the Celtics, while topping the 114-point mark in all five victories. Now the series heads back to Quicken Loans Arena for the next two games, which could spell the end of Boston’s season.

Cleveland beat Boston by six points in each matchup at the “Q,” but the Cavaliers held a 17-point halftime advantage in the first meeting in November, while building an 18-point edge after three quarters in the second contest before Boston picked up a push and an ATS win.

Heading into Game 3, the Cavaliers opened as 14 ½-point favorites before the announcement of Thomas’ status. Cleveland has moved up to 15 ½-point chalk at most spots, as the highest number the Cavs have laid all season is 16 ½ against the Nets on December 23 in a 119-99 win. However, the Cavs lost as 15-point favorites to a short-handed Hawks’ squad on April 7 in a 114-100 defeat.

The Celtics were listed as an underdog of nine points or more only once this season, which came in the first meeting at Cleveland on November 3. Boston covered as 10 ½-point ‘dogs in a 128-122 setback as the Celtics outscored the Cavs in the fourth quarter, 39-28 to grab the cover. The C’s won all three road games in the opening round at Chicago, but lost all three at Washington in the second round, while owning a 1-2 ATS record as a road underdog.

We’ve see the total go 1-1 in the first two games at TD Garden and the ‘over’ could easily be 2-0 if Boston could make any shots this past Friday.

The oddsmakers opened Game 3 at 214 ½ and NBA analyst Chris David feels that the Celtics will try to muck up the game on Sunday and slow the tempo down.

He explained, “Even though the Celtics have been exposed and embarrassed in the first two games of this series, I believe the coaching staff will have them ready to go Sunday – at least on the defensive side of the ball. Looking at the numbers, the Celtics have been better defensively on the road (104.5 PPG) than at home (106.4 PPG) this season and in their eight playoffs wins, they’re only allowing 99.8 PPG. This has to be stressed and if Brad Stevens wants to keep his status as a ‘solid coach’ then the game plan will strictly focus on that side of the ball and hope the offense takes care of itself.”

“Betting against LeBron and Cleveland is very risky, especially when you know the Cavs have averaged 118.6 PPG in six games versus the Celtics this season. While I don’t expect Boston to win on Sunday, it should be noted that Cleveland hasn’t looked as sharp when playing on Sundays in this year’s playoffs. They did beat Indiana and Toronto on the road but only averaged 107.5 PPG in those games. I could be reaching but if I’m going to step up to the counter in Game 3, I would lean to the ‘under’ in the Cleveland team total of 114 ½.”

The Cavaliers have not been listed as a double-digit favorite in this postseason, but won and covered in their last four opportunities in this situation in 2016. In fact, Cleveland went 3-0 SU/ATS in the conference finals against Toronto at home when laying 11 points or more with each win coming by at least 19 points.

The series price is off the board, but the Cavs are currently listed at 2/1 odds to win its second consecutive NBA title. If you believe in miracles, throw in a few bucks on the Celtics to beat the Cavs in four of the next five games, then capture four more victories in the NBA Finals as Boston sits at 1000/1 to win its 18th title in franchise history.

NBA-Play offs-Eastern Conference Finals-Boston attack the King and Cavs with home advantage

Eastern Conference Finals
No. 2 Cleveland at No. 1 Boston (TNT, 8:30 p.m. ET)

2016-17 Regular Season (Cavaliers 3-1)
Nov. 3 Celtics at Cavaliers (-10.5) 128-122 (Over 207)
Dec. 29 Celtics at Cavaliers (-6) 124-118 (Over 207)
Mar. 1 Cavaliers at Celtics (-2) 103-99 (Under 224)
Apr. 5 Cavaliers (+4) at Celtics 114-91 (Under 222)

LeBron James is riding an incredible streak of Eastern Conference championships by playing in the last seven NBA Finals. James and the Cavaliers have yet to lose a playoff game in this postseason after sweeping through the Pacers and Raptors, but Cleveland will have to knock out Boston in the Eastern Conference Finals without the benefit of home-court advantage.

Boston (53-29) finished two games ahead of Cleveland in the regular season to wrap up the top seed and set themselves up for home-court against the defending champions if they were to meet in the East Finals. The Celtics dug themselves a 2-0 hole in the opening round against the Bulls before beating Chicago in four straight games, which included three victories at the United Center. Boston needed seven games to eliminate Washington in the conference semifinals as not once did the road team come out victorious.

The Cavaliers were actually tested more in the opening round sweep against Indiana than they were in the second round against Toronto. Cleveland failed to cover in the first two wins at home, while needing to overcome a 25-point deficit in a 106-102 Game 3 triumph at Bankers Life Fieldhouse. Tyronn Lue’s club needed six games to eliminate Toronto in the conference finals in 2016, but the Cavs cruised to a four-game sweep with two of those wins coming by 21 points or more.

James continues to play at a high level for the Cavaliers, who are seeking a third straight NBA Finals appearance after last June’s incredible rally from 3-1 down to stun the Warriors for the franchise’s first title. James is averaging 34.4 points per game, which is eight points higher than last year’s average in the postseason, while Kyrie Irving is nearly mirroring his numbers from the 2016 championship run (25.2 ppg) by scoring 23.8 ppg through Cleveland’s first eight victories.

Isaiah Thomas has gone from nice NBA player early in his career to a legitimate superstar since his first season in Boston in 2015-16. The diminutive point guard averaged a career-high 28.9 ppg in the regular season, while posting an incredible 53-point effort in a Game 2 overtime victory over Washington in the conference semifinals. Thomas helped carry Boston to a 115-105 win in Game 7 over the Wizards by scoring 29 points and dishing out 12 assists to lead the C’s to their first conference finals appearance since 2012 against Miami.

The Cavaliers captured the season series with the Celtics by taking three of four matchups. Cleveland won the first two meetings at Quicken Loans Arena, as the Cavs hung on to beat the Celtics on November 3 by a 128-122 count. Boston outscored Cleveland by 11 points in the fourth quarter to pick up a cover as 10 ½-point underdogs, but James was too much for the Celtics by scoring 30 points and collecting 12 assists.

In late December, Kevin Love put together one of his best games of the season with 30 points and 15 rebounds to lead Cleveland to a 124-118 triumph as six-point favorites. Both teams shot over 50% from the floor, while Thomas topped the 30-point mark for the second time against Cleveland. However, Thomas shot 2-of-11 from three-point range in those two defeats, while converting on all 27 free throw attempts.

Boston broke through at home on March 1 with a 103-99 win as 1 ½-point favorites, as the Celtics limited the Cavaliers to 40% shooting from the floor. Thomas led Boston with a game-high 31 points as the Celtics snapped a three-game home losing streak to Cleveland that included a pair of defeats in the 2015 playoffs.

Cleveland rebounded in the final matchup at TD Garden on April 5 as the Cavaliers jumped out to a 15-point halftime lead and cruised to a 114-91 rout as four-point underdogs. Thomas struggled again from downtown by hitting only 1-of-8 three-point attempts, while James ran all over the Celtics for 36 points on 14-of-22 shooting.

From a pointspread perspective, the Celtics have caught fire since dropping the first two games to the Bulls in the opening round by posting a terrific 9-2 ATS record the last 11 contests. Brad Stevens’ squad has cashed in each of their past five home games, while flipping to a home underdog for the first time in the playoffs in Game 1.

Like Boston, Cleveland failed to cash in its first two playoff contests, but the Cavaliers are riding a 5-0-1 ATS run the past six games. Since James returned to Cleveland in 2014, the Cavs are 1-2 SU/ATS in playoff openers on the road as both losses came at Golden State in the Finals.

The Celtics and Cavaliers hooked up in the playoffs in 2015 as Cleveland pulled off a four-game sweep in the opening round of the 40-42 Boston club. After winning the opening game by 13 points, each of the final three victories came by exactly eight points apiece, while Boston was limited to 95 points or fewer in the last three losses.

The Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook opened the total for Game 1 at 219 ½ and the number has been pushed up to 220 as of Tuesday evening.

“If you’ve been betting the ‘over’ in this year’s playoffs, then accept our congratulations! The high side has connected at a 58 percent clip in the postseason and that number spiked up in the conference semifinals as 14 of the 21 (67%) games went ‘over’ the number. The oddsmakers aren’t expecting things to slow down in this series and it should be known that there hasn’t been a total this high in the conference finals since the Suns and Lakers were running and gunning in the 2010 playoffs,” said David.

“Based on what we’ve seen from both teams, the opening number seems fair and I wouldn’t be surprised to see it go higher throughout the series. The new-look NBA relies heavily on 3-point shooting and both the Celtics (35.1) and Cavaliers (33.1) haven’t shied away from that trend. It’s arguable that the long break between series could hurt Cleveland, especially because they couldn’t miss (43.4%) from downtown in its first eight playoff games.”

“Cleveland has watched the ‘over’ go 6-2 in the playoffs and it will be facing a Boston team that’s watched the ‘over’ go 6-1 in seven games played at TD Garden in the playoffs. The Celtics offense is in great form (122.5 PPG) and they’ll be facing a Cavaliers defense that has looked suspect (104.9 PPG) this season. If the officials help out on Wednesday with their whistles, bettors might be cashing the ‘over’ early.”

Cleveland took care of its business as a short road favorite this season by going 11-3 both SU and ATS and that includes two wins in the playoffs against Indiana and Toronto. Meanwhile, Boston struggled as a home underdog by compiling a 1-2 mark this season. If you go back to the 2015-16 season, the Celtics went 2-6 SU and 2-5-1 ATS.

The Cavaliers enter this series as heavy -900 favorites (Bet $900 to win $100) at the Westgate to advance to their third straight NBA Finals. In spite of owning the top-seed and home-court advantage, the Celtics are listed as a +600 underdog (Bet $100 to win $600) to knock off the Cavaliers four times.

Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals tips off on Wednesday at 8:30 p.m. from TD Garden and can be seen on TNT.

NBA-Play offs-Monday night- Win or go home at Boston, the final battle is up

Eastern Conference Semifinals – Game 7 (TNT, 8:05 p.m. ET)
Washington at Boston (-4 ½, Total 210 ½)

It looked like Washington’s season was going to end on Friday but a 3-pointer with 3.5 second left from John Wall helped his team capture a 92-91 win over Boston in Game 6 from the Verizon Center.

Seconds before Wall’s game-winner, Boston’s Al Horford gave his team a 91-89 lead with a 16-foot baseline bank shot. The Celtics had one last chance but Isaiah Thomas missed an off-balance heave before the buzzer.

Wall finished with 26 and his backcourt partner Bradley Beal posted a game-high 33 points. While Wall is the catalyst for the Wizards, you can argue that the team is only as good as Beal’s production. In seven playoffs wins, he’s averaging 26.2 points per game and just 20.2 PPG in five postseason losses.

Also, it should be noted that the Wizards have gone 6-2 in this year’s playoffs when the aforementioned pair combine for 50 or more points.

Thomas scored 27 points for Boston in the loss and Avery Bradley also added 27 in Game 6. Al Horford finished with 20 points and the production of the trio helped Boston offset a rough night from its bench, which finished with just five points.

Even though Thomas has never advanced to the conference finals, he appears ready for the opportunity to play in Game 7.  “I don’t believe in pressure,” Thomas said. “I’ve worked too hard to be scared of any type of pressure.”

Including Friday’s result, the host has won all 10 games between the Wizards and Celtics this season, six in this series and four times in the regular season. The Celtics did manage to snap the ‘against the spread’ winning streak in this series for the home team by covering as five-point road underdogs in the Game 6 loss.

“The Wizards finally made a winning play to survive a contest that was up for grabs in this series, claiming Game 6 on John Wall’s deep 3-pointer in the face of top defender Avery Bradley. We’ll now get to see if that makes the difference in a change in their mentality with everything on the line in Boston. They’ve been notoriously brutal on the road, but the first two games of this series actually saw them play well enough to win. Game 5 was a no-show from the start, so it’s worth considering that blowing out the Celtics at home in D.C. to even the series after slipping into a 0-2 hole did little to alter the team’s mentality as they returned to TD Garden,” explained Mejia.

He added, “They had obliterated the Celtics so soundly in Games 3 and 4 that they still hadn’t made any winning plays like they had to when fumbling away their first two chances to claim a road win in the series. As it turns out, they’ll only need one, so it’s time to find out whether Wall’s big shot helps the Wizards carry over the confidence to make the necessary plays down the stretch to pull off an upset, since the most unlikely scenario would be a blowout win. Washington has covered the spread on the road only once in these entire playoffs, and it came on the heels of making big plays to win a Game 5, ultimately fueling a blowout win in Atlanta to close out the Hawks in the first round. “

Oddsmakers sent out a total of 211 ½ for Game 7 and that number has dropped to 209 ½. If that movement holds steady, this will likely close as the lowest total between the pair this season.

Boston has averaged 120.4 PPG in five home games against Washington this season and the ‘over’ has connected in all of those games. While that trend can very well continue on Monday, the oddsmakers only have the Celtics team total listed at 107 ½.

The Celtics have seen the ‘over’ go 5-1 at home in the playoffs and the Wizards have gone 5-0-1 to the high side as visitors in the postseason.

If you check out the Game 7 Facts, you can see that the last six decisive matchups haven’t had an outcome where both clubs posted triple digits in the same game. The ‘under’ has gone 4-2 during this span and the two ‘over’ tickets weren’t starting at a total in this neighborhood.

Historically, the home team in the NBA has dominated Game 7’s for the most part but the last two instances in the playoffs have watched the road teams capture victories.

The Jazz did so in the first round of this year’s postseason over the Clippers and in case you forgot, Cleveland defeated Golden State on the road in Game 7 of last year’s NBA Finals. The home teams were held to 91 and 89 points in those setbacks.

The winner of this game will face Cleveland in the Eastern Conference Finals, which is scheduled to begin on Wednesday from Quickens Loan Arena.