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Cavaliers/Celtics Preview

   by Matt Fargo - 05/12/2010

The Numbers



Boston is a one-point favorite with the total set at 196. Boston was favored in its first home game in Game Three but rolled into the underdog in Game Four. Thursday’s total is the highest seen so far this series.



Celtics Edge



With the upset win in Cleveland, Boston put itself in the driver’s seat. Of the Game Five winners in the history of the playoffs that took a 3-2 advantage, 83 percent of those teams have gone on to win the series.



The Celtics have done their part in keeping up with this. Boston is 31-1 in playoff series when leading three games to two and on the other side, since the franchise's inception, the Cavaliers have been on the short end of a 3-2 lead in a playoff series four times and all four series ended with the Cavaliers being ousted.



The problem for Boston is that the one series loss took place last season. The Celtics were in a similar situation as they were up 3-2 against Orlando and they had the luxury of knowing a potential Game Seven would be at home. They lost Game Six in Orlando and then were walloped in Game Seven by 19 points.



Last Game at the Q?



In one of the biggest games of the season, LeBron James put up arguably one of his smallest efforts. If the Cavaliers cannot win on the road and extend the series one more game, did LeBron play his last ever home game in Cleveland?



Champions step up when needed and James did not do that when his team needed him the most. He did not score a field goal until midway through the third quarter and looked very disinterested at times. He did nothing on defense and he has forced his team to win again on the road to avoid their season ending sooner than expected.



“I spoil a lot of people with my play,” James said after the game. “When you have a bad game here or there, you've had three bad games in a seven-year career, then it's easy to point that out.” He was referring to the countless boos that he was hit with when the game ended and that could surely sway his decision of whether to stay or go come July 1.



We should expect to see a bounceback effort in Game Six but we thought the same in Game Five and that obviously did not happen.



Boston Peaking



The Celtics ended the regular season on a 3-7 run and momentum was clearly not in their corner. However they have picked it up at the right time as they easily took care of Miami and they have had the upper hand against the Cavaliers.



It comes down to teamwork. Boston has been sharing the ball and making the extra pass when needed. If one player has a bad game, someone else steps up for the Celtics. That is not the case for Cleveland. James has had two bad games in a row but there is no one who is capable of making up for it.



“That’s the beauty of our team,’’ said Paul Pierce. “It makes us so dangerous. When you look at Cleveland, you know you’ve got to stop LeBron. With us, we’ve got four or five guys who can lead us in scoring. You never know where it’s going to come from and that’s what makes us so dangerous — different guys stepping up different nights.”



The Celtics are starting to once again look like the 2008 Championship team and that is bad news for the remaining teams still alive in the playoffs.



Cleveland head coach Mike Brown is unsure how to motivate his team and that is a pretty big problem at this stage of the season.



Home Court Shmome Court



The Cavaliers are coming off their worst ever home playoff loss and it came at the worst time. Cleveland suffered its first home Game Five loss in franchise history when a series is tied 2-2. Prior to that, it had been 3-0.



That 32-point loss followed an 18-point home loss and putting that into perspective, those losses by a combined 50 points were more than double of the total that they were outscored by in the six regular season losses combined (23). Obviously, the Celtics have figured it out.



The Cavaliers went into Boston following that 18-point setback and won by 29 points. The road team has now lost three of the last four games in this series and all three by double-digits so the home floor, usually coveted by most teams this time of year, has not proven to be a factor.



If the Cavaliers continue the road-team dominance, don’t be surprised.



Trends



Boston is 3-11 ATS in home games after a win by 10 points or more this season.



Cleveland is 4-10 ATS in its last 14 games following a loss.



Cleveland is 14-4 to the ‘OVER’ in road games revenging a loss where opponent scored 100 or more points over the last three seasons.



Boston is 17-4 to the ‘UNDER’ after a win by 30 or more since 1996.

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