Christmas is a time for giving but someone should have told me it isn’t all supposed to go to the bookie. We went 0-2 on Sunday, which felt like a given once we lost that first play with Golden State. This month’s rubber match comes first tonight on TNT’s Thursday Doubleheader.
Traditionally, this isn’t a matchup that I would look to go over but it’s hard to ignore how often the Celtics are spilling these games. A lot of it has to do with their rebounding problems. The Celtics rebound opponent misses 74 percent of the time, better than only the Raptors, who killed the C’s on the boards the last time those two teams got together in Boston. The Celts defend the perimeter and create turnovers as well as they do because of the speed and quickness of Smart, Bradley and Rozier but even with Bradley rebounding far more than he ever has in his career, Boston pays a price for putting so many undersized players on the floor together. Even Jae Crowder gives up some inches to most guys he defends. The onus that puts on Al Horford to rebound early and often can’t be good for the Celtics at the end of this excessive regular season.
Boston’s inability to size up gives Cleveland options. The Cavs may go big and crash those boards or run small without any sort of rebounding consequence, which is what I expect Ty Lue to favor. LeBron James hasn’t played since Christmas Day and even though Paul Pierce and Kevin Garnett are long gone, he still seems to get up for these games against the Celtics. With LeBron spending a lot of time at the four, the pace should be fast, which means it could be a race to 120 points tonight at the Q.
Free Pick: Over 215