Isaiah Thomas finally made his season debut for Cleveland on Tuesday night and it was a stellar one as he had 17 points in 19 minutes. The return of Thomas in Boston will have to wait though as the guard is sitting out the 1/3 NBA free pick for scheduled rest. Regardless, oddsmakers have made the Celtics just -3 point favorites despite the fact that the Cavs are on the second leg of a back-to-back. Boston seems to be the strong pick on Wednesday night, but is the true value to be had on Cleveland?
Cleveland Aims to Make it Two-for-Two Versus Boston
The Cavs are a veteran team with depth so they will still go up to 11 players deep even without Thomas in the lineup. Last night’s 17 point win over Portland allowed those vet Cavs players to rest a bit. Lebron James logged ‘only’ 33 minutes in that contest while no other Cleveland player put in more than 25 minutes. That being said, Boston has had two nights of rest which offers a huge advantage.
Cleveland has dropped four straight road contests but sports a decent 10-8 record away from Quicken Loans Arena. The Cavs do already have a win over Boston on their resume this season; a 102-99 win back on opening night. James was dominant with 29 points and 16 boards in that contest while Kyrie Irving was solid with 22 points and 10 assists for the Celtics. Cleveland will rely on their offense to make it two in a row over Boston on the season, as the Cavs are top 5 in scoring, field goal percentage, and three point shooting.
Celtics are 3-point favorites tonight vs. the Cavaliers. Cavs on a back to back but this was still surprising.
— Hardwood Paroxysm (@HPbasketball) January 3, 2018
No Thomas, But Still a Big Night Ahead for Boston
The Celtics are 16-5 at home this season but are just 2-3 over their last five games at TD Garden. Boston is just 6-4 over their last 10 games overall but do have the benefit of two nights of rest while Cleveland matched up with Portland last night. Despite some struggles lately, the Celtics are still atop the Eastern Conference standings holding a 2.5 game lead over Toronto while being 3.5 up on the Cavs. Some of the drama is gone with Isaiah Thomas being held out of the return to Boston, but it’s a big game for both teams nonetheless.
The 1/3 NBA free pick is a traditional matchup of offensive prowess versus defensive success. Cleveland’s offense has scored 115+ in five of the last 10 games while Boston has held five of ten opponents under the century mark. The C’s are 2nd in the NBA in both defensive points allowed and opponent’s field goal percentage while ranking 4th in three point shooting percentage against. The Celtics offense is just 20th in the NBA in scoring, but expect a big night from Kyrie Irving who has notched 25+ points in six of the last eight games.
“You can’t get better than trading for a 4-time All-Star going into his prime”
– Cavs GM on Celtics acquiring Kyrie
How can anyone say the Cavs won that trade after their OWN General Manger said this! pic.twitter.com/PHhYABLL0G
— Celtics Junkies (@CelticsJunkies) January 3, 2018
1/3 NBA Free Pick – Betting
There has been minimal line movement in this contest with the total going from 213 to 213.5 and the spread BOS -2.5 to BOS -3 with Cleveland getting a majority of the wagers at 63%. The Cavs are 1-4 ATS their last five vs a team with a winning home record and are 0-4 ATS their last four overall. Those road woes and the fact that Cleveland is playing in a back-to-back situation are enough to justify a play on the home team in the 1/3 NBA free pick.
Pick: Boston Celtics -3