Cavaliers vs. Celtics Game 1 prediction: NBA playoffs odds, picks, best bets

Must Read

After advancing past the Miami Heat in the first round, the Boston Celtics are heavily favored to beat the Cleveland Cavaliers in Eastern Conference semifinals.

The Celtics are also the favorites to win the NBA championship (+105, DraftKings).

But first they’ll need to get past Cleveland in the second-round series that tips off Tuesday night in Boston.

Let’s break down the matchup and the best way to bet on it.

Cavaliers vs. Celtics Game 1 odds

Team Spread Moneyline Total
Cavaliers +12 (-110) +500 o210 (-108)
Celtics -12 (-110) -700 u210 (-112)
Odds via FanDuel

Cavaliers analysis

The Cavaliers bested the Magic in a seven-game first-round slugfest that wrapped up Sunday, giving them a quick two-day turnaround to prepare for the Celtics.

Meanwhile, Boston has had six days off to prepare for Tuesday’s Game 1.

Donovan Mitchell was a hero of the first round, averaging 28.7 points on 45.9% shooting. He scored 89 points across Games 6 and 7 against the Magic, who ranked third in defensive rating in the regular season. Now, he’ll have to face Boston, which ranked second.

The Cavs have been an eyesore on offense in the postseason over the last two years. They have scored just 95.1 points per game over their previous two playoff runs, breaking through the 100-point threshold in just three of their last 12 playoff games.

Cleveland’s defense will make Boston work for every basket, particularly if Jarrett Allen can return. Allen is currently listed as questionable with a rib injury, and his presence as a rim-protecting big man is crucial.

Donovan Mitchell averaged 28.7 points per game against Orlando in the first round. Getty Images

Celtics analysis

The Celtics had a balanced effort in their first-round win over the Heat, as Jayson Tatum, Jaylen Brown and Derrick White averaged more than 20 points per game.

Tatum’s efficiency took a hit as elite defender Bam Adebayo guarded him. Tatum, who shot just 41.6% from the field against Miami, could see similar struggles against Evan Mobley in this series.

On the other hand, Brown’s game has continued to evolve, and the Cavaliers will likely struggle to handle his ability to pressure the rim.

An unlikely hero, White scored 38 and 25 points, respectively, in the final two games of the Heat series, shooting a blistering 47.7% from 3-point range.

Cleveland allowed the fifth-most wide-open 3-point attempts in the first round, and White should make them pay for coughing up those looks.

The Celtics were 4-1 against the spread (ATS) in the first round, priced as double-digit favorites in all five games. They outscored the Heat by a combined 44 points in the three home games, even with their 10-point Game 2 loss.

The Celtics went 2-1 against the Cavs this season, with the lone loss coming from an out-of-body fourth-quarter experience from Dean Wade, who remains out with a knee injury.

Cavaliers vs. Celtics Game 1 pick

It’s difficult to envision a consistent scoring avenue for the Cavs in this game.

Mitchell was admirable in carrying their offense to close out the series against the Magic, but his knee is not 100%. Now, he’ll have to carry a massive burden again two days later against Jrue Holiday and White.

Boston’s championship upside takes a hit without Kristaps Porzingis, but the drop off to Al Horford shouldn’t be too harmful in this series.

Betting on the NBA?

I like the Celtics to cover the full-game spread here, especially since Cavs coach J.B. Bickerstaff is 1-8 ATS on the road in the playoffs. However, I’ll isolate the bet and fade Cleveland’s offense.

The Cavaliers rank 15th out of 16 teams with an offensive rating of 100.0 this postseason, and the Celtics held the Heat to 92.2 points per game in the first round. Four of those five games saw Miami score less than 95 points, with the 111 anomaly in its Game 2 win.

Pick: Cavaliers team total under 98.5 points (-120, ESPN Bet)

Latest News

More Articles Like This