Cleveland Cavaliers (-5.5, 213.5 o/u) at Boston Celtics
LeBron James arrived in Cleveland hoping to turn the Cavaliers into championship material. That quest has gotten off to a rocky start. In their first six games, the Cavs are just 3-3 and boast losses to the 2-7 Knicks and 3-6 Jazz. They have looked better of late, though, winning two straight over the Pelicans and Nuggets. Tonight, the Cavs land in Boston hoping to make it three in a row at the expense of the Celtics.
According to James, who has struggled personally in the early going, it’s only a matter of time before he is back to his old self.
“I’m just getting back into the floor, stepping into a new system, new players, learning it, it takes time even for me. You know, to get the chemistry, how you are going to attack, how to play to help the team at the end of the day, is a process even for me. I’m still not there for sure; I have a couple more things I need to work on, but I’m feeling I am in a good place right now and I have made some progress.”
After the Cavs’ 118-111 win over the Pelicans on Monday, coach David Blatt was disappointed with his team’s effort on defense.
“I can honestly tell you I’m a little disappointed in the moments of lethargy that we have on defense… And our guys need to understand that if we want to consistently beat great and good teams and very good teams like the one we saw tonight, we cannot afford to sleep for parts of the game or parts of the quarter.”
On the other side, the Boston Celtics are 3-4 on the season. On Tuesday, they were surprised at home by the Oklahoma City Thunder, who are playing without their two best players (Kevin Durant and Russell Westbrook). The Celtics are averaging over 104 points per game, and have a balanced attack with four players over 14 points per game, but no one over 18. Point guard Rajon Rondo is leading the league in assists at the moment, averaging 11.3 dimes per game. The problems for Boston have been on the defensive end, where they give up 106.4 points per night, third worst in the league. Rebounding has been central to the Celtics’ poor defense as the team is bottom ten in the league in both defensive and total rebounds.
In the last ten meetings between these two teams, Boston leads the series 7-3. The Celtics have also taken three straight. But the Cavs are favored to buck the trend tonight, listed at -5.5.
(Photo credit: Keith Allison from Baltimore, USA (LeBron James) [CC-BY-SA-2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-sa/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons. Photo has been cropped from its original.)