Game 2 Trends in Cavs-Celtics: Count on Cleveland to Bounce Back?


Cavaliers center Kevin Love and Celtics guard Jaylen Brown. Credit: David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Here’s a fun fact: Teams that have lost by 20 or more points in the conference finals and NBA Finals have gone 20-12 (63%) ATS in their next game since 2005.

LeBron has gone 3-3 straight-up and ATS in this situation.

  • 5/18/11: Heat +2.5 at Bulls (won, covered)
  • 6/13/13: Heat -1 at Spurs (won, covered)
  • 6/15/14: Heat +5.5 at Spurs (lost, didn’t cover)
  • 6/14/15: Cavs +9.5 at Warriors (lost, didn’t cover)
  • 6/8/16: Cavs -1.5 vs. Warriors (won, covered)
  • 6/4/17: Cavs +9 at Warriors (lost, didn’t cover)

The Cavaliers’ horrific shooting in Game 1 (36% from the field and 15.4% from 3) could be a good thing for their prospects in Game 2.

Since 2005, teams coming off a similar shooting performance (less than 40% from the field and less than 20% from 3) have gone 31-14-2 ATS (68.9%) in their next playoff game, covering by 5.5 PPG.

But there are some important caveats to note:

Almost all of the profit has come from home teams (+14 units) vs. road teams (+1.4 units). Since LeBron returned to Cleveland four years ago, this type of shooting performance has been a sign of disaster for bettors in the playoffs: The Cavs have gone 2-9 ATS the game after shooting less than 40% from the field.

The Celtics continue to be unbeatable at home in the playoffs, routing the Cavaliers by 25 in Game 1. In the playoffs and the regular season combined, Boston is the second-most profitable home team in the NBA behind the Sixers. Where the Celtics have really excelled is at home with a small point spread; in Game 2, Boston is just a 1-point favorite. Here’s how it has performed ATS at home this year:

  • Favored by 3+ points: 17-16-2 ATS, -0.7 ATS differential
  • Favored by less than 3 or dogs: 13-1 ATS, +8.8 ATS differential

Tonight’s spread was listed as a PK at the time of publication.

The Celtics have started the playoffs 8-0 SU and ATS. Starting 8-0 SU at home in the playoffs is a great feat but has been done many times, including by the Cavaliers in 2016 and Warriors in 2017. Starting 8-0 ATS in the postseason, though, is a completely different story. The last team to start a playoff campaign 8-0 ATS at home was the 1992 Utah Jazz, who also started 8-0 and lost in the Western Conference finals to the Blazers. — Evan Abrams and John Ewing 

More coverage of Cavs-Celtics Game 2:

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