Trends for Cavs-Celtics Game 3: Targeting the First-Half Spread


LeBron James. Photo credit: Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

LeBron James is in an 0-2 hole for the seventh time in his career. In the previous six Game 3s, his teams went 4-2 SU and ATS. LeBron has come back to win a series twice after losing the first two games: the 2016 NBA Finals against the Warriors and 2007 Eastern Conference finals against the Pistons.

Teams down 0-2 have been profitable in the first half of Game 3, going 78-43-2 (64%) ATS since 2005. Big first-half favorites of three or more points (the Cavs are currently -5.5) have gone 17-7 (71%) ATS.

Only 37% of spread tickets are on the Cavs in Game 3. Here is how betting LeBron against the public has fared in the playoffs:

  • <50% of bets: 51-36-1 (59%) ATS
  • <45% of bets: 29-15 (66%) ATS
  • <40% of bets: 17-6 (74%) ATS

The Cavaliers have lost consecutive games in their series against the Celtics. In the 2018 playoffs, teams that have lost at least two consecutive games SU and have then played at home have gone 10-3 SU and ATS, covering the spread by 9.1 PPG. In the 10 seasons before this year’s playoffs, teams in this situation went just 101-99-9 ATS (-5.3 units). LeBron has been in this situation against an Eastern Conference opponent 11 times in his career: His teams have gone 10-1 SU and 8-3 ATS, with his only loss coming to the Celtics in the 2012 Eastern Conference Finals.

The Cavaliers are currently laying 6.5 points in Game 3. This season, when the Cavs have been favored by more than three points, things have been a disaster. In contrast, when the Celtics have been underdogs, it’s been an easy ride.

  • Cavs as 3+ favorite: 16-36-1 ATS, -4.2 ATS differential, -21u profit, ranked 30th in the NBA
  • Celtics as dog: 23-8 ATS, +4.9 ATS differential, +14.2u profit, ranked first in the NBA

The Cavaliers and Celtics play on Saturday after three full days of rest. This season (regular season and playoffs), the Celtics have been the most profitable team in the NBA on extended rest (+8.5 units), while the Cavaliers have been the least profitable team (-12.3 units). In the playoffs, nothing has changed: The Cavaliers are 0-4 ATS on extended rest, while the Celtics are 3-1 ATS. — John Ewing and Evan Abrams

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