Cleveland Cavaliers vs Boston Celtics Game 2 Prediction: NBA Odds, Expert Pick (Thursday, May 9)

Cleveland Cavaliers vs Boston Celtics Game 2 Prediction: NBA Odds, Expert Pick (Thursday, May 9) article feature image

(Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images) Pictured: Jayson Tatum.

Cavaliers vs. Celtics Odds

Thursday, May 9
7:00pm ET
Cavaliers Odds
-108o / -112u
Celtics Odds
-108o / -112u
Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.

As the ClevelandCavaliers face off against the Boston Celtics on Thursday, May 9 at 7 p.m. ET on ESPN  — we provide our expert prediction and betting picks for today's game.

After a runaway Game 1, the two teams will meet up again Thursday night, with Boston looking to maintain home-court advantage while Cleveland tries to pull off a mini shock, coming into the game as 13.5-point underdogs.

Outside of one absurd Heat game (where have we heard that before?), the Celtics have been absolutely locked in this postseason, and the offense is running as smooth as it has all season. Ironically, it hasn't necessarily come via the means it came during the regular season — but different hasn't meant worse.

Let's dive into our Cavs vs. Celtics preview to see if bettors can use this new distribution of Boston's offense to find any edges, or if it is more noise than signal.

Pick: Tatum Under 26.5 Points

Cleveland Cavaliers

But first, briefly, on the Cavaliers. I didn't see much of a chance for them in this series, and Game 1 didn't do much to change my mind on that front. With Darius Garland in the form he is in (averaging basically 15 points and five assists this postseason), it's just very difficult to imagine them keeping up with the well-oiled machine that is the Boston offense right now.

If you do like Cleveland, it can't be entirely on Donovan Mitchell. The game script for a Cleveland win likely would center around a scorching hot game from one of their gunners like Max Strus or, I think even more likely, Sam Merrill.

The letdown potential is always there for Boston — think about Game 2 in the Celtics' last series when they basically decided to leave Miami unguarded the entire night — so if you want to be on Cleveland, I think you go to the extreme.

What's the extreme? A same-game parlay in which Merrill hits a bunch of 3s (he hit at least five 3s nine times this season!), the Cavs clear their team total and Cleveland gets the win is absolutely a script that I will want to be on when the market appears.

Boston Celtics

From the Boston side of things, their offensive distribution has looked different this postseason, as noted above. This tweet from Nekias Duncan sums it up well:

32 assists to 10 turnovers for Jayson Tatum in the postseason so far.

Boston with a 126.4 ORTG with him on, 101.7 with him off (PBP Stats).

Living in the flow state right now. Shots haven’t fallen for him yet and it looks like *this*.

— Nekias (Nuh-KY-us) Duncan (@NekiasNBA) May 8, 2024

The offense is clearly clicking, but what that tweet doesn't show is that Jayson Tatum is averaging basically 20 points per game, down from his season average of 26.9. The Celtics are getting less from Tatum scoring-wise, but it's clearly been no issue for them at all. That's kind of been the theme all season. Tatum saw his scoring go from 30.1 PPG last season to 26.9 PPG this season, with the Boston offense improving from a 117.3 offensive rating to a historic 122.2.

This is not to say that less Tatum is better, but more so that when things are clicking, less Tatum is needed — and he's fine accepting that decreased scoring role.

It's impressive from a star player like Tatum, and I very much think there is signal here. In a series in which the Celtics simply don't need him to force the issue at all, I'm going to run back his points prop under.

Cavaliers vs. Celtics

Betting Pick & Prediction

My favorite play from this game is Tatum going under 26.5 points.

However, I do think there's a solid chance Boston lets down in one of the next three games, and there's a decent chance it comes at the crazy hot hand of a Cavs 3-point gunner. As such, I'll be eyeing an extreme Merrill-centric same-game parlay. Keep an eye out in the Action app.

Pick: Tatum Under 26.5 Points

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