The Boston Celtics (44-18, 33-28-1 ATS) return home for a matchup against the Cleveland Cavaliers (39-25, 33-29-2 ATS). Boston is coming off a tough loss to the New York Knicks and no longer controls the top seed in the Eastern Conference. Cleveland lost three straight before dominating the Toronto Raptors 118-93 on Sunday. The Cavs are up 2-0 in the season series. According to online sports book betonline.ag, the Celtics are 5-point favorites.
Point Spread: Boston Celtics -5
O/U: 219 points
ML: Celtics -195, Cavaliers +170
Jaylen Brown (personal) is set to return tonight after missing Monday’s game. Mike Muscala (knee) is questionable.
The Cavaliers’ rotation will be fully healthy for tonight’s tilt.
Celtics Projected Starters
PG: Marcus Smart
SG: Jaylen Brown
SF: Jayson Tatum
PF: Al Horford
C: Robert Williams III
Cavaliers Projected Starters
PG: Darius Garland
SG: Donovan Mitchell
SF: Isaac Okoro
PF: Evan Mobley
C: Jarrett Allen
Boston Celtics Overview
The whole team had an off-night on Monday, but Jayson Tatum’s struggles consistently scoring the ball stretch back a bit further. Since the break, he is 22/60 from the field and is building a brick house from three, shooting just 24.1%. The team rallied offensively against Indiana and Philadelphia, but Jayson Tatum needs to be Jayson Tatum for the Celtics to reclaim the one seed. The return of Jaylen Brown will take some of the pressure off him as he tries to return to form.
Against the Knicks, Malcolm Brogdon was keeping the Celtics within striking distance when no one else’s shots were falling. Brogdon consistently got to his midrange spots and drilled short jumpers. Over his last five games, he’s averaging 20.4 points per game on 60% shooting, thriving when he receives extended run. His role will obviously diminish with Brown coming back, but if the Celtics can’t hit outside shots again, they should turn to Brogdon to spark consistent offense from the midrange.
Cleveland Cavaliers Overview
Unlike Jayson Tatum as of late, Darius Garland has been lights out from three. Over the month of February, Garland shot 53%, averaging 22.5 points overall. On a team where Donovan Mitchell gets all the spotlight, the former All-Star’s name has almost flown under the radar this year. If the Celtics put too much emphasis on stopping Mitchell, look for the Cavs’ PG to have a big night from beyond the arc.
On defense, the Cavs have all the tools to utilize the same game plan the Knicks used on Monday. The Celtics showed unwillingness to adjust when outside shots weren’t falling, deterred by the looming presence of Mitchell Robinson. The Cavs have not one but two feared rim protectors in Evan Mobley and Jarrett Allen. If they can establish their presence early, Boston will have to shoot their way out of this. This could play into Cleveland’s favor, as the Cavs give up the the third-least three point makes per game (11.4).
This is a huge game for Cleveland, but it’s arguably just as big for Boston. It’s too close to the postseason for the Celtics to put up back-to-back clunkers, and I fully expect them to play hard and lock in on the offensive end. The Cavs are no pushover — now challenging the 76ers for the three seed — but I think the Celtics get back on track tonight with a home win.