The Boston Celtics have a rich history, obviously, and although a lot of people may not have realized it at the time, when they hired Brad Stevens to be their head coach, they may the absolute best move if they wanted to continue their tradition. Stevens was the youngest coach in the NBA when he was brought aboard, but he has been nothing short of a miracle worker as he has brought this proud franchise into the elite class. And now he has a chance to take them into the NBA finals, although the task is daunting – the Celtics have to beat LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in four games out of the next seven, beginning on Sunday at the TD Garden. BetAnySports customers will have the opportunity to get reduced juice on these games, and that offers a lot of value in the NBA Betting Lines; then they can turn to Live Betting Ultra so that they can place wagers during the game itself.
2018 NBA Betting Lines – Eastern Conference Finals:
In this series price, as it is posted by the folks at BetAnySports, the Celtics come in as an underdog:
Cleveland Cavaliers -280
Boston Celtics +240
And in Game 1, which begins on 3:30 PM ET on Sunday, the Cavs are favored by a point and a half, with a posted total of 204 points.
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When you talk about the Celtics you are talking about a culture of fundamentals and unselfishness. The team concept is absolutely paramount; there is no other way this squad could have dealt with so many injuries to key people and still be among the best in the NBA. To begin with, Gordon Hayward, who came to the team as a prized free-agent, went down with a knee injury after just a couple of minutes of the opening game, and he missed the rest of the season. Kyrie Irving, who had played second banana to LeBron in Cleveland, was top dog with the Celtics, but he went down with an injury late in the regular season. There have been other key contributors who have missed considerable periods of time, and Stevens has very masterfully navigated around all that.
Actually, some new stars have been born; Terry Rozier was a reserve, but since being elevated to the starting lineup he has been dominant at times, on both ends of the floor. Rookie Jayson Tatum is growing up fast, with a string of 20-point games to his credit in the playoffs. When you look at this injury-racked lineup, you would think they had no right to get past Milwaukee and Philadelphia in their two playoff series, but they have done just that, and they been able to hassle superstars on the defensive end along the way. LeBron James, however, is a whole different animal.
One thing Boston is going to rely on, no matter what, is defense. For the season, they were tied for the #1 spot in the statistical category of “Defensive Rating,” and this is yet another area where the team concept reigns supreme. In a curious way, the loss of a Irving actually makes them a better defensive squad, especially when Marcus Smart is healthy. Smart, the guard from Oklahoma State who returned to the team during the series against Milwaukee, after surgery on his thumb, is one of those defenders who is all over the place, and a good bet to get on everyone’s nerves. He also had some crucial three-pointers in Game 5 of the series against the Philadelphia 76ers.
It’s not likely he will be among the players trying to defend LeBron; Stevens will likely rotate a number of people, including Jaylen Brown, Semi Ojeleye, and Marcus Morris, who seems to have had at least some success harassing King James in the past. Another player who will be critical on the defensive end is Al Horford, the All-Star power forward, who has been on the winning side in only one game out of 17 against the Cavaliers in playoff action. But he is averaging over 17 points a game in the playoffs, and usually has some success against Kevin Love, limiting him to just 25% from the field during the regular season.
We know that the Cavaliers come into this series with a lot of momentum, and Boston does not have “all hands on deck.” But you just can’t underestimate what a guy like Stevens can do in manipulating his rotation, so you definitely have to give the guys in green a fighting chance.
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By Charles Jay