The Boston Celtics worked their way up to second place in the East but have yet to prove they can beat the best team in the conference. The Celtics will get another crack at that when they host the Cleveland Cavaliers on Wednesday.
Boston is four games behind the Cavaliers in the standings and might be accused of looking ahead on the schedule after a sub-par performance in a 114-98 home loss to the Atlanta Hawks on Monday – its third loss in the last four games. The road ahead only gets more difficult for the Celtics, who head out for a five-game West Coast trip after finishing up with Cleveland that includes stops at Golden State and the Los Angeles Clippers. The Cavaliers fell at home to Chicago on Saturday with LeBron James sitting out but looked like a dominant team again with their superstar back in the lineup against Milwaukee on Monday. “It’s been a great month for our team,” James told reporters after finishing up a 9-2 February with Monday’s 102-95 triumph. “We just played good basketball. We got back to Cavalier basketball and to our DNA, so it definitely helped a lot.”
TV: 8 p.m. ET, ESPN, FSN Ohio (Cleveland), CSN New England (Boston)
LINE HISTORY: The Cavaliers opened as one-point road favorites. The total hit the board at 221.5 and jumped slightly to 222 on Wednesday morning. Check out the complete line history here.
Cavaliers – SG J. Smith (Late March, PF K. Love (Late March, knee).
Celtics – SF G. Green (Out Wed, heel), PG D. Jackson (Out Indefinitely, illness).
COVERS POWER RANKINGS: Cavaliers (-7.5) – Celtics (-6.4) + home court (-3) = Celtics -1.9
ABOUT THE CAVALIERS (41-17 SU, 27-29-2 ATS, 33-24-1 O/U): James challenged his front office to add players when the team was struggling in January and they will bring in a former star in point guard Deron Williams, who signed on Monday after being waived by the Dallas Mavericks. “Automatic leadership,” James told reporters of what Williams will bring to the team. “He’s ran a franchise – multiple franchises – before, so you know he knows how to run a ball club. He’s played in big games before, so you know he won’t shy away from the moment.” Williams averaged 13.1 points and 6.9 assists in 40 games for the Mavericks and is expected to back up All-Star Kyrie Irving.
ABOUT THE CELTICS (38-22 SU, 30-28-2 ATS, 31-27-2 O/U): Boston star Isaiah Thomas struggled to 19 points on 4-of-21 shooting on Monday, ending his franchise-record streak of 20-point games at 43. “That’s how it is when you want to be great,” Thomas told reporters. “No, I’m not worried about it. One of those games. Like I said, what was it 40-something games (of 20 points or more)? I’ll break it. I’m not worried about the record.” Thomas also matched a season high with seven turnovers in Monday’s setback as the Celtics surrendered 25 points on 18 miscues.
* Cavaliers are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 road games.
* Celtics are 0-6 ATS in their last 6 home games.
* Over is 8-2-1 in Cavaliers last 11 overall.
* Under is 3-0-1 in Celtics last 4 overall.
* Under is 4-0 in the last 4 meetings in Boston.
Check out a complete list of hot and cold trends, here.
COVERS CONSENSUS: 63 percent of Covers users are siding with the road underdog Cavaliers and Under is picking up 53 percent of the totals wagers. View full consensus data here.