Take Boston (#702)
The NBA betting markets routinely ‘zig-zag' in the playoffs, where the team that lost the previous game is priced like they will play better the next time around. Look no further than the Cavs blowout loss in Game 1 of the first round of the playoffs for a recent example, with Cleveland laying -8 in Game 2, despite their ugly Game 1 showing as -7 favorites.
Note the fact that we are NOT seeing zig-zag here. The Celtics were home dogs in Game 1. After the blowout win, now they are pick ‘em or -1, depending on your line shopping acumen. The markets are NOT pricing in Cleveland's bounceback here. I concur wholeheartedly with that betting market opinion -- this Celtics 8-0 SU & ATS run at home in the playoffs is a meaningful one.
The ‘zig-zag' theory states that the Cavs are primed to shoot much better tonight after hitting only 4-26 from three point range and 36% from the field overall in Game 1. But we've seen this elite level Celtics defense shut down the Sixers bevy of perimeter shooters game after game in the last series. They've held opponents to 33% shooting from three point range in the postseason and 1.21 points per shot attempt; both top quartile numbers that compare extremely well to Cleveland's shoddy defensive numbers. I'm not convinced that the Cavs are going to light up the scoreboard from downtown this evening.
This Tristan Thompson quote concerns me as well, with LeBron coming off a subpar showing in Game 1: “Usually when LeBron has these kind of games, the next game he does something legendary.” The last thing the Cavs need tonight is LeBron trying to do everything himself. And, quite frankly, the Cavs supporting cast has not shown particularly well this postseason, with the exception of a few games against the collapsing Raptors.
The Celtics continue to be THE single most undervalued commodity in the playoffs, with the betting markets chirping about ‘Gordon Hayward and Kyrie Irving are hurt' the same way they were saying ‘Nick Foles can't match Carson Wentz' in the NFL Playoffs. Hayward and Irving have been out for months; Boston has been just fine without them. The Celtics balance – six players averaging in double figures here in the playoffs – is working just fine without a true ‘go-to' scorer.
I love this ‘bet-on' quote from Marcus Smart, talking about the Celtics hunger to knock off the Cavs: “The last couple of playoffs, and our meeting at the end of year, they blew us out of the water. We've got a different team, just like they do, and a lot of younger guys. So for them to see that, and have that feeling like we did (in Game 1) is huge." Take the Celtics.