Cleveland Cavaliers @ Detroit Pistons (Eastern Conference, Central Division) NBA Betting preview for Monday, November 19, 2018.

Written by National Basketball Association Point Spread Analyst Greg Nelson.

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The (2-12) SU (7-7) ATS Cleveland Cavaliers got their second taste of victory in the 2018-19 season on the 13th of this month in a 113-89 blowout over Charlotte as 9 point home UNDERDOGS ATS. However, the next night they were back to their losing ways in a 119-95 SU loss as 11′ point road UNDERDOGS AGAINST THE POINT SPREAD.

Rookie point guard Collin Sexton led Cleveland with 24-points as Cleveland allowed 41 first-quarter points in defeat.

  • Cleveland is 2-5 ATS in their last 7 when giving up 100 or more points or more their previous contest.
  • The UNDER is 4-0 the Cavaliers last four after allowing 100 or more point the game before.
  • UNDER bettors have cashed in Cleveland last seven overall.
  • The Cavaliers are 5-1 the last six between the teams.

The (7-6) SU (6-7) ATS Detroit Pistons have won three of four both SU/ATS and are three games behind first-place Milwaukee in the Central division. Detroit is back in action after a 106-104 SU win over Toronto on November 14th as 9′ point road UNDERDOGS ATS.

Former Raptors and current Pistons head coach Dwane Casey didn’t put too much emphasis on his return to Toronto; he just wanted his team to play competitive basketball. Detroit outscored Toronto in the final period as Reggie Bullock hit a buzzer beater for the win.

  • Detroit is 12-5 ATS their last seventeen vs. Teams with a losing SU record.
  • UNDER bettors have cashed in 4 of Detroit last five when they’ve scored 100 or more points their previous game.
  • The UNDER is 4-1 the last five times the teams have played in Detroit
  • Detroit is 0-4 ATS their last four at home.

Monday’s game is at 7:00 PM EST at Little Caesars Arena in renovated downtown Detroit, Michigan. The Local Network will be broadcasting.

The Opening Betting Line has Cleveland as 11 point road UNDERDOGS ATS. The TOTAL is 213′ points for Monday’s contest.

Cleveland Cavaliers owner Dan Gilbert brung an NBA title to Northeast Ohio, but now he’s finding out the impact Akron native LeBron James had on the organization. Last season All-Star point guard Kyrie Irving said he no longer wanted to play with LeBron and Gilbert sent him to Boston as a decision he wishes he regrets. However, they should finish with the worst record in the NBA which would make them the favorites for the first overall pick in the 2019 draft.

Larry Drew takes over for Tyronn Lue who was fired on October 28th and insists he’ll turn rookie point guard Collin Sexton (12.9) ppg into an All-Star.

Cleveland averages (103.4) ppg as a team which is 28th in the NBA but with leading scorer and rebounder Kevin Love out until December with a foot injury someone needs to take the lead. Tristan Thompson (10.8) rebounds per game will do his part on the glass for a team that ranks 19th league-wide grabbing (44.3) rebounds per game. The backcourt of George Hill (12.6) ppg and Jordan Clarkson along with Rodney Hood are all capable scorers, but Sexton is the future.

The Cavaliers are giving up (111.8) ppg to the opposition which is 19th league-wide. Cleveland ranks last in the NBA in field goal percentage by opponents as they allow (48.7%) shooting. Leadership is missing on a team that is now searching for an identity after the best player in the world took his talent to Los Angeles.

Since Drew has taken over, they’re starting to play more team ball instead of isolation. An emphasis on defense will get the Cavalier their first road win of the season.

Bovada.Lv list the Cleveland Cavaliers win total at 30′ for 2018-19.

With all the talk in the Eastern Conference surrounding Boston, Toronto, Milwaukee, and Indiana this Sports Handicapper believes the Detroit Piston could be the team which could reign supreme in June. Afterall Casey has previous Eastern Conference coaching experience when it, and they’ve got Center Andre Drummond (16.2) rgp who leads the 4th ranked rebounding team in the NBA Power Forward Blake Griffin is equally effective on the glass and also scores a team-high (24.5) ppg. Detroit’s 18th ranked scoring offense averages (109.9) points per contest, but they have room for improvement. Shooting guard Luke Kennard is out until later this month; his ability to shoot from beyond the three-point line will be needed for a team that ranks last in the NBA.

Point Guard Reggie Jackson (15.7) ppg with a team-best (4.9) assists per contest is a multi dimensional player who’s growing into a leadership role. However, they may have to add a proven scorer to come off the bench to take it to the next level.

Detroit allows opponents (110.7) points per contest good enough for 16th in the NBA while allowing (46.5%) shooting from the field by opponents, 20th in the league.

The team got confirmation of how defense wins games with their impressive performance as they held Toronto to 16 fourth-quarter points for the best win of the 2018 season thus far. The Pistons need to play tight defense from start to finish, after all, they’re well rested.

Bovada.Lv list Detroit Pistons win total at 38 games for 2018-19.

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Are LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers poised for a turnaround?

Are LeBron James and the Los Angeles Lakers poised for a turnaround?

In July 2014, LeBron James announced he was reversing his Decision, leaving the Miami Heat to return to the Cleveland Cavaliers. After going to four straight finals in South Florida, critics thought he was crazy to leave a good thing, let alone the weather, behind. You can’t go home again and all that.

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The King didn’t go 0-3 to start his first season as a prodigal son. The Cavs lost to the New York Knicks in the Quicken Loans Arena on opening night but topped the Chicago Bulls at the United Center. James and company needed overtime to get it done, however, then lost their next two against Portland and Utah. Not too different from his first games as a Laker.

Finally, they started a four-game winning streak against Denver only to stutter again with a commensurate losing run. With the hounds baying at the 5-8 beginning, the squad found its bearings, ripping off eight wins in 15 days.

Overall, it was an inconsistent season. A six-game losing streak loomed but would soon be followed by an 18-2 run in the New Year.

Don’t misunderstand. I’m not saying the Lakers can match that success in LeBron’s first season at the Staples Center. I don’t think a ninth straight Finals appearance is in the cards. I wouldn’t put it past the man to prove me wrong but I wouldn’t bet on it either. According to Alex Kay of Forbes, the Lakers were +2000 to win the NBA title before James signed but the odds shrank to +350 when he inked. No one cared who else Magic Johnson did or didn’t sign afterwards.

What I am saying is 0-3 is just bedding in, getting the lay of the La La Land, as it were. It’s going to take some time for the Lakers to play a tune fans can dance to, but they aren’t going to keep losing either.

Tonight’s game looks like a ground floor opportunity to start profiting from a Laker resurgence. With Phoenix 1-2, it’s an opportunity for LA to claim their first win in the LBJ era even though the Suns’ lone victory came at home.

The total trends are more telling, however. Phoenix is 1-6 Against The Spread in their last seven home games against losing opposition. Igor Kokoskov’s team is 6-1 ATS in their last seven anywhere against a sub .400 squad, 4-1 in their last five against any losing team. That’s confused seas in the desert if you’re betting the line. When you combine those numbers with the following:

  • the Over is 7-2 in recent meetings between the Suns and Lakers,
  • it’s 7-1-1 in the last nine in Phoenix,
  • the Over is 3-0-1 in the Lakers last four road games and
  • 3-0-1 following games in which they surrendered 100+ pts,

you must take a long, hard look at the over.

It’s 236.5 in this game. Phoenix posted 124 in their home opener. They knocked up 103 against Golden State, the team where Lakers coach Luke Walton cut his teeth. The Lakers threw in 119 and 115 in their two defeats in regulation. LeBron contributed 26 and 24 in those games and just 32 in the overtime affair with San Antonio. He’s been consistent but hasn’t made a statement yet.

Tonight, against a team that hasn’t held an opponent below 100, seems like a good time.

Free Pick: LALvPHO Over [236.5]
2018-19 Basketball Betting Predictions
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Brooklyn Nets @ Cleveland Cavaliers NBA Betting preview for Wednesday, October 24, 2018.

Written by National Basketball Association ATS Analyst Charlie Red McDougall.

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The (1-2) SU, 1-2 ATS Brooklyn Nets won twenty-eight games last season and already have a victory in just their second game of this season. Brooklyn took down the New York Knicks 107-105 as a 4-point home FAVORITE ATS. The Nets are coming off of a 132-112 SU loss to Detroit as 8-point road UNDERDOGS ATS on October, 20th and having 3-days rest could be helpful. Brooklyn travels to New Orleans on the 26th before returning home to face Golden State October 29th.

  • Brooklyn is 5-1 ATS the last six meeting between the teams.
  • The Nets are 6-1 ATS their last seven against a team with losing home SU record.
  • OVER bettors have cashed in once this season in games involving Brooklyn.
  • Brooklyn is 22-9 ATS their last thirty-one at Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland

The (0-3) SU, 2-1 ATS Cleveland Cavaliers, are finding out again what it’s like to be without the services of LeBron James. Fans can take notice that his new team hasn’t won yet either, but all odds are on the Lakers finishing the season with a better record than Cleveland. Owner Dan Gilbert was second-guessing himself after the Kyrie Irving for Isaiah Thomas trade last season, neither is in a Cavaliers uniform. However, they still have a formidable nucleus.

  • OVER bettors have cashed in 4 of the Cavaliers last five when playing a team with a losing SU record.
  • The OVER is 4-1-1 the last six meetings between the teams.
  • The UNDER is 6-1 Cleveland last seven on Wednesday’s.
  • Cleveland is 6-1 ATS in their last seven after giving up more than 125 points in their prior game.

Wednesday’s game is at 7:05 PM EST at Quicken Loans Arena next to Jacobs field home of the MLB Indians in Cleveland, Ohio. Local Television Network will be broadcasting.

The Opening Betting Line has Brooklyn as a three-point road FAVORITE ATS. The TOTAL is 229 points for Wednesday’s contest.

Brooklyn Nets head coach Kenny Atkinson is a native New Yorker and understands what basketball is to the area. The Long Island native has the franchise within striking distance of a postseason berth with young talent. Since taking over the reigns in 2016 in which they won twenty games the win total improved by eight last season.

Shooting guard Caris LeVert is averaging 24.7 ppg on an offense that puts up 106.3 points per contest, but they’re giving up 113.3. The organization signed former Portland Center Ed Davis in the offseason to help 2017 first round draft pick Jarrett Allen in the post. It’s paying dividends with Davis grabbing a team-best 8.3 rebounds per game while Allen blocks three shots per contest.

Former second overall pick D’Angelo Russell enjoyed scoring success last season, but a knee injury sidelined the former Los Angeles Lakers guard for two and a half months. The coaching staff knows he can score points, but they want more effort on defense; Russell leads the team with 6.0 assists per game.

Brooklyn gets outscored in the second and third quarter, and that’s something the coaching staff will address in practice.

A key to a Nets victory Wednesday is for Davis to limit Cleveland power forward Kevin Love in the paint.

Bovada.Lv, list the Brooklyn Nets at +9,500 to win the 2018-19 NBA Eastern Conference Atlantic Division.

The Cleveland Cavaliers are one of four teams without a win through the first week the others are Chicago, Oklahoma City, and the Los Angeles Lakers. Head Coach Tyronn Lue has talent and experience at every position which could put them in contention for another Eastern Conference title run. Yes, it could happen even without the best player on the planet.

Rookie point guard Collin Sexton is in a great position under the tool edge of veteran George Hill and Lue. The former Alabama standout has everything it takes to become a star in the NBA which is why the Cavalier could be dangerous against any team in the East. Add Tristan Thompson, Love, JR Smith, Larry Nance Jr, and George Hill to the mix, and you have a playoff-ready roster.

However, they must assert themselves on defense; they’re allowing opponents to score 126.7 ppg while scoring 112.7 on offense.

Love, Thompson, Nance and small forward Cedi Osman will begin to assert themselves more in the paint.

JR Smith who questionable (elbow) for Wednesday’s game is an elite defender when he wants to apply himself, and they’ll need every ounce against a prolific Nets backcourt.

Bovada.Lv, list the Cleveland Cavaliers at +10,000 to repeat as Eastern Conference Champions.

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If it’s June, mistakes must be magnified

If it’s June, mistakes must be magnified

They say no one remembers who finishes second. ‘No one else’ is more accurate. The players who finish second can never forget until they finally win it all.

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Right now, both the Cleveland Cavaliers and Vegas Golden Knights are having series they would rather forget in the NBA and Stanley Cup Finals respectively. If they cannot forget now, the end will arrive sooner rather than later and both will have at least a year to replay it all in their minds, wishing after what might have been.

Vegas

Last night, the team playing with house money took the game to the Washington Capitals in the opening ten minutes. Down two games to one in the series, victory would both level terms and return home-ice advantage to the Golden Knights.

The puck gods had other ideas and, apparently, all their money on the Caps. Ninety seconds in, a shot deflected off Eric Haula’s skate then the post. Reilly Smith was up next. He fanned on a shot with the net gaping. James Neal hit the post on the powerplay with Washington netminder Braden Holtby flat on his back, helpless. Those three misses may have cost Vegas the series and the rest of us an amazing Cinderella story to get us through the next lockout.

The Capitals would not miss three times in the following ten minutes, taking a commanding lead into the second period, one that would translate into a 6-2 victory and a 3-1 series advantage.

Washington Capital TJ Oshie pops in the rebound Vegas Golden Knight Marc-Andre Fleury couldn't control in Game 4 of the Stanley Cup Final.

Lady Luck has caught up with irrepressible Vegas goalie Marc-Andre Fleury, too. The ever-smiling, effervescent ex-Penguin carried the club through the regular season, then the playoffs’ first three rounds. Against Los Angeles, San Jose and Winnipeg, his net was emptier than Donald Trump’s promises. Fleury boasted a .947 save percentage. At the worst possible time, he has regressed to the mean, his number in the Finals 102 points lower.

It will have to come back up and the skaters in front of him will have to start converting their chances. As hard as it is to relax when it’s win or go home, Vegas can’t afford to grip their sticks any tighter or make that one extra pass out of uncertainty.

Cleveland

It wasn’t three misses that put the Cavaliers under the cosh in the NBA Finals; it was one shot declined. Things had been going swimmingly for the Cavs in the NBA playoffs. LeBron James had been carrying the load and the supporting cast was ensuring he had a clear path to the basket against Indiana, Toronto and Boston. Matters were much the same for 47 minutes and 56 seconds or so of Game 1 in the fourth instalment of their annual NBA Finals confrontation. Then JR Smith happened.

In case you were locked in your bathroom for five days [it happens, I’m not judging], the 6’9″ Freehold, New Jersey native who the game program lists as a shooting guard suddenly declined to do so. Collecting the ball under the rim with the score tied [NHL Fan Book rule number 14: Never listen to Don Cherry], Smith dribbled to the sideline to run out the clock, apparently thinking the Cavs had the lead when the score was tied. Cleveland then lost in overtime.

Needless to say, LeBron was displeased. He’d been driving the bus for three series just to get the chance to beat the Warriors, and now JR Smith decides to hop out for cigarettes?

Game 2 was a debacle. Cleveland suddenly couldn’t trust each other while Golden State had to believe the stars were aligned and the moon was in the house of Klay and Curry. The Warriors won by 19 to take a two-games-to-none lead as the series switched to The Land.

Another time-honored truism in best-of-seven series is that you’re never in trouble until you lose at home. Well, the Cavs are 48 minutes from trouble of a kind they absolutely do not want. They cannot afford to give Golden State a 3-0 or even 3-1 lead. There will be no coming back. JR Smith, at 32, may face a lifetime thinking, “I could have sworn we were up one.”

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Are you ready for LeBron versus the Gang of Three, Chapter Four?

Are you ready for LeBron versus the Gang of Three, Chapter Four?

We live in an age of instant gratification. Our attention spans have dwindled to almost nothing. Virtually everyone’s kids–look at me when I’m talking to you–are diagnosed with ADD, ADHD or ADWTF. They’re all heavily medicated. Moms and dads take out one-year leases on cars built to last a decade. We trade in our old phones for the newest on a monthly basis. Nothing is ever good enough. In the immortal words of Freddie Mercury, we want it all and we want it now.

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Except when it comes to the NBA. Then, we’re happy to slog through an 82-game season listening to Charles Barkley make no sense, followed by four rounds of playoff action just so we can get to what everyone knows is coming: another episode of the LeBron and Steph Show known as the NBA Finals.

Both the Cleveland Cavaliers and Golden State Warriors deserve credit. They tried to throw us off the scent, teasing us that maybe this was the year a new team would step up to move the NBA forward by taking their respective conference finals to seven games. Golden State even let a Houston Rockets side without Chris Paul run out to a double-digit lead in the first half before pulling out another patented shock-and-awe third quarter to put the series to bed.

In the end, though, there will be a fourth consecutive final between the Cavs and Warriors, and people couldn’t be happier. If LeBron can somehow drag his supporting cast of cable repairmen and UPS drivers to a title, it could tie this best-of-seven-years series at two and force it to at least a sixth season. And the fans would eat it up. So would the television executives. Guaranteed ratings for the foreseeable future.

The opening matchup of this year’s series is tonight in Oakland. Golden State open as 12.5 point favorites. My gut wants to buy into that line by taking Golden State. I can see Steph, KIay Thompson and Kevin Durant outshooting King James. Both teams won on the road to close out but the Warriors went last and have the momentum.

On the other hand, I remember that opening scene from Once Upon a Time in the West. The planks on the train platform are too rotted and warped to dribble a ball, but the tension in the three-against-one gunfight is dead-on. Harmonica (Charles Bronson) asks Not Frank (Jack Elam) if he brought a horse for him. Not Frank laughs and says, “Looks like we’re shy one horse.” Harmonica shakes his head and replies, “You brought two too many.” Then he outdraws Not Frank and his two cohorts, gunning them all down.

I worry that LeBron James is feeling his inner Harmonica coming into Game One. He certainly felt it in Games 6 and 7 against Boston, when he ripped off 81 points.

Is he still up to it? Maybe, but he’ll definitely be alone. Kevin Love remains doubtful as he undergoes Concussion Protocol. Larry Nance Jr isn’t likely to be effective simply because Golden State doesn’t go inside as often as Boston. He should be around to clean up for James at the other end, however.

The critical point in this series will come when Golden State starts strongly. If they are even or ahead going into the half, how will Cleveland respond in the third quarter? If they have an answer for the Warriors berserker onslaught, it will be a long series. If they don’t, well, LeBron will have to take Harmonica lessons in the off-season.

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Riding the L-Train in Game 6 between the Cavs and Celts

Riding the L-Train in Game 6 between the Cavs and Celts

There are two kinds of people in the world: the results oriented and those who are all about the journey. The results-oriented crowd will tell you only the last minutes of a basketball game are worth watching. All that matters is who won. The backpackers will counter that landing a helicopter on a mountaintop doesn’t provide the same breathtaking view as when you climbed to the top through the wind and the cold under your own power. Then they’ll dare you to snatch a bottlecap from their hand and call you ‘Grasshopper’.

In Game 6 of the NBA Eastern Conference final between the Cleveland Cavaliers and Boston Celtics, LeBron James kept both groups happy.

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The Vince Lombardi acolytes tuned in just in time to see LeBron set up on the left, then feint towards the hoop against Jayson Tatum before sidestepping and burying a long three with 2:22 on the clock.

Forty-two seconds later, the King provided his own instant replay. Tatum bit on the fake again. James stepped to his left and let fly before an enraged and embarrassed Tatum leapt at him. James slithered further to his left. Tatum stumbled past. The Quicken Loans Arena erupted when the ball went in. James, chest puffed out, did his best Kimbo Slice impersonation for the crowd, including an ‘accidental’ bump and a very intentional game-over stare for Tatum as he cavorted back on defense.

And that was that. Even though there was another minute-forty remaining, the score read 107-96 Cleveland. The results-oriented crowd’s viewing experience was complete. None of them felt any need to have their blood pressure checked.

On the other hand, those of us who watched the game in full did our part in helping to pay off a few med school loans.

Cleveland started out on the front foot, jumping out to an early first-quarter lead. Then James took over on the way to a 46-point night. Boston’s five-point lead after 12 minutes became an 11-point deficit at the half. When the Cavs opened the lead to 16 halfway through the third, that third group of people I forgot to mention assumed there was nothing more to see and moved along.

It was understandable. James couldn’t miss; Boston couldn’t hit. When the Celtics tried to sneak a fast break after one James layup, the King came storming back to swat away Terry Rozier’s response.

When Boston inbounded, Tristan Thompson blocked another. But the Celtics weren’t as done as they looked. A minute before the block, Tatum had made his first field goal of the game. JR Smith had shut him down for 2-plus quarters. Early in the third, he’d passed the ball to Cleveland’s George Hill, then was called for traveling. But, as is often the case when one basket finally goes in, more followed.

Tatum ended the quarter with nine points and an assist. At the other end, LeBron began to look human. He missed a shot and made a bad pass. JR Smith began pleading with referees as he was blown for two fouls. He was back to being the Cav’s drama queen. LeBron would later remind everyone it was the drama king who sat on the throne.

But to begin the fourth quarter, Cleveland continued to struggle and the Celtics began to carry the play. Smith drew another foul. Kyle Korver drew a couple. James continued to miss. It was obvious the Cavs were holding on in an elimination game. If you were rooting for them, a gnawing feeling grew in the pit of your stomach. If you were backing Boston, hope grew.

Especially when James tripped over a teammate three-and-a-half minutes into the final frame. He rocked on his back like an armadillo, clutching his right shin. The suspense in that moment–would he continue or, [OMG!] was Cleveland’s season over?–demanded full emotional commitment from everyone watching. Sorry, you last-two-minute guys, but you f***ed up. James pushed himself to his feet, hobbled gingerly for a possession, then attacked the basket. Another miss came, followed by a driving layup after letting the shot-clock drop to critical mass.

Larry Nance Jr had come on for Tristan Thompson with a minute to go in the third. He was the one who, off balance, had crashed into LeBron. The second-generation baller wasn’t about to be the guy who broke LeBron, however.  Whenever James drove the lane from that moment, Nance cleaned up so much garbage he could star in a Men at Work reboot. After Marcus Smart rejected no.23, Nance picked up an offensive rebound and put it back. He slammed the next one home.

Not one to be ungrateful, LeBron would set him up for another dunk with a little less than three minutes remaining.

Nance’s six points and two offensive boards kept the pushing the gap to nine rather than allowing it to drop below seven. Had Boston managed a three-point play to cut it to four at any time, you had the feeling Cleveland wouldn’t hang on. That was the knife’s edge on which we all balanced. James had the same feeling. The difference was he did something about it. With the pain subsiding, LeBron switched tactics. Following the pass to Nance, he set up against Tatum on the left and dropped the two bombs.

There is a Game 7 to come tomorrow night. In Boston. Neither team has won on the road in this series. Cleveland hasn’t even come close at the TD Garden. After watching LeBron James exert his will in Game 6, you get the feeling the script could undergo a last-minute rewrite. And it’s your choice. You can tune in around 10:45 or so to catch the last few minutes, and come away with mild satisfaction or disappointment. Or you can put your heart through a wringer for two-and-a-half hours so that your cardiologist can make his next BMW payment. I think you’ll find the latter was worth it.

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Can LeBron and the Cavs respond or will the Celtics roll?

Can LeBron and the Cavs respond or will the Celtics roll?

Yes or no. Black and white. Over/under. We live in a binary world where it’s most comfortable to think there are two sides to every story. If there are more, it’s easier just to say “it’s complicated.” So, let’s keep it simple by saying there are two narratives for Game 2 between the Cleveland Cavaliers and the Boston Celtics.

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The overriding train of thought after Boston’s blowout win in Game 1 is that Celtics’ coach Brad Stevens is just too smart for Tyronn Lue and the Cavaliers. Beat writers are comparing him to an NHL coach. He has no stars but has brought his team together as a unit too formidable for LeBron James to take down on his own.

Game 1 suggests there is some truth to that. The Celtics stormed to a 26-point halftime lead. The Cavs nearly cut it in half during the third quarter, the only frame in which they surpassed 20 points and Boston did not. Then Stevens made another adjustment and his squad ran away with the game in the fourth quarter.

Marcus Moore stopped LeBron James in Game 1 of the Cavs/Boston series. Can he do it again?

Marcus Moore held LeBron James to 15 points on 5/16 shooting, 0/5 from three-point land. In fact, almost the entire Cleveland team was colder than Sarah Huckabee Sanders’ stare. Only Tristan Thompson, George Hill, and Jose Calderon shot 50% or better. Calderon only played three minutes. Rodney Hood contributed a passable 42%. The rest were in the low 30s or worse.

It was not pretty but poor shooting offers a different explanation. The Cavs had an off night. It happens. You’re free to believe that Stevens is the next coming of Steve Kerr or if you want to double down on that hockey analogy, Gerard Gallant, but having a good plan is only half the job. You must go out and execute it.

Ask yourself a question. Is Marcus Morris better than Draymond Green? Can he shut LeBron down for an entire series? The Warriors defensive specialist battled James in three consecutive NBA Finals. He won some battles but never completely derailed the L-Train.

Will Morris? Please. The 28-year-old is in his seventh season out of Kansas. One season was spent with the Rio Grande Valley Vipers in the former NBDL. If he can dominate the game’s best player for a full series, you’d have to wonder what took him so long to become an elite player.

No, LeBron is going to get his. He’s averaging 28.6 ppg in these playoffs. Even if he doesn’t go off, 23 points is both a bad night and an eight-point improvement for the King. Then, the question is whether his teammates can raise their games, as well?

Is Tristan Thompson the key to the Cavs/Boston series?

Pundits buying into the Brad Stevens narrative are calling for Tyronn Lue to bring Tristan Thompson in for Kevin Love. In small doses, Thompson was effective against Indianapolis. The matchup issues for Cleveland are similar. So, that’s an option.

If it works, the ball will be in Stevens’ court. He’ll make an adjustment to which the Cavs will have to respond. And that’s my point. A best-of-seven series isn’t decided in the first game. If it was, what would be the point of playing more? It’s about adjustments. Don’t toll the bell for Cleveland’s doom just yet. But don’t ring it for Boston’s demise either.

Expect a much closer game tonight.

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