NBA Playoffs: Cavs vs Celtics - Game 1

Written by Rohit Ghosh
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2017 Eastern Conference Finals: Cavs vs Celtics - Game 1

The Eastern Conference Finals are set to tip off Wednesday night in Boston, with the No. 2 seed Cleveland Cavaliers hitting the road to match up with the Celtics. Let's be honest - very few expect the Celtics to win this series.

Game 1, though? There's some value there.

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Vegas Odds vs AccuScore Simulations

The Celtics are home underdogs, listed at anywhere from +165 to +175 on the money line, indicating they have about a 37 percent chance to win the game. The Cavaliers are 4-point favorites, with the total set at 219.5.

We're always interested when AccuScore sim data is on the different side of a money line pick when compared to Vegas odds. AccuScore sim data actually has the Celtics winning Game 1. Sims would have had Boston listed at either -120 or -125, suggesting a whole lot of value on the +165 listed currently.

With that in mind, the Celtics covering a 4-point spread if a three-star (out of four) AccuScore hot trend. Boston covers the spread in 63 percent of simulations.

What to Watch For

Whether it's the rust variable or home court advantage, sim data expects the Celtics to take care of the ball better than the Cavaliers. Keep an eye on how successfully guys like Avery Bradley and Marcus Smart get in the passing lanes. Celtics average more than 3 fewer turnovers than Cavs in sims.

Boston is No. 2 in the league in NBA team opponent three point percentage. If Boston expects to stay competitive in this game and the entire series, defending the three-point line is going to be key. The Cavaliers shot 61-of-131 (46.5%) in four games vs the Raptors. They're projected to finish with no more than 12 three's made on 37 percent shooting.

If the Cavaliers have one glaring weakness, it's their transition defense. This ties back into the Celtics forcing turnovers, but getting buckets in transition would be the best way to get any sort of an advantage against a more talented and bigger roster.