The Celtics’ status as frequent betting underdogs has been one of the more intriguing storylines of this postseason. Boston opened as an underdog in every game of its second-round series against Philadelphia, yet won the series in five games. The Celtics also opened as home underdogs against the Cavs in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals, only to blow the Cavs out of the water early en route to a 108-83 rout.
On Wednesday night, the C’s delivered for those who bet on them once again, entering Game 5 of the series as the slightest of favorites and covering the spread with ease in a 96-83 victory that gave them a 3-2 series lead. The win made Boston a perfect 10-0 at home in the postseason. And with home-court advantage for a hypothetical Game 7 in the bag, the Celtics deserve to be favored to win the series.
The Celtics, though, have been a different team on the road, where they’re 1-6 this postseason. So it was no surprise that Boston opened as a 7-point underdog in Game 6.
Celtics vs. Cavs Game 6 Betting Preview
Game 6 is scheduled for 8:30 p.m. ET on Friday night in Cleveland. Pinnacle has the Cavs as 7-point favorites, with an over-under of 201.5.
Fivethirtyeight’s CARMELO model has Cleveland as a 5-point favorite and gives the Cavs a 69 percent chance to win the game. In a hypothetical Game 7, CARMELO has the Celtics as 2-point favorites, and gives them a 57 percent chance to win.
After falling into an 0-2 series hole, Cleveland opened as a 5-point favorite in Game 3, then covered the spread with ease in a 116-86 blowout.
Cleveland opened as a 6.5-point home favorite in Game 4, and once again covered, though without much room to spare, in a 111-102 victory.
The Celtics won outright as a betting underdog in Game 3 of the Philadelphia series, but they’ve lost both outright and against the spread in the three road games they’ve played since: Game 4 of the Sixers series, and Games 3 and 4 of the Cavs series.
Celtics vs. Game 6 Betting Pick
The Cavs’ relatively narrow margin of victory in Game 4 belies the extent to which Cleveland dominated both games this series on its home floor. A look at ESPN’s win probability chart for Game 4 tells the complete story: The Celtics’ win probability peaked at 51.1 percent when they led 6-4 early in the first quarter. It was all downhill from there, as the Cavs built a double-digit lead in the first quarter and maintained it for almost the entire game. The Cavs’ win probability reached 90 percent early in the second quarter and didn’t dip below 80 percent the rest of the way.
How dominant were the Cavs in their two home games? As ESPN’s Mike Breen pointed out on Wednesday’s Game 5 telecast, the Celtics held the lead for a grand total of 1:13 in those two games combined. Beyond the opening minutes of each game, there wasn’t a moment when the Celtics looked like they had a chance. Since getting blown out in Game 1 of their opening round series against the Pacers, the Cavs have won seven straight at home.
I’ve been bullish on the Celtics relative to betting markets’ assessment of them for a while, and given the way they’ve played at home, I’d bet a lot of money on them winning the series. If they make the finals, I’d bet on them to win at least one game — and maybe more — against Houston or Golden State, either of whom will be heavily favored to win the title.
I wouldn’t be shocked if the Celtics pulled off the W in Game 6. But the Cavs deserve to be favored somewhat heavily given the way Games 3 and 4 played out. If the spread was in the 4-or-5 point range, I’d consider it close to a no-brainer in favor of the Cavs. The 7-point spread makes me a little uneasy, especially given how run-down LeBron looked during Game 5. But if I had to, I’d take Cleveland giving as many as 10 points. I doubt this game will be a bloodbath. But I don’t think it’ll be a nail-biter, either.
Celtics-Cavs Game 6 Pick: Cavs win and cover the 7 points.