Cleveland Cavaliers @ Boston Celtics Game 1 Pick

The Eastern Conference Finals will begin in earnest on Wednesday after the Number 1 Seeded Boston Celtics needed Game 7 to see off the Washington Wizards in the Conference Semi Finals. That does mean the Celtics have only had a day of rest between that Game 7 and the opening of the Eastern Conference Finals and it is no surprise the oddsmakers have set them as the home underdog.

While Boston have been battling back from 2-0 down in the First Round and being forced into a Game 7 in the Semi Finals, their opponents the Cleveland Cavaliers have swept through both Rounds to earn an 8-0 record in the Play Offs. It also means they have been off for nine days since beating the Toronto Raptors and long lay offs in the Play Offs have not always produced winning teams against the spread.

You have to expect the Boston Celtics have some elements of fatigue in the rotation, but they will be in rhythm compared with the Cleveland Cavaliers who will be looking to get back into real game competitiveness after the lay off. That could potentially take some time for them to get back to the level they were producing earlier in the Play Offs and makes the spread a little harder to figure out than you may think.

Cleveland have been speaking about the anxiety some players have to get back out on the court, and the Cavaliers will be confident having beaten Boston in three of four games in the regular season. However potentially being out of rhythm is part of the reason I am going to back ‘under’ the total points line in this one.

If Boston are feeling tired, that could mean their intensity is not quite as high as they would like in Game 1 which could see them struggle to make their shots as effectively as usual. The ‘under’ is actually 10-4 in the last fourteen games between these teams and also 6-0 in the last six here in Boston and I can see these teams failing to reach what is a very high target for Game 1.

I am anticipating both teams will just have some issues finding the kind of scoring needed to cover this total points line with Boston off an emotional series and Cleveland being rested for ten days ahead of this one. That looks to be the best play from Game 1 as the Eastern Conference Finals gets underway before Game 2 is played on Friday.

Handicap Betting Recommendation: Boston Celtics-Cleveland Cavaliers Under 219.5 Points at 1.95

Prices correct at the time of writing.

By @DavAulak

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