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Last Updated Aug 30, 2021, 14:04 PM

Game 7 - Cavaliers at Celtics

Game 7 Winners | Daily Projections

Eastern Conference Finals – Game 7
Cleveland at Boston (ESPN, 8:30 p.m. ET)

The phrase “A playoff series hasn’t started until a road team wins” applies in the Eastern Conference Finals. For the second time in three playoff series, the Celtics are headed to a Game 7 at TD Garden as the home teams own a perfect 6-0 record between Boston and Cleveland. Needless to say that plenty is on line for Sunday’s matchup in Beantown, most notably LeBron James looking to extend his run to the NBA Finals to eight straight seasons with a win.

James and the Cavaliers faced elimination in Friday’s Game 6 at Quicken Loans Arena, but Cleveland came through by defeating Boston, 109-99 to cash as seven-point favorites and stay alive for at least one more game. The four-time league Most Valuable Player did the heavy lifting once again by scoring 46 points, pulling down 11 rebounds, and dishing out nine assists. James knocked down a pair of three-pointers in the final two minutes to pick up some breathing room from the feisty Celtics as the Cavaliers improved to 3-0 in the last three playoff games at home since 2016 when sitting one loss away from elimination.

The Cavaliers’ role players needed to step up and they did after Kevin Love exited the game five minutes in following a collision with Boston’s Jayson Tatum. Guard George Hill scored a playoff-best 20 points for Cleveland, while Jeff Green and Larry Nance, Jr. combined to put up 24 points off the bench. Besides James hitting 5-of-7 three-point attempts, the rest of the Cavaliers struggled from downtown by shooting 4-of-16.

Boston’s road record dropped to a dreadful 1-7 in the postseason following Friday’s setback, as all six games in this series have been decided by nine points or more. The good news for Boston is it shot the ball better in Game 6 at 51% from the floor, compared to 36.5% in the Game 5 victory. Young guns Terry Rozier and Jaylen Brown combined to score 55 points, while Rozier connected on 6-of-10 three-point attempts. Al Horford was pretty non-existent by putting up six points on 2-of-8 shooting, while Boston struggled from the line by converting on 11-of-20 free throw attempts.

So Brad Stevens’ team transitions from the bad road Celtics to the tremendous home Celtics for Game 7. Boston has yet to lose a game at TD Garden in the postseason at 10-0, which includes a Game 7 blowout of Milwaukee in the first round. In fact, Boston has won 14 of its past 15 home games dating back to a late rally to surprise Oklahoma City on March 20. Boston’s defense hasn’t allowed more than 94 points in any of the three home wins against Cleveland in this series, while incredibly covering in all 10 home victories.

The Cavaliers will be without Love for Game 7, who is still in the concussion protocol. Love averaged 17.6 points per game in the regular season, but that number dropped to 13.9 ppg in the playoffs. Cleveland put together a 13-10 record without Love in the lineup this season, including an 8-4 mark away from Quicken Loans Arena.

Even though Sunday’s decisive matchup is being played at TD Garden, Chris David of VegasInsider.com was surprised by the opening number posted for Boston.

He explained, “I thought this game should’ve opened at a pick ‘em but the books are factoring in the status of Love. While he’s the second option for the Cavs, he’s been anything but spectacular in this series or the playoffs. For me, this is LeBron against Boston and when I see the Cavs catching points albeit small, I tend to lean to the opinion of the oddsmakers.”

“For the most part, Boston has lived up to those expectations as a favorite against LeBron. Since James returned to Cleveland in the 2014-15 season, the Cavaliers have been listed as road ‘dogs six times at TD Garden which includes Game 5 of this series. Cleveland is just 2-4 in those games and three of the setbacks came by double digits,” added David.

While David wasn’t keen on the opening number on Boston, he believes the total for Game 7 is correct and he expects another low-scoring affair.

“This number has already dropped off the opener (201 ½ to 200) and I would expect the total to close in the nineties by tip-off on Sunday. The ‘under’ is 5-1 in this series and the low side was never in doubt in four of those results. Outside of two ridiculous scoring efforts (128, 113) in the conference semis against Toronto, the Cavaliers are averaging 90.1 PPG on the road in the playoffs,” he said.

“Even though both Boston and Cleveland saw their first Game 7 matchups in this year’s postseason go ‘over’ against Milwaukee and Indiana respectively, these decisive matchups often become tight games. Possessions will certainly be at a premium on Sunday and barring loose whistles by the officials, I don’t see the winner scoring triple digits in this contest. Along with leaning to the ‘under’ in the game, I would press the low side in each half and lean to the team totals low for both clubs.”

NBA expert Tony Mejia gives his spin on the Love injury, “Stevens can see exactly what went wrong on Friday while also being able to produce counters for what Cleveland did well with Green on the floor. The former No. 4 pick is now the x-factor and has actually performed better than Love in the series since the concussed All-Star averaged just 12 points over the course of Games 3 through 5 while getting picked on defensively. The line remained in the 2.5-point range immediately after the news broke that Love would be sidelined, so oddsmakers aren’t putting too much importance on his absence.”

James no doubt flourishes when a series is on the line, as his teams have been successful to the tune of 5-2 in Game 7’s in his career.

LeBron James - Game 7 History
Year - Round Opponent Stat Line SU/ATS Results
2006 EC Semis at Detroit 27 points, 8 rebounds, 2 assists L/L
2008 EC Semis at Boston 45 points, 5 rebounds, 6 assists L/W
2012 EC Finals vs. Boston 31 points, 12 rebounds, 2 assists W/W
2013 EC Finals vs. Indiana 32 points, 8 rebounds, 4 assists W/W
2013 NBA Finals vs. San Antonio 37 points, 12 rebounds, 4 assists W/W
2016 NBA Finals at Golden State 27 points, 11 rebounds, 11 assists W/W
2018 EC Quarters vs. Indiana 45 points, 8 rebounds, 7 assists W/L


Also, the UNDER was on a 6-0 streak in the first six games prior to an OVER cashed against Indiana in the first round victory. That game should have finished UNDER the closing total of 200 ½ as Cleveland led 102-96 with 24 seconds remaining prior to eight points scored down the stretch.

James has never won a Game 7 on the road against an Eastern Conference team in his career, while the Cavaliers own an 0-4 record in the playoffs on the highway following a home win with three of the losses coming by double-digits.

You can reach Kevin Rogers via e-mail at [email protected]

Kevin Rogers can be followed on Twitter at virogers.

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