Walker, Hayward, Brown All Out; Tatum Probable as Celtics Laying 3.5 Points in Cleveland

Boston Celtics
Photo by Keith Allison (Flickr).
  • Kemba Walker, Gordon Hayward, Jaylen Brown are all out for the Boston Celtics’ trip to Cleveland
  • Breakout star Jayson Tatum is probable
  • The Cavaliers own the second-worst record in the NBA

The Cleveland Cavaliers host the Boston Celtics on the night of Wednesday, 4th March, 2020. The Celts arrive in Ohio with a depleted roster — three of its starters are confirmed absentees — while a fourth – All-Star Jayson Tatum – is only probable.

The Cleveland Cavaliers versus Boston Celtics odds favor the C’s by just 3.5 points despite the Cavs sitting with the second-worst record in the association. It’s a game that looks like an easy pick, but the injury news changes that scenario drastically. Our betting preview looks ahead to an intriguing game at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse.

Boston Celtics vs Cleveland Cavaliers Odds

Team Spread Moneyline Odds at BetOnline Over/Under
Boston Celtics -3.5 (-110) -160 Over 216 (-107)
Cleveland Cavaliers +3.5 (-110) +140 Under 216 (-113)

Odds taken Mar. 4.

Cavs Show Good Signs

The Cavaliers have been a better team since the All-Star break. That’s not saying a great deal considering some of their performances earlier in the season, but there’s no doubt that J.B. Bickerstaff has brought some better basketball out of this oddly constructed roster.

They rank 29th in defensive rating on the season and 24th at the other end of the floor. Their 3-4 record under Bickerstaff is hardly headline-grabbing, but there has been improvement at both ends. Cleveland is 19th in offensive and defensive rating over those seven games, and are scoring over three points more per 100 possessions.

It would be premature, and reckless, to get too excited about this short spell. The fit with Darius Garland and Collin Sexton is still a question mark, and the overloaded frontcourt isn’t a long-term solution, but this slight upturn is relevant against an under-strength Celtics club.

Cleveland’s Injury Problems

Boston aren’t the only team suffering an injury crisis. Garland, Dante Exum, Andre Drummond and Alfonso McKinnie are all out for Wednesday’s matchup, while Tristan Thompson is day-to-day. The Cavs have lost three on the bounce and were taxed heavily two nights ago against the Utah Jazz. Kevin Porter played 41 minutes, Sexton, Cedi Osman and Larry Nance were all just shy of the 40 mark.

This Cavs roster isn’t blessed with depths of talent. The absences of Garland and Drummond are significant, but Thompson’s availability could prove crucial. His effort on the defensive end (particularly if Tatum is healthy) will be so important.

Sexton notched 32 points against Utah, and Porter has shown signs of being a player Cleveland can build around. They both have the talent to take over – their duels with All-Defense candidate Marcus Smart will go a long way to deciding the outcome of this one.

Tatum Too Good

As with any elite player, Tatum’s availability looms over this game. Eyeing up the second seed and with other key players absent, Boston will be desperate to get the third-year forward on the floor. Tatum’s presence changes the balance of this game drastically, and would make it very hard to bet against the Celtics, even with Walker, Hayward and Brown all sidelined.

Cavs fans will be feeling more positive than they were a month or so ago. The injuries, and a short rotation, make it trickier to back them here, however, despite the potential Sexton and Porter have shown.

It’s a very difficult game to predict, but the prospect of Tatum just gives the Celts the edge as they look to recover from consecutive overtime losses.

Pick: Boston Celtics -3.5 (-110)

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