After an extended break, the second-seeded Cleveland Cavaliers enter the Eastern Conference Finals as small road favorites against the top-seeded Boston Celtics for Game 1 on Wednesday.
The Cavaliers have not played since sweeping the third-seeded Toronto Raptors back on May 7, while the Celtics edged the fourth-seeded Washington Wizards in seven games on Monday.
Point spread: The Cavaliers opened as three-point favorites; the total is at 219.5, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark. (Line updates and matchup report)
Why the Cavaliers can cover the spread
Cleveland may have fallen short of topping Boston for the No. 1 seed in the East, but the regular-season series went in its favor. The Cavaliers won three of the four meetings, including a 114-91 rout at TD Garden on April 5 as four-point road underdogs.
They are again the favorites this time and clearly have the best player in the series on their side in LeBron James. The four-time NBA MVP averaged 29.3 points on 54.2 percent shooting from the field along with 9.8 assists and 9.5 rebounds against the Celtics in the four regular-season meetings, and he will be a difficult matchup.
Why the Celtics can cover the spread
Despite losing three of four to Cleveland during the regular season, Boston went 2-1-1 against the spread. Two of the losses took place on the road and were decided by exactly six points, and the Celtics also covered the spread in four of the previous six meetings before that as well.
As good as James has been in the postseason, Boston point guard Isaiah Thomas has shown more heart than any other player following the tragic death of his younger sister. He came up big in a 115-105 Game 7 victory versus the Wizards with 29 points and 12 assists.
Smart betting pick
The Celtics won the NBA draft lottery on Tuesday to get the No. 1 overall pick. While that has nothing to do with Game 1, the team's energy will be at another level, and the extra time off will hurt the Cavaliers.
Look for Boston to be fired up as a home underdog at online sports betting sites and at least cover the series opener, giving Cleveland something to think about.
NBA betting trends
Cleveland is 4-0-2 ATS in its last six games.
The total has gone over in six of Cleveland's last eight games.
The total has gone over in five of Boston's last seven games.
All NBA lines and betting trends courtesy of Bleacher Report’s official odds partner, OddsShark. All quotes gathered firsthand unless otherwise noted. Check out Twitter for injury and line-movement updates and the OddsShark YouTube page for picks and analysis, or download the free odds tracker app.