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DNP // Celtics vs. Cavaliers prediction, odds, schedule for 2024 NBA Playoffs second round series

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The Celtics cruised through their first round series with the Heat, winning in five games. Meanwhile, the Cavs barely got here, using the full seven-game allotment to advance past the Magic. On paper, Boston should have a huge advantage over Orlando. 

Boston will face a tougher battle due to Kristaps Porzingis’ calf injury, which will likely keep him out of the entire series. He was arguably the second-best Celtic in the regular season, and his size would have been helpful in the matchup with the jumbo-sized Cavs.

Despite missing Porzingis’ 20.1 points and 7.2 rebounds that the big man averaged during the regular season, the Celtics are still going to be pretty massive favorites. Cleveland does have a chance, though. Here are the key factors going into this second-round series. 

MORE: Complete list of winners for NBA’s end-of-season awards

The Cavs once looked like the biggest challengers to the Celtics in the Eastern Conference. They went through a stretch starting on Jan. 3 where they won 17 of 18 games. They have not been able to recreate that magic since, going 13-18 after that hot stretch. 

The fit between Darius Garland, Donovan Mitchell, Jarrett Allen, and Evan Mobley simply hasn’t worked for most of the year. Injuries kept some of those guys out of the lineup during the most successful part of their season. There is a lot of talent on this roster, but the pieces don’t fit well together. 

This series is going to be an even bigger uphill climb because of how banged-up the Cavs’ big men are. Jarrett Allen missed Games 5, 6, and 7 of the first round with a rib contusion, and Evan Mobley was nursing a sore ankle through Games 6 and 7.

The Celtics aren’t at full strength either. However, despite the loss of Porzingis, Boston has a pretty clear edge here. They have been cruising, and they still have the ability to put five plus offensive and defensive players on the floor at all times. Al Horford is a playoff-tested replacement who should be able to hold the fort at center. 

Cleveland does have an excellent defense that can at least slow Boston down a bit, but they haven’t been playing their best ball, and their offensive struggles were very evident in their previous series. They’re not going to be able to keep pace with the star power that Boston has.

Prediction: Celtics in four

Odds have not yet been posted for this matchup. Check back soon for series prices from BetMGM.

The Celtics had the advantage in the regular season series, taking it 2-1. 

In their first matchup, the Cavs were on the back end of a road back-to-back. They still put up a great effort, taking an early lead before their offense shut down in crunch time. 

The teams had one day of rest before facing off again at TD Garden. The Celtics led comfortably for most of the game until a late run by the Cavs to cut it to 3 at the end of the third quarter. A flurry of Tatum baskets put that game back out of reach.

The third game was one of the most memorable of the regular season. Dean Wade scored 20 fourth-quarter points, and the Cavs snapped Boston’s 11-game win streak. Cleveland played without Donovan Mitchell, and Evan Mobley left the game in the third quarter with an ankle injury. They didn’t need either player because of Wade’s heroics. 

The Cavs do have the potential to make this a series. They beat the Celtics once in the regular season after a torrid 20-of-42 shooting performance from 3. That was how the Heat stole Game 2 in their first-round series, hitting 53.5 percent of their 3’s in a 111-101 victory.

Getting up those 3s was also the driver of the Cavs’ best stretch of the season. They changed their shot profile to focus more on creating those shots. They have some gunners capable of getting them up. There have to be big shooting performances from Wade, Sam Merrill, Max Strus, Caris LeVert, and Georges Niang for the Cavs to hang. 

They also need more consistent play from Garland. Mitchell did his part during the first round, carrying the Cavs to some impressive wins. Garland has looked lost for much of the playoffs though. He was once an All-Star thanks to his scoring and playmaking. He needs to be the clear No. 2 player for Cleveland for them to have a puncher’s chance. 

If the Cavs aren’t hitting their 3s, then it is going to be a slog to break 100 points. They failed to do so in five of their games against the Magic. This is a better defense that they’re facing in the Celtics. If they continue to be consistently held under triple digits, then they have zero shot of winning this series. 

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