Ohio Spotlight

May 9, 2024

NBA Playoff Preview: Cavaliers @ Celtics, Game 2

© Winslow Townson-USA TODAY Sports

The Cleveland Cavaliers will look to tie up their second-round NBA playoff series with the Boston Celtics on Thursday night. Cleveland’s road woes throughout the playoffs continued in Game 1, as the Cavaliers lost 120-95. Donovan Mitchell muscled 33 points, although nobody else on the roster managed to surpass 20 points. Evan Mobely grabbed 13 boards, but the Cavaliers were no match for the potent Celtics offense. Guards Derrick White and Jalen Brown combined for 57 points, while Jrue Holiday and Jayson Tatum added another 32. The Cavaliers have yet to win a playoff game on the road this season, and they’ve lost their four road playoff games by an average of 20 points.

The oddsmakers at SuperBook make the Cavs +13.5 underdogs against the spread. While it’s a big number, the line is set that way for a reason. The Celtics are favorites to win the NBA Finals and lost a mere four games at TD Garden during the regular season. Cavs big man Jarrett Allen is listed as questionable after not playing in Game 1. Without Allen in the paint, Cleveland’s defense is simply no match for the Celtics offense. Each member of Boston’s starting five is capable of scoring effectively while playing sound defense on the other end of the floor. Mitchell can continue to score 30+ points a game, but it won’t matter if they can’t clamp down on the defensive side of the ball while also upping the ante on offense. While the Cavs have been putrid on the road, they are also reeling after a tough-fought seven-game series with the Orlando Magic. Boston has had much more time to rest and recover for this series, which showed throughout Game 1.

Jason Schlefsky’s Celtics -13.5

While taking the points with the Cavs might seem enticing, there are several factors that suggest Game 2 could result in another blowout victory for the Celtics. The Cavaliers’ poor performance on the road is a glaring issue, one they must address if they want to have a realistic chance in the series. While the Celtics have slipped up at times this postseason (remember when they dropped a game to the Miami Heat in Round 1?), they should manage to build off their first win against the Cavaliers.

MLS Rivalry Week: FC Cincinnati @ Columbus Crew (Saturday, 7:45 p.m. ET)

© Albert Cesare/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK

Ready for this one, Ohio?

Well, ready or not, it’s here. The one you’ve all been waiting for since the Easter Conference Finals last December. The won that saw the owners of the MLS Supporters Shield champ was upset by its instate rival in 90 minutes of the most intense and grueling action the sport can offer. The one that sent one team packing and one onto hoisting the MLS Cup.

It’s FC Cincy versus Columbus Crew – for the first time since one of the most impactful soccer games in Ohio sports history.

And in case you’ve forgotten, here’s how MLSsoccer.com sets the stage: “Just to refresh your memory: FC Cincinnati went up 2-0 in the first half thanks to goals from Brandon Vazquez and Luciano Acosta. They nearly took a 3-0 lead with 20 minutes remaining, but a Video Review decision canceled out the goal. Moments later, Columbus pulled one back by forcing an own goal. In the 86th minute, Diego Rossi erased the deficit entirely to send the match to extra time. Christian Ramirez then found the net in the 115th minute to give the Crew a 3-2 win and send them on their way to an MLS Cup they absolutely weren’t losing. The result marked the only time all year the Crew pulled off a win while trailing at halftime and the only time all year Cincy failed to earn a win after leading at halftime.”

In this year’s standings, these two teams have been jockeying for conference supremacy since Day 1. And up until recently, it looked as if the Crew was in the driver’s seat.

They are not any longer.

In fact, Cincinnati has essentially flip-flopped spots in the standings. Not long ago, they were looking up at the defending champs. It’s been three straight wins for FC Cincinnati, who is not paired with Columbus, a team that has posted ties in three of their last four games. Currently, Cincinnati holds the second-best record in the East, boasting 21 points already. Columbus is in fifth with just 15 points.

Then again, this one isn’t about points or slotting in the standings.

This one is just pure hatred.

There should be nobody telling any Ohio MLS fans how to think, breathe, drink or eat. So, we’re not going to start here. In a rare instance, our advice here is to bet with your heart and not your head. Truth be told, there’s no amount of money that can make a loss to an in-state rival feel much better.