The Cleveland Cavaliers might be a bit rusty when they host the Toronto Raptors in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference semifinals on Monday as the Cavs have been off for a week since they swept out the Indiana Pacers in the first round. The Raptors are coming off a series against the Milwaukee Bucks, which ended at 4-2 this past Thursday. Both teams meet again in the Playoffs. In last year’s Conference Round, the Cavs took the win, heading to the NBA Finals and winning it. . Cleveland is a solid Game 1 favorite vs. the Raptors and a sizable NBA lines favorite on the series line.
Toronto at Cleveland NBA Playoffs Lines & Game 1 Betting Analysis
Why Bet On Toronto?
The Raptors defeated the Bucks, 92-89, on Thursday night to take their first-round playoff series in six games, setting up a rematch of last year’s Eastern Conference Finals. Toronto dropped the season-series (1-3) to Cleveland, with all three losses being by four points or less. DeMar DeRozan averaged a team-high 29.7 points in three games against the Cavs this year, including two 30-point performances.
Norman Powell averaged 12.4 points (fourth on the team) in five games played and scored in double figures three times in the first-round versus Milwaukee. Powell started the final three games, scoring a playoff career-high 25 points in Game 5. He shot 10-for- 11 (.909) from three-point range in the series.
The Raptors have added DeMarre Carroll, Serge Ibaka and PJ Tucker the past two years, Ibaka and Tucker around this season’s trade deadline, because they know the East goes through LeBron James. Do they have enough bodies to wear him down?
Toronto coach Dwane Casey on the keys to holding LeBron in check: “Three point shooting after (LeBron’s) penetration, his post-ups, his isos. It’s three-point shooting and rebounding as the third thing. They’re kind of all clumped together because one creates the other and it’s a chain reaction. We have to make sure the progression is there of how we stop each phase of it.”
Toronto ranks first in points allowed (93.2) and sixth in opponent field goal percentage (.415) during the 2017 NBA Playoffs. The Raptors held Milwaukee to less than 100 points four times in their first-round series, including each of the last three games. Toronto was 25-4 during the regular season when holding opponents below 100 points.
Why Bet On Cleveland?
The Cavaliers beat the Raptors in last year’s East Finals, winning each game by at least 19 points. Cavs coach Tyronn Lue dismissed criticism about his decision to play LeBron 43.8 minutes per game during Cleveland’s first-round sweep of the Pacers.
“I don’t understand why people make a big deal out of his minutes,” Lue said. “He had a week off before the series started. We won four straight games and then he had a week off again. So next [game] he might play 48 minutes.” Lue also said that giving LeBron heavy minutes during the regular season “has helped him in the playoffs… Now he is able to play those 42, 43 minutes.”
James helped the Cavs complete their first-round sweep of the Pacers last Sunday with 33 points, 10 rebounds, four assists, four steals, two blocks, one 3-pointer and four turnovers in 45 minutes. James has now won 21-straight first-round games, which is the longest streak by any player since 1984, and this was also his 10th sweep in a Best-of- 7 playoff series which amounts to the most sweeps by any player in NBA history.
James (5,703 PTS) is 60 points shy of passing Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (5,762) for 2nd place on the NBA’s all-time playoff scoring list. James (296 3FGM) can also become just the 4th player in league history to make 300 three-pointers in the postseason with four triples (Ray Allen 385, Reggie Miller 320 & Manu Ginobili 311). Kyrie Irving (160 AST) needs five assists to overtake Craig Ehlo (164 AST) for 3rd place in the team’s playoff record book.
Kyrie Irving averaged 25.3 points in the First Round against Indiana, which included a 37-point outing in Game 2 on April 17. Over his career, he has finished with at least 20 points in 28 of 38 career postseason games, including 21 of his last 25 playoff contests.
Going back to the 2015 postseason, the Cavs hold a 28-4 playoff record against Eastern Conference opponents, which includes a 15-1 mark at home.
Toronto at Cleveland NBA Playoffs Betting Pick: Cleveland Cavaliers
The Raptors are just 1-11 in their past 12 playoff series openers.