So maybe this year’s Eastern Conference semifinal series won’t be all that competitive between the No. 2 Cleveland Cavaliers and No. 3 Toronto Raptors. Monday’s Game 1 sure wasn’t and Cleveland is solidly favored to take Wednesday’s Game 2. The Cavs took Game 1 at home court by 11 points. The Raptors have encountered the Cavaliers before in the Playoffs, like in last year’s Eastern Conference Finals, which we all know Cleveland won at the end and took the Championship. Will the NBA lines be in the Raptors favor on Wednesday night?
Toronto at Cleveland NBA Playoffs Lines & Game 2 Prediction
Why Bet On Toronto?
Right now I’m having trouble finding a reason after the Raptors were largely dominated in Game 1, 116-105 on Monday. The Cavaliers looked very beatable in the first round against the Indiana Pacers but not in that game.
The Raptors have now lost 10 straight Game 1s, breaking a tie with the Sacramento Kings (1981-2001) for the longest streak of its kind in NBA history. The Raptors are 1-12 all-time in Game 1s – a 0.083 win percentage, the worst among active franchises and the 2nd-worst all time among all franchises.
Jonas Valanciunas returned to the starting lineup for Monday’s Game 1 vs. the Cavs, sending Norman Powell back to the bench. Powell was brought into the starting five during Toronto’s first-round series to better matchup with Milwaukee, but Dwane Casey went with his normal starting five of Kyle Lowry, DeMar DeRozan, DeMarre Carroll, Serge Ibaka and Valanciunas to go up against Cleveland’s more traditional frontcourt.
Valanciunas finished with just six points (3-of- 7 FGs), six rebounds and one block in 21 minutes. Casey has said many times that J-Val won’t play much if he’s not dominating when he’s out there, so it looks like his minutes could be held in check in Round 2 just like they were against the Bucks.
Powell scored 12 points off the bench in Game 1. The Raptors were 3-0 against the Bucks with Powell in the starting lineup. Powell played just 21 minutes and finished 3-of- 11 from the field, adding two triples, two rebounds and two steals. His minutes will likely be lower in this series because Toronto needs P.J.
Tucker’s defense on LeBron James. It also helps Powell’s case that Carroll was ineffective in his 15 minutes.
Lowry had 20 points. He said before the game that his back is doing a lot better than it was in Round 1 and it appeared that way as he was the best player on Toronto in Game 1 by a mile. He finished 7-of- 13 from the field in 40 minutes and dished out a playoff career-high 11 assists. DeMar DeRozan added 19 for the Raptors, who were within seven in the third quarter before James took over.
With trade acquisitions Ibaka and Tucker, this Toronto team seemed better equipped to beat Cleveland than the one which lost in six games in last year’s playoffs. Not yet.
Why Bet On Cleveland?
Some thought the Cavaliers would be rusty after a week off following a sweep of Indiana, but that wasn’t the case Monday. LeBron dropped 35 points. Even with Tucker all over him, LeBron finished 13-of-23 from the field and 7-of- 8 from the line, adding 10 rebounds, four assists, one steal, one block andtwo triples in 41 minutes.
James needs 25 points to pass Kareem Abdul-Jabbar (5,762 points) for second place on the league’s postseason scoring list, and two 3-pointers to join Ray Allen, Reggie Miller and Manu Ginobili as the only players to connect on 300 postseason 3s. James has scored at least 30 in 88 playoff games, tying Kobe Bryant for second on the career list. Only Michael Jordan (109) has more.
Kyrie Irving scored 24 points on 7-of- 16 shooting in Game 1. He was ridiculous +32 in his 35 minutes, adding 10 assists, two rebounds, two steals and three 3-pointers. Irving passed Craig Ehlo for the 3rd most assists (164) in Cleveland’s postseason history. Kevin Love added 18 points, nine rebounds and three triples for the Cavaliers, while Tristan Thompson finished with 11 points, 14 rebounds and two steals.
It was clear that a primary facet of the Cavs’ game plan developed during their seven days off was to slow down DeRozan. Over the first three quarters, DeRozan was minus-29 in plus/minus, a number that showed just how effective the Cavs’ strategy was. DeRozan finished a game-worst minus-32. the Raptors shot only 43.3 percent through three quarters, with just eight free throw attempts. Overall, the Raptors were held to 43.8 percent from the field and 20 free throw attempts for the game.
The only negative was J.R. Smith tweaked his surgically repaired right thumb in Game 1. It’s thought Smith will be good to play here.
Toronto at Cleveland NBA Playoffs Game 2 Pick: Cleveland Cavaliers
The Cavs have beaten the Raptors easily in the four playoff games in Cleveland over the past two years, winning by an average margin of 24.8 points.