2017 NBA Playoffs
Eastern Conference Semifinals
#2 Cleveland Cavaliers vs #3 Toronto Raptors
Best of Seven Series Format: 2-2-1-1-1
Series Price: Cavaliers -465 / Raptors +370 (Odds Courtesy of 5Dimes Sportsbooks)
Game #1 – Monday, May 1, 2017, 7:00 pm Eastern, TV: TNT
Quicken Loans Arena – Cleveland, Ohio
Opening Line: Cleveland -6 1/2
Current Line: Cleveland -6 1/2
Opening Total: 208 1/2
Current Total: 208 1/2
Opening Money Line: Cavaliers -310 /Raptors +255
Current Money Line: Cavaliers -300 / Raptors +250
The Cleveland Cavaliers and Toronto Raptors finished with identical 51-31 records in the regular season. The Cavaliers are the #2 seed in the Eastern Conference playoffs by the tie breaker. Cleveland won the Central Division and Toronto was second in the Atlantic Division. Both teams were two games behind the Boston Celtics for the best record in the East. The winner will face either the #1 seed Celtics or the #4 Washington Wizards in the Eastern Conference Finals.
Both teams survived tough first round series. Although Cleveland swept the #7 seed Indiana Pacers, every game was decided by 6 points or less. Cleveland won game four April 23 106-102 in Indianapolis. The Cavaliers have had a week off to rest. Toronto beat the #6 seed Milwaukee Bucks in six games in the first round. After going down 2-1 in the series, the Raptors won the last three games of the series. This includes a 92-89 win last Thursday in Milwaukee to close out the series.
Toronto is coached by Dwane Casey. Toronto is 48-39-1 ATS and the total is 46-42 this season. Cleveland is coached by Tyronn Lue. The Cavaliers are 38-45-3 ATS and the total is 50-35-1 this season.
Cleveland won the regular season series 3-1 but the three Cavalier wins all happened on or before December 5. Toronto won on the road in the regular season finale at Cleveland 98-93 but the Cavaliers rested their starters in that game. This is the second year in a row Toronto and Cleveland will meet in the playoffs. The Cavaliers beat the Raptors in six games in the Eastern Conference Finals last year en route to their first NBA title in franchise history.
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Toronto is outscoring teams 107-103 this season. The Raptors are in the top ten in both categories this season. Toronto is shooting 46.4% from the field and 36.3% from three point range. The Raptors make 79.6% of their free throws and are #8 in that category. Opponents are shooting 44.9% from the field and 35.4% from three point range. The Raptors are #6 in field goal defense. Toronto averages 43.3 rebounds per game and opponents average 42.1 per game. The Raptors are #6 in rebounds allowed. Toronto averages 18.5 assists, 11.8 turnovers, 8.3 steals and 4.9 blocks per game.
Guard DeMar DeRozan averages 27.3 points per game, 5.2 rebounds, 3.9 assists and 1.1 steals per game. Guard Kyle Lowry averages 22.4 points, 4.8 rebounds, 7 assists, and 1.5 steals per game. Forward Serge Ibaka, acquired in a midseason trade with the Orlando Magic, averages 14.2 points, 6.8 rebounds and 1.4 blocks per game. Center Jonas Valanciunas averages 12 points and 9.5 rebounds per game. Terrance Ross averages 10.4 points and 2.6 rebounds per game. DeMarre Carroll, Luis Scola, Cory Joseph, Norman Powell, Patrick Patterson, P.J. Tucker and Delon Wright will also get some minutes in the rotation.
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Cleveland is outscoring teams 110-107 this season. Cleveland is #4 in scoring but #20 in points allowed. The Cavaliers are shooting 47% from the field including 38.4% from three point range. Cleveland is in the top five in both categories. The Cavaliers make 74.8% of their free throws and are #23 in that category. Opponents are shooting 45.8% from the field and 36.1% from three point range. Cleveland averages 43.8 rebounds per game and opponents average 44.2 per game. The Cavaliers average 22.7 assists, 13.7 turnovers, 6.6 steals and 4 blocks per game.
LeBron James averages 26.4 points, 8.6 rebounds, 8.7 assists and 1.2 steals per game. James is having another MVP quality season. Kyrie Irving averages 25.2 points, 3.2 rebounds, 5.8 assists and 1.2 steals per game. Kevin Love averages 19 points, 11.1 rebounds and 1.9 assists per game. He missed around 20 games with a knee injury and several games down the stretch for rest. Kyle Korver averages 10.7 points and 2.8 rebounds per game. Channing Frye averages 9.1 points and 3.9 rebounds per game. J.R. Smith averages 8.6 points, 2.8 rebounds and 1.5 assists per game. Richard Jefferson, Tristan Thompson, Iman Shumpert, Deron Williams, and Derrick Williams will also get minutes in the rotation. Kay Felder is questionable with a leg injury.
Toronto is 5-1 ATS in road games, 4-1 in Monday games and against teams with winning home records, and 9-3 on three or more days rest. The road team is 5-0 ATS in this series recently.
Cleveland is 5-1 ATS on three or more days rest, 4-1 in conference semifinal games, 16-35-2 in Monday games, 0-4 at home, 0-5 against teams with winning records, and 0-2-2 against teams with winning road records.
The Cavaliers swept their first round series. However, the lapses on defense that plagued them during the regular season continued during the series against the Pacers. It was said Cleveland would “flip the switch” into playoff mode, but if they don’t fix their defensive issues quickly they could be ripe for the upset. As for Toronto, the Raptors need their stars DeRozan and Lowry to be way more consistent and to play like the all-stars they are. Still, I like the Cavaliers to win the series in six games and it starts with a win in game one at home.