No. 4 Cleveland takes on No. 1 Toronto in the first game of the Eastern Conference semifinal from Toronto. The Cavs had some issues with Indiana, but finished them off in seven games on Sunday. The Raptors ended Washington’s season on Friday night, winning on the road in the sixth game, 102-92. In the regular season, Cleveland took two of three games.
LeBron carries the Cavs
Newsflash: LeBron James is good. If the Cavs finished stronger, James would or should be a lock for the MVP. But being the best player in the NBA, doesn’t always equate to being the most valuable player. However, on Sunday, James was the MVP, the best player and most clutch person on the court against Indiana. He scored 45 points, grabbed nine rebounds and dished out seven assists. The Cavs dominated Game 7, even though the score didn’t say so (105-101). James played over 43 minutes, while shooting 16-of-25 from the field. The rest of his teammates struggled other than Tristan Thompson, who delivered with 15 points and 10 rebounds on 5-of-6 shooting. George Hill was the only effective player off the bench, scoring 11 points and grabbing six boards in 19 minutes.
Even James admits that he’s tired and “burnt” after averaging 41.2 minutes per game in the first-round series that took seven games. He also played all 82 games in the regular season, yet it hasn’t slowed him down-yet. He averaged 29.3 points per game, 8.0 assists and 6.7 rebounds during the regular season against Toronto. They need more from Kevin Love, who averaged just 11.4 points per game in the first round, while shooting just 33 percent from the floor.
Bench key to Raptors’ success
DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry are All-Star caliber players but the key to Toronto’s success is their bench. Many of those bench players including Delon Wright, Fred VanVleet, C.J. Miles, and Pascal Siakam, often end up on the floor in crunch time. Those players along with center Jakob Poeltl contributed 34 points in their 102-92 win over the Wizards in Game 6. Yet sure, DeRozan is the team’s best player, who averaged 26.7 points per game and is a tough cover due to his size at shooting guard at 6-7. Lowry added 19.8 points on 50.9 percent shooting over the final four games against Washington, including making 15-of-27 from three-point range.
VanVleet might be the x-factor in this series. The second-year point guard from Wichita State missed most of the Wizards’ series due to a shoulder injury and played mainly in the last game, scoring five points with four assists. On the season, he averaged 8.6 points and 3.2 assists, while shooting 41.4 percent from 3-point range this season.
- 1-7 ATS last 8 overall.
- 1-5 ATS last 6 after playing on 1 days rest.
- 5-0-1 ATS last 6 home games.
- The favorite is 5-2-1 ATS last 8 in this series.
Cleveland was destroyed in their first game against Indiana at home by 18 and wound up losing their first road game in the series by two. Expect another blowout in this one as James should have tired legs (finally) after going through that tough series. Toronto’s bench is just too good and the squad has two extra days off. They may not win the series, but the Raptors cruised in the first game.