May 1, 2017
Two NBA picks have been released in advance, for Tuesday and Monday respectively!
Take Toronto Raptors +7 spread (buy the half point) against Cleveland Cavaliers for 3% of the bankroll.
The perception of these two teams heading into this series (arguably) couldn't be more different. The Cavaliers are the premier team in the Eastern Conference and managed to sweep their first-round opponents in 4 games to move advance to the semi-finals while the Toronto Raptors were involved in an extremely physical and competitive series with the Milwaukee Bucks that saw them nearly cough up a 25-point lead in the closing minutes of their Game 6 battle. It would be easy to assume that the Cavaliers will simply pick up where they left off with the Pacers and 'easily' run through the Raptors as well, however we don't necessarily believe that will be the case, especially tonight in Game 1.
While the Cavs made somewhat 'easy' work of the Pacers, that series was much closer than the final results indicated. Cleveland won the four games by a total of 16 points with six points being their largest margin of victory in that series. Love struggled in Games 3 and 4 while Irving sat out the fourth quarter of Game 3. The Cleveland bench also didn't contribute much in that series which led to the Big 3 logging an incredibly hefty workload. It will be interesting to see just how long, James, Love and Irving can continue to carry this team.
The Cavs have also struggled on the defensive side of the ball which allowed Paul George to do basically anything he wanted to on the offensive side of the ball. We also saw what Lance Stephenson was able to contribute for his team in somewhat of a reserve role. The Cavs could have their hands full with guys like Lowry, DeRozan and Ibaka, all of which are capable of posting up huge numbers on any given night. Despite those 3 players, Norman Powell has been turning things on recently and could be a wildcard coming into this series. If the Cavs focus most of their attention on stopping Toronto's Big 3, that could leave Powell open to having a huge game tonight.
While many will look at the Cavaliers sweeping the Pacers as a good thing, we actually expect their quick work to hurt them in this contest. The Cavs have been sitting idle for over a week, which means that they will likely come into this game a bit rusty. That could cause issues for them in the early going while they become accustomed to playing at game speed. If that is the case and they fall behind early, that could cause them issues trying to cover this hefty spread.
While the Cavs have sat idle, the Raptors are in full on competitive mode having just concluded their series with the Milwaukee Bucks on Thursday. The Raptors have also shown their ability to play in hostile territory as two of their wins in the opening series came on the road. Toronto's defense has been absolutely stifling with the addition of Ibaka in the rotation and they should be able to keep things competitive at least in the opening game of this series. The Cavs may ultimately come away with the victory, however, this is simply too many points to give a team who is red-hot at the moment.
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