Free NBA Series Pick: Raptors vs Cavaliers NBA Odds
Looking for Toronto Raptors vs. Cleveland Cavaliers free NBA series picks & NBA odds? NBA betting sees the Raptors taking on the Cavaliers on Tuesday May 1, 2018 at the Air Canada Center in Toronto, Ontario, Canada. Cappers Picks provides complimentary expert handicapping picks on all NBA basketball playoff matchups so stay tuned for more FREE daily NBA hoops predictions.
(59-23) Toronto Raptors vs. Cleveland Cavaliers (50-32)
2018 NBA Playoffs: Eastern Conference Round 2
NBA Series Odds: Raptors -240 | Cavaliers +190
NBA Championship Futures Odds: Raptors +1200, Cavaliers +800
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NBA Series schedule:
- Game 1: Tuesday, May 1, at Toronto, 8:00 p.m., TNT
- Game 2: Thursday, May 3 at Toronto, 6:00 p.m., ESPN
- Game 3: May 5, at Cleveland, 8:30 p.m., ABC
- Game 4: May 7, at Cleveland, 8:30 p.m., TNT
- Game 5 (if necessary): May 9, at Toronto, TBD
- Game 6 (if necessary): May `11, at Cleveland, TBD
- Game 7 (if necessary): May 13, at Toronto, TBD
This marks the third season in a row the Toronto Raptors and Cleveland Cavaliers will matchup in the Eastern Conference segment of the NBA Playoffs. On both previous meetings the Cavaliers prevailed winning in six games in 2016 in the Conference finals while sweeping Toronto last season in the semis.
There are palpable differences this season, but the overriding fact is the Raptors will still need to slay Goliath in order to move on. Toronto benefits from completing their first round series against the Wizards one game earlier and subsequently enter Game 1 on three day’s rest. Conversely the Cavaliers took seven games to finish off the scrappy Pacers and therefore get just one days rest plus have to travel to Toronto.
In season, the Cavaliers took the series 2-1 with the Raptors blowing out Cleveland in Toronto and the retooled Cavaliers taking both meetings on their home court.
Although there were a few moments in the first round series where the Raptors fell back into a lack of ball movement, for the most part the team from North of the border stuck with what earned them the top overall seed in the East.
In the opening round the Raptors continued to set new benchmarks in franchise history. To wit, the Raptors won the opening game of series and also won after trailing at the half on the road, both franchise firsts.
Round one offered lessons to carry forward for the Raptors although most of these tie back to doing what got them the top seed. Look for Toronto to push pace on offense, utilize strong defensive principles on perimeter and transition defense and capitalize on arguably the best NBA reserve unit.
The latter got a shot in the arm with the return of Fred VanVleet for the series clincher. His presence had an immediate effect as all the reserves played more relaxed. VanVleet plays with a calm of a veteran and runs the bench mob with a view to ball and player movement.
Dwane Casey will utilize this unit throughout the playoffs with a view to tiring out the opposing teams starters. This method is partly why the Raptors boast the best fourth quarter defense. Casey has the benefit of using a hybrid unit to close games. Generally the five consist of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan with the three best performers of the game. VanVleet is chief among these inserts to allow both All-Stars the ability to play off the ball.
A key for Toronto moving forward is recognizing the Washington Wizards were not a typical eight seed and which afforded them the benefit of being well prepared to face a strong offense.
Through the first round series the Cleveland Cavaliers looked vulnerable with many of the squad not providing much backup to the best player in the NBA. LeBron James enters the semis having played seven games for the first time ever. Early in his career he played in six game first round series twice, but since returning to Cleveland the Cavaliers have swept the opening round.
James enters the semis having played the most minutes of all NBA players (36.9) and averaged 41.1 minutes through the first round. In comparison the Raptors All-Star backcourt of DeRozan and Lowry averaged just over 36 minutes a full five minutes less than James (plus one less game). How this translates into James fatigue level will be telling throughout the series.
Although the youngsters on the Cavaliers haven’t shown much prowess to this point the more concerning situation is the health of George Hill and Kevin Love. Clearly, these two veterans will be crucial to the Cavaliers advancing yet Hill’s back and Love’s thumb have limited their production.
The only Cavalier scoring in double digits beyond James is Love with 11.4 points. Cleveland will need the forward to produce at a higher clip if they want to stay relevant in the series.
Free Toronto Raptors vs. Cleveland Cavaliers NBA Series Prediction:
Immediately following the sweep by the Cavaliers last season Masai Ujiri committed to a culture change to optimize the Raptors offense. This change was made precisely for this moment and this particular opponent.
For the Raptors who’ve been labeled as playoff chokers this is the stuff movie plots are made of. If the Raptors win the series to end LeBron James consecutive finals appearances surely the label will finally be put to rest.
Getting there however, means taking down the King. Granted, he enters more fatigued than ever having been pushed to the limit in round one. There are those who still won’t bet against James, but the Raptors have a new found confidence, better overall defense and more depth. This is the year they succeed.
4* Free NBA Series Betting Pick: Raptors in 6
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