NBA Playoffs Vegas Online Sports Betting & Predictions Saturday May 5th, 2018
Toronto Looks to Get Back Into Series at Cleveland
The Toronto Raptors changed their whole approach this season in an attempt to take down the Cleveland Cavaliers in the playoffs. After two straight seasons where LeBron James and company beat them convincingly, they needed to modernize their game, moving away from isolation scoring by its two superstars and into a rhythm offense that knows how to shoot threes.
And until this series started, that plan looked to be working wonders as the Raptors were the best team in the Eastern Conference this season and then defeated a Washington team that was much better than its eight seed indicated.
Perhaps if Toronto had found a way to hang on in game one, this narrative would be very different, but in the end even though the Raptors never trailed through regulation, the Cavaliers clawed back, forced overtime and escaped with a 113-112 victory.
LeBron James was his usual amazing self with a triple double of 26 points, 13 assists and 11 rebounds.
Considering the Cavs had won eight of nine games in the previous two post seasons against the Raptors, it’s fair to say Toronto needed that win a lot more than Cleveland did for psychological side of things.
That fact was confirmed in game two as a Cleveland team that was teetering on the brink of elimination just a few days ago against Indiana, seemed to have fully regained its mojo. They played their best game of the playoffs, James was in beast mode and their coach Ty Lue seemed to have an answer for everything his counterpart Dwayne Casey threw at him.
At the top of the list was shifting Kevin Love from his usual power forward spot to center and the Raptors had no answer for him. Love scored 31 points and had 11 rebounds which was by far his best performance this playoff after a dismal start. Meanwhile James had 43 points and 14 assists to lead the way.
The game was a tight one until the third quarter. Toronto led 63-61 at the half, but were then outscored by 13 as Cleveland put the game out of reach.
Figuring out a way to slow down James is Toronto’s top priority and up till now they’ve tried both small ball and large lineups and it hasn’t worked. They need some combination of Serge Ibaka, Jonas Valanciunas, OG Anunoby and Pascal Siakam to step up and get the stops while maintaining space for the shooters. If not, this series will be over in a hurry.
Cleveland is -4.5 point favorites playing in front of their home crowd. Now that James and company have managed to elevate their game it’s hard to go against them even with the Raptors season on the line. The Pick Cleveland 113-105.