Cleveland Cavaliers lead the series 1-0
Cleveland Cavaliers: -5000 with Bovada.lv
Toronto Raptors: +1600 with Bovada.lv
Game one: Cleveland Cavaliers defeated Toronto Raptors, 115-84
Game two: Thursday, May 19 – Toronto at Cleveland, 5.30pm PT or 8.30pm ET on ESPN/ESPN Radio
Game three: Saturday, May 21 – Cleveland at Toronto, 5.30pm PT or 8.30pm ET on ESPN/ESPN Radio
Game four: Monday, May 23 – Cleveland at Toronto, 5.30pm PT or 8.30pm ET on ESPN/ESPN Radio
Game five (if required): Wednesday, May 25 – Toronto at Cleveland, 5.30pm PT or 8.30pm ET on ESPN/ESPN Radio
Game six (if required): Friday, May 27 – Cleveland at Toronto, 5.30pm PT or 8.30pm ET on ESPN/ESPN Radio
Game seven (if required): Sunday, May 29 – Toronto at Cleveland, 5.30pm PT or 8.30pm ET on ESPN/ESPN Radio
STRIKE up game one to Cleveland.
And by the looks of the odds from our friends at online bookmaker Bovada.lv, they may as well hand the Cavaliers the Eastern Conference finals.
The Cavs, after a stunning 115-84 hammering of the Raptors in game one, are now a red hot -5000 with the bookie to take out the series.
The Raptors are now given almost no home at +1600.
It is set to be a humbling experience for the Raptors, who, despite defeating the Cavs twice during the regular season, appear to have run their race on the big stage.
And who could blame them?
This is as far into the playoffs as this ball club has ever been and it has taken them a pair of bruising seven game series to make it here.
Paul George and the plucky Indiana Pacers pushed them all the way in the first round before they took out the decider at home and then they repeated the dose against the Miami Heat in the Eastern Conference semi finals, despite a remarkable effort to wind back the clock by Dwyane Wade.
What it means is that the Raptors have played 14 games so far in two rounds, with the Cavaliers’ game making it 15.
In the same period, the Cavs have played just nine games, having swept past both the Detroit Pistons, 4-0 in the first round, and then the disappointing Atlanta Hawks, also 4-0, in the Eastern Conference semi finals.
What that all means is that fatigue is going to be a major factor in this series – and that is bad news for the Raps.
Especially considering Lebron only had to play in three quarters of Tuesday’s game one, because it was all over before the final break.
In just 28 minutes, James got plenty of rest, but also got whatever he wanted on offence as he scored 24 points, missing just two shots in the process of going 11 of 13 from the field, including one of the most ferocious jams seen on a basketball court in the second half.
James, as always, was the main event, but his point guard cohort, the ‘has he finally matured’ Kyrie Irving stole the show.
The silky skilled little man – who missed almost all of last year’s losing finals campaign when he suffered a knee injury early in the series – got into the lane with ease, pouring in 27 points and adding five assists, two steals and two blocks. His 11 for 17 shooting capped off a fine day at the office.
Kevin Love did his bit with 14 points and the bench provided a sparkplug, with six players scoring off the pine for the Cavs – most of those coming in junk time.
Speaking of junk time, most of Kyle Lowry’s 32 minutes could be described as that, the point guard backing up his superb 35 point effort to close out the Heat in game seven with a horrible four for 14 eight point night, in which he did not make one of his seven three point attempts. To say they need more consistency out of their Most Valuable Player would be an understatement and, despite DeMar DeRozan’s 18 points, the Raptors tend to go how Lowry goes. He is the leader and talisman. If he isn’t keyed in and gets shut down, they are going to have one hell of a time of it in this series.
It’s not just fatigue that will have a bearing on this series. It is also as much about talent. And, while the Raptors have some nice players in DeRozan and Lowry, they just don’t have the playoff experience of the legendary King James and the talents of Kyrie Irving or Kevin Love.
The Cavs bench is also deeper, especially now that Bismarck Biyombo has been forced into the starting line up thanks to an injury to regular centre Jonas Valanciunas.
Valanciunas is out with a knee injury and, in his absence, the Congolese’s play has been stellar, but the forced move has diluted the talent off the bench for the Raptors and it is to their detriment.
Game two is tomorrow in Cleveland and it is rather difficult to even envisage the Raptors putting up a fight here.
There is no doubt this is good experience for this young team that managed to win 56 games in season 2015/16 and, even if they are whacked 4-0 by the Cavs, it will hold them in good stead for future playoff series, giving them a taste of what it takes to be the best.
A Cleveland sweep is the obvious pick, but if the Raps can get any thing going, it will be at home in games two or three in front of their rabid crowd that has, up until this point, been starved of real success.