The Toronto Raptors did what they usually do – they got beat in Game 1. Should we keep them in Wednesday’s NBA picks for Game 2 against the Cleveland Cavaliers?
We’ve been here before, folks. The Toronto Raptors have oodles of betting value, but for some reason, they can’t seem to make it work in Game 1 of the playoffs. Their latest shame: Monday’s 116-105 loss at the hands of the Cleveland Cavaliers (–7 at home). It looked at times like the Cavaliers were toying with the Raptors. It was playground basketball, and LeBron James was stealing everyone’s lunch money – ours included.
So we move to Game 2 on Wednesday (7:00 p.m. ET, TNT), and the Raptors have been bumped up to +7.5 on the NBA odds board, so in theory, they have even more betting value now. But let’s take you back in time a little further, back to their first-round matchup with the Milwaukee Bucks. The Raps lost Game 1 of that series, as well. Adjustments were made. And they still failed to cover Game 2. So what do we do for this round?
Same thing we do every round, Pinky: Find out where the betting market is over-reacting. We started riding the totals in Game 3 of the Raps-Bucks series, and that worked out marvelously for us. In this case, we’re looking at a total of 214 points for Wednesday’s matchup. That’s up from 211.5 points in Game 1. The market zigs, we zag and put the UNDER in our NBA picks.
That first game in Cleveland was an aberration. The Cavaliers shot 14-of-34 (41.2 percent) from long range, cooling off a bit in the fourth quarter after building a monstrous lead. They shot 38.4 percent during the regular season. Also, Cavs shooting guard J.R. Smith (2-of-4 in Game 1) tweaked his surgically-repaired right thumb, so one of their weapons has been damaged.
As for Toronto, they’re a much better defensive team than they showed in the opener. They might wait until Game 3 before making wholesale changes to the lineup like they did against Milwaukee, but at the very least, the effort level will be ratcheted up for Wednesday. We’ll buy that for a loonie.