Live Underdog Cleveland Covers Again Versus Toronto

LeBron James

Doug Upstone

Wednesday, May 2, 2018 4:07 PM UTC

Wednesday, May. 2, 2018 4:07 PM UTC

You have to give Cleveland Cavaliers credit for one thing, you never know what to expect from one game to the next. Kind of like the Oakland Raiders draft choices, each one is an adventure.

Across the airwaves of television and radio, and as it turned out, many making NBA picks, Toronto was the choice against Cleveland. LeBron James might be able to beat Indiana single-handedly, but Toronto has more scoring power, depth, and size, not in this series.

Then James and his teammates show up north of the border and all they do is upset the Raptors in OT 113-112 as seven-point underdogs. Though James led his team in scoring with 26, he needed 30 shot attempts to get there and he was 1 for 8 from three-point land and uncharitable 1 for 6 from the free throw line.

Cleveland (12-5-1 ATS) vs Toronto (22-20 ATS)

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Free NBA Pick: ClevelandBest Line Offered: at Pinnacle

Cleveland won because of LeBron's teammates, which was totally unexpected. Now what? Sportsbooks NBA odds have the Cavs catching six-points and the opening Game 1 total of 218 has been reworked down to 212.5. Here is what to consider for Game 2 at 6:05 on ESPN Thursday.

The King Does Need His Knights To Help

As great as LBJ is, he still needs some help. This is why Kyle Korver and JR Smith combining for 39 points and burying 10 three's was so important for the Cavaliers. One could also make the case that Tristan Thompson could be the only person alive that could make a Kardashian family member appear to be a sympathetic figure, but he may have saved Cleveland's season returning as a dynamic rebounder (22 the last two games, including 14 offensive boards).

https://twitter.com/cavs/status/991678755243528197

Getting 16 points from Jeff Green off the bench is how you win games this time of year, with unexpected contributors.

Cleveland's keys are winning the three-point battle (+15 points in Game 1) and protecting the ball (+8 turnover margin).

Toronto Cannot Afford Another Give-Away

Forgive Raptor fans if they have a sense of déjà vu, but they have seen this before. Toronto led the series opener throughout the first three quarters, including having a 14-point lead and fumbled it away.

DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry outscored Cleveland's starting guards by one point, which is not how this is supposed to work for Toronto. They should dominate them, especially at home, but they didn't, especially in the fourth quarter and in OT.

Coach Dwayne Casey did not mince words. “I think we’re a better team,” Casey said. “We just didn’t make the shots down the stretch. I know it sounds simplistic, but we had our open looks, had our opportunities that we didn’t cash in on. And some other things we can clean up defensively, that we can do a better job with also.”

In particular, the defense has to stronger on the perimeter. Permitting 41.2 percent is a good number, but 14 three's allowed is not.

What to Expect for Outcome

Though LeBron had a poor fourth quarter and OT shooting, his raw energy helped his teammates and they wanted it more than Toronto. The Raptors played like the cool kids, always acting under control when more emotion and desire could have made the difference.

One train of thought would be Purple Dinosaurs are all geeked up and win by 20. That's possible. However, this is Toronto we are talking about and if this Cleveland crew is unpredictable, the Raptors are not, known for their postseason failures. Take the Cavs with the digits, with Toronto 18-33 ATS revenging a straight up loss as a favorite the past three years, winning by four points a game.

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