It's an excellent matchup of Eastern Conference division leaders on Tuesday night in Cleveland when the Cavaliers host the Toronto Raptors. Cleveland opened as a 6.5-point favorite, with NBA odds offering a total of 206.5 points.
Seventh Heaven for Cavs
Cleveland is on a season-high seven-game win streak, which is tied for the longest active streak in the Eastern Conference. And the Cavaliers aren't messing around in that run, having won five of them by at least 12 points. On Monday night, in front of the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, LeBron James and Co. won 110-88 in Brooklyn. James had said he was excited to meet the royal couple, and the Cavs took off when they finally arrived, outscoring the Nets 49-27 from that point forward. Of course the Prince William and wife Kate were fashionably late!
James finished with 18 points and seven assists, while Kevin Love, who has really started to play better, had 19 points and 14 rebounds. The Cavs killed the Nets on the board to the tune of a 55-33 advantage. It certainly helped Cleveland's cause overall that Nets starting guard Joe Johnson missed the game with the flu.
In Cleveland's 5-7 start the team averaged 104.4 points per 100 possessions, dished out 21.2 assists per game and shot 44.4 percent from the field. In this seven-game run, the Cavs' are putting up 113.1 points per 100 possessions, handing out 23.9 assists per night and shooting a stellar 50.2 percent.
Yet despite hitting their stride, the Cavs are still active on the trade market. If there's one thing they lack it's a great rim protector. Love and Anderson Varejao aren't those types of players. So Cleveland is looking for a big body, and the latest rumor has the team pondering an offer for backup Memphis 7-footer Kosta Koufos. If the Cavs get a guy who can block some shots and at least give guys some moderate pause when driving to the rack, then this team is going to be tough to beat.
Cleveland is 9-10 against the spread this season and 7-11-1 'over/under' at sportsbooks.
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Raptors Money When Leading After 3
So while Cleveland didn't have to put too much effort into Monday's win, the Raptors did as they were dragged into overtime at home by Denver, winning 112-107. It was Toronto's amazing 39th straight win when the team led after three quarters. However, the Raptors trailed late in the fourth, but Patrick Patterson got Toronto to overtime by hitting a tying 3-pointer with 28 seconds left. He was 5-for-7 from long range while the rest of the Raptors were 2-for-26.
Louis Williams led Toronto with 26 points, while Jonas Valanciunas had 18 points and 12 boards, and Kyle Lowry, the reigning Eastern Conference Player of the Week, had 13 points and 13 assists. Those three guys all need to raise their games as long as star guard DeMar DeRozan is out with a groin injury, which is indefinitely. The team's leading scorer (19.4 ppg) has missed the past five games and Toronto is 3-2.
The Raptors can score with anyone, ranking No. 2 in points per game at 108.9. One concern has been the defense, which has allowed at least 100 points in eight straight games. That's the longest run against Toronto under Coach Dwane Casey.
Toronto is 12-9 against the spread this season and 13-8 'over/under.'
The teams have split two meetings, each winning rather easily on the road. The Cavaliers were 3-point favorites on NBA odds when they hosted Toronto on Nov. 22, but the Raptors won 110-93 despite trailing 26-8 at one point. Williams had a career-high 36 points off the bench. Lowry had 23 points and DeRozan 20 for the Raptors. LeBron 15 had points,10 assists and one rebound. That was Cleveland's season-high fourth straight loss at the time. The Cavs haven't been beaten since.
On Friday in Toronto, NBA odds listed the the Cavs as 4.5-point underdogs and they won 104-91 behind 24 points,13 assists (season high) and seven rebounds from James. Tristan Thompson set season highs with 21 points and 14 rebounds off the bench. Amir Johnson had 27 points and Lowry 22 for the Raptors.
NBA Free Picks: Add Cleveland -6.5 and the 'over' to your NBA picks tonight, as the Cavs are 6-1 ATS in their past seven games vs. teams with a winning road record and the 'over' is 4-0 in Toronto's past four on the road.