Play The Spread & Continue Cashing With Cavaliers In Game 3

Jason Lake

Saturday, May 21, 2016 11:45 AM UTC

Saturday, May. 21, 2016 11:45 AM UTC

The Cleveland Cavaliers are 5-point road favorites on the NBA odds board for Game 3 of their Eastern final versus the Toronto Raptors. Should we take the OVER instead?

Cleveland Cavaliers vs. Toronto Raptors
Luck evens out in the long run. Last year, the Cleveland Cavaliers had to deal with the loss of Kevin Love in the first round, then Kyrie Irving. This year, the Cavaliers are healthy, and they get to beat up on the undermanned Toronto Raptors in the Eastern Conference Finals. Cleveland took the first two games of this series at home, SU and ATS as double-digit faves. Easy-peasy.

The Cavs are still the favorites for Game 3 this Saturday night (8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN) in Toronto. As we go to press, Cleveland is laying five points on our NBA odds boards, with a total of 197.5 for those who like totals. We like totals here at the home office. Maybe we'll give that a shot, since our original hypothesis about Toronto's betting value hasn't borne fruit.

Fill the Lane, Baby
We did get one thing right about the Cavaliers – they don't need to play as much small ball against the Raptors. But they didn't wait to close that loophole; in Game 1, Cleveland “only” took 20 shots from long range, down from 33.1 per game during these playoffs. Game 2 was more of the same, with 21 attempts. Instead, the Cavs have been taking it to the rack and marching to the free-throw line.

Too bad, because that makes it less likely we'll want to put the OVER in our NBA picks for Game 3. The market on totals has adjusted since the first couple of weeks, when the UNDER was going supernova. Game 1 of this series just barely went OVER 198.5. Thursday's rematch just barely went UNDER 197.5. Our early consensus reports for Saturday show 67 percent support for the OVER, and 73 percent support for Cleveland. That would be the appropriate favorite-OVER parlay, I suppose.

Stormin' Norman
In theory – the zigzag theory, to be specific – the Raptors should be able to adjust and carry some betting value into Game 3. But their adjustments didn't work in Game 2. Luis Scola (2.7 PER, –6.0 BPM in the playoffs) was put back into the starting rotation Thursday; he shot 1-for-5 and finished with a minus-13 in just 14 minutes of work. And he wasn't even that bad. Cleveland was that good.

There are plenty of other adjustments head coach Dwane Casey can make, like going small with Norman Powell (10.9 PER, –0.9 BPM) in the starting lineup to defend Kyrie Irving (26.0 PER, +5.9 BPM), or staying big with Jason Thompson (3.1 PER, –7.0 BPM) and/or Lucas Nogueira (11.2 PER, –7.7 BPM) down low. But all three of those players have struggled during the postseason. Maybe it's time to concede the Raptors are in over their heads without Jonas Valanciunas (27.5 PER, +4.3 BPM) and move on.

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Free NBA Pick: Cavaliers -5
Best Line Offered: at Bookmaker
Record: 37-42-1 ATS, 13-9-1 Total

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