After the Raptors struggled to put away the Bucks, they are faced with a much tougher matchup against the Cavaliers. Even though the Cavs aren’t playing their best basketball either, they have had plenty of rest heading into this series on Monday and that could spell certain doom.
In the first round against the Pacers, even though the Cavaliers swept the series, the Pacers played them tough and a big reason for this was the Cavs’ defense was not what’s it’s been over the last few trips to the NBA Finals.
The Cavaliers have a playoff defensive rating of 111, which is the worst mark of any team still remaining in the playoffs. Their pace against the Pacers could have played a role, but the Cavs will need to get back to playing stellar defense if they want a chance at winning the NBA Championship this season.
I think Lebron James and company knows this and they should start to ramp things up against this Raptors team. However, they might have some trouble with Kyle Lowry, who is a bad matchup for Kyrie Irving.Dreamin’ of DeRozan
If the Raptors want to win this series, DeMar DeRozan is going to have to be the best player on the court not named James. They need early-season DeRozan, who was dropping 35-plus every game and hitting midrange jumpers like they are layups.
If DeRozan is putting up big offensive numbers and Lowry is giving the Raptors18 to 20 points per game, it’s going to be very hard for the Cavs to play defense in this series.
The Cavs do have Iman Shumpert to throw at DeRozan and I expect James will spend some time guarding DeRozan as well. This leaves Lowry to lead the offense if DeRozan is off a night.
However, if one or both guys are having off games, this is going to be a short series. The Raptors can not afford to have Lowry or DeRozan disappear for a game because they will not be able to have off nights and still win this series.
The Sharp Pick
I’m pretty conflicted in this series and the price. The outright series price on the Cavs is un-bettable and I am in no way confident in the Raptors ability to win this series.
That being said, the Raptors could give the Cavs some trouble in this series if the Cavs’ defense doesn’t come to play. There is simply too much unknown for me to make a play on this one.
If you put a gun to my head (please don’t) and forced me to make an NBA pick on this one, I am going bold with a play from BetOnline. The Cavs sweeping the series is sitting at +500, but I see a tougher series for the Cavs than that. Cavs in six games at +400 would be a better play, but I’m not making it.