“Survive and advance” is usually a term that’s used during the college basketball tournament in March but that’s exactly where the Cleveland Cavaliers find themselves in the May 1st NBA playoffs free pick. It took the Cavs all 7 games to disperse of the Pacers, but that’s exactly what they did and here they are in round 2 against the Raptors. Toronto won all 4 games at the Air Canada Centre to beat the Wizards in 6 and their home court is expected to be one of the biggest advantages as round 2 kicks off tonight.
Cavs Do Own Toronto in Postseason – But Is 2018 Different?
Cleveland is facing off with Toronto for the third postseason in a row. The Cavs captured the Eastern Conference in 6 games in 2016 and swept Toronto off the court in the semifinals last season. There’s one big difference heading into the May 1st NBA playoffs free pick however – it’s that Cleveland doesn’t have home court advantage in this series as they have been the past two years. The Cavs played Toronto twice this year after the Isaiah Thomas trade, winning by 3 and 15 although both games were in Cleveland. The one visit for Tyronn Lue’s team to Toronto wasn’t pretty during the regular season as the Raptors won 133-99 on January 11th.
Of course all eyes are going to be on Lebron James during this series, as they always are. James scored 35+ in every game of last year’s sweep and is coming off a 45 point performance to beat the Pacers in Game 7. How much does Lebron have left in the tank however after leading the NBA in minutes during the regular season (36.9) and averaging 41.1 per game in the series against Indiana. The Cavs are coming off just 1 day of rest while Toronto has been resting since Friday. It’s obvious that somebody needs to take the pressure off James and a good bet is Kevin Love, who averaged 17 points and 12 rebounds against the Raptors in the regular season.
Is It Toronto’s Time to Shine?
The Raptors captured the #1 seed in the Eastern Conference this year by being 9 wins better than the #4 Cavaliers during the regular season. One of the main reasons Toronto was able to pull this off was because of their 34-7 record at home this year. That success continued in the first round of this year’s postseason as the Raptors won games at the Air Canada Centre by 8, 11, and 10 points over Washington. The Raptors did drop games by 19 and 8 at Washington so maybe the team is a bit vulnerable heading into the May 1st NBA playoffs free pick.
There are a lot of players who the Raptors will rely on to be the first to four wins with a -120 series price (Cavs listed at +180). That’s the closes series price and the man front and center leading the charge is DeMar DeRozan who had 32+ in three of six games against Washington. Kyle Lowry only broke 20 points once in the series and will need to be better against Cleveland. 7-footer Jonas Valanciunas gives Toronto a definite size advantage but the real key player vs the Cavs might just be OG Anunoby. The 20-year-old has the youth to exhaust Lebron James and has shown success guarding him in the past.
May 1st NBA Playoffs Free Pick Betting
The line has moved slightly from the TOR -6 open up to TOR -7. Both sides of the public like that number as Toronto has just a slight 52% betting edge. The Cavs were 1-2 on the road in their first round series and are playing on just one days rest after a tough 4-point Game 7 win over Indiana on Sunday. The Raptors got 18 minutes out of Fred VanVleet in his return last Friday and will have a weekend of rest to increase that workload. Toronto has a considerable size advantage on the inside with Valanciunas and Serge Ibaka which means the tired Cavs are going to hit their outside shots to keep this one close. That isn’t a good ‘need’ to have.
Free Pick: Toronto Raptors -7