Toronto (0-0) at Cleveland (0-0)
When: Tuesday, May 17th 2016
Where: Quicken Loans Arena, Cleveland, OH
Time: 8:35 ET | TV: ESPN
The well-rested Cleveland Cavaliers will host Game 1 of the Eastern Conference Finals against the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday night. The Cavaliers easily swept the Detroit Pistons and Atlanta Hawks and have not played since May 8th. LeBron James averaged 23.5 points through the first two rounds of the playoffs – below his career mark of 28 per game, but James has had plenty of help this time around that he didn’t have last postseason. Kyrie Irving (24.4) and power forward Kevin Love (18.9 points, 12.5 rebounds) have both excelled this postseason. The Cavaliers made 77 3-point baskets in the four-game sweep of the Hawks and hope the long rest won’t cool them off. Cleveland took the only home meeting this season against Toronto by 22 points back on January 4th, while the Raptors won both on their home floor.
While the Cavaliers are well rested, the Raptors have had to win two Game 7’s in order to get here and they just played on Sunday – eliminating the Heat 116-89 at home. Point guard Kyle Lowry began the postseason in a miserable slump but heated up towards the end of the Heat series averaging 35.5 points in his last two games. “It’s the dedication that I’ve put into this game of basketball for myself and for this organization,” Lowry told reporters after recording 35 points, nine assists, seven rebounds and four steals in the Game 7 blowout. Lowry has been fantastic in the three meetings with Cleveland this season averaging 31.0 points on 66% shooting, while fellow guard DeMar DeRozan is only averaging 15.0 points on 38.1% shooting against the Cavs. Center Bismack Biyombo recorded double-doubles in three of the last four games of the Miami series after his role increased due to the injury of Jonas Valaciunas, who is out for at least the first two games of this series.
I usually like the hotter team coming into a series like last night’s Thunder win over Golden State, but this Raptor team has to be exhausted. Not only that, but Cleveland is much better. I’ll lay the points in Game 1.
Pick: Cavaliers -10.5