Cavaliers lead series 2-1
Everybody was writing off the Toronto Raptors after they lost the first two games of the Eastern Conference finals by an average of 25 points. Toronto countered with a superb Game 3 performance and aims to tie the series at 2-2 when it host the Cleveland Cavaliers on Monday.
The Raptors posted a 99-84 home victory over the Cavaliers on Saturday when they limited Cleveland to 35.4 percent shooting from the field while center Bismack Biyombo was busy setting a franchise playoff record with 26 rebounds. “It’s a long series,” Raptors coach Dwane Casey told reporters afterward. “It’s not over with yet, but everybody thought we were going to get swept. I think that fuels us and if that’s what it takes, so be it.” The Cavaliers won their first 10 games of the postseason before Saturday’s mediocre showing and forward LeBron James attributed the result to a combination of Toronto’s stellar play and his own club’s shortcomings. “We didn’t play our game, and they made us pay for it,” James said at his postgame press conference. “It is a little adversity. Why not? It’s the postseason, and you lose a game. This is our first loss of the postseason. I would count it as a little adversity.”
TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
LINE HISTORY: The Rapors hit the board for this pivotal Game 4 as 6-point home dogs and, at the time of publication of this preview, the line hasn’t moved off that number. The total opened at 197 and has also yet to move. Check out the up-to-date and complete line history here.
ABOUT THE CAVALIERS (67-26, 44-46-3 ATS, 46-47 O/U): James scored 24 points in Game 3 but point guard Kyrie Irving (13 points on 3-of-19 shooting) and power forward Kevin Love (three points, 1-of-9) both had awful shooting nights. Love, who didn’t play in the fourth quarter, is averaging just 12 points and 4.3 rebounds in the series and said the following to reporters: “I felt like I was a little passive. From a mentality standpoint, it’s an easy fix.” Irving averaged 26.5 points in the first two games before a woeful performance that included a 1-of-7 showing from 3-point range.
ABOUT THE RAPTORS (65-34, 51-48 ATS, 48-50-1 O/U): Biyombo has an increased role with starting center Jonas Valanciunas (ankle) sidelined and he averaged just 4.5 rebounds over the first two games before going on a board rage – including eight offensive – in Game 3. Biyombo set the tone by collecting 10 rebounds in the first quarter and had 16 at halftime as Toronto finished with a 54-40 rebounding edge. “I’m playing for my teammates, honestly, and for us it’s just that we’re going to play hard no matter what, and we’re going to play our game,” Biyombo told reporters after Game 3. “I’ve been saying that since we started the series, and our game is to protect the paint. And my job is to make sure that I protect the paint no matter what.”
* Cavaliers are 1-8-1 ATS in their last 10 games following a straight up loss of more than 10 points.
* Raptors are 8-1 ATS in their last 9 home games vs. a team with a winning road record.
* Under is 9-2 in Raptors last 11 games following a ATS win.
* Home team is 6-0 ATS in the last 6 meetings.
* Under is 22-5-1 in the last 28 meetings in Toronto.
COVERS CONSENSUS: Early Covers Consensus data is showing a massive shift in public opinion. For Saturday’s game it seemed like the entire world was picking the Cavaliers to win and cover the spread but the current numbers are drastically different with only 54 percent thinking that the Cavs can cover the six points on the road. Total wagering is, pretty much, where it’s been all series with 63 percent of Covers users picking the Over. View full consensus data here.
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