Thursday’s NBA Conference Finals betting preview and odds: Raptors at Cavaliers

 

Toronto Raptors at Cleveland Cavaliers (-10.5, 201.5)

Cavaliers lead series 1-0

The Cleveland Cavaliers dismantled the Toronto Raptors in the opening game of the Eastern Conference finals and attempt to remain unbeaten in the postseason when they host Thursday’s Game 2. Cleveland is 9-0 in the playoffs and its latest superb performance was a 115-84 trouncing of Toronto in Game 1.

The 31-point margin of victory was the largest in Cavaliers’ postseason history and the Raptors tried to put on brave faces after the annihilation. “It’s the first to four, and it’s one game,” Toronto small forward DeMarre Carroll told reporters. “It doesn’t matter if you lose by two or you lose by 30. It’s only one game.” The Raptors were dominated on the boards 45-23 without center Jonas Valanciunas (ankle) – who is likely to miss Game 2 as well – and were powerless to defend Cleveland star LeBron James, who scored 24 points on 11-of-13 shooting and is highly motivated to keep the wins coming. “We have a goal, and our goal was not nine wins,” James told reporters. “It’s just not my focus. I’ve won nine games in the postseason before, won 14 games in the postseason before. “It’s not my goal, and as the leader of this team, I’m going to continue to make sure that these guys understand what our goal is.”

TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN

LINE HISTORY: Following their dominant performance in Game 1, the Cavs opened as 12-point favorites over the Raptors for Game 2. As of Wednesday evening, the line has not moved off the lofty opening number. The total hit the board at 196 but was raised a full two points Wednesday morning and that is where it currently sits. Check out the complete line history here.

MATCHUP CHART:

ABOUT THE RAPTORS (64-33, 50-47 ATS, 48-48-1 O/U): Point guard Kyle Lowry appeared to be on his game with outings of 36 and 35 to close the Miami series but he was disjointed in Game 1 with just eight points on 4-of-14 shooting – including missing all seven 3-point attempts. Toronto won two of the three regular-season meetings and believes it can compete with Cleveland but Game 1 displayed the opposite as the Raptors were largely uncompetitive. “It’s a different series than last series,” Toronto coach Dwane Casey told reporters. “We’ve got to get our minds adjusted and bodies adjusted. The speed of the game is another issue, a quicker pace, a quicker foot speed for this team versus Miami and Indiana, so we’ve got to make that adjustment.”

ABOUT THE CAVALIERS (66-25, 43-45-3 ATS, 46-45 O/U): Point guard Kyrie Irving is meshing well with James and badly outplayed Lowry with 27 points on 11-of-17 shooting in the opener. Irving and James haven’t always seen eye-to-eye over their two seasons together but James said he is seeing the growth and maturity needed from Irving. “He’s grown every single day, every single week, month and over the course of these last two years or year-plus, becoming a leader and becoming a staple of our team,” James told reporters. “We all knew how talented the kid was and how talented he is still today, but his growth and what he demands out of all of us, as the point guard, as one of the leaders of the team, that’s what’s the best part about it.”

TRENDS:

* Raptors are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 road games.
* Cavaliers are 13-3 ATS in their last 16 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600.
* Over is 24-5 in Raptors last 29 games following a straight up loss of more than 10 points.
* Over is 8-2 in Cavaliers last 10 home games vs. a team with a winning road record.
* Over is 5-1 in the last 6 meetings.

COVERS CONSENSUS: The Cavaliers are picking up 53 percent of the Covers Consensus wagers as of Wednesday evening. It seems as though the public doesn’t really like the lofty 12-point spread as you’d expect the percentage to be much higher for a very public team coming off a monster win. The Over is picking up 72 percent of the total wagers – even after the line move up to 196. View full consensus data here.

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