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Series tied 0-0
The Cleveland Cavaliers have yet to be challenged this postseason and attempt to continue to cruise past opponents when they open the Eastern Conference finals against the Toronto Raptors on Tuesday. Cleveland is 8-0 in the playoffs after sweeping Detroit and Atlanta, while Toronto went the full seven games to eliminate both Indiana and Miami.
The Cavaliers will be the fresher team having not played since May 8 while the Raptors completed a hard-fought series with the Miami Heat on Sunday. “I’ve always said anytime you get an opportunity to get some rest throughout the course of our season, it’s always beneficial for anybody,” Cavaliers forward LeBron James told reporters. “Doesn’t matter if you’re a 31-year-old guy who’s played a lot of basketball or you’re a 19-year-old kid who just came into the league.” Toronto has reached the conference finals for the first time in franchise history but coach Dwane Casey – a Dallas assistant when that organization won the 2011 NBA title – doesn’t feel his team is satisfied. “It’s very important for our program,” Casey told reporters. “I think we’ve done everything we’ve set out to do, but we’re not done yet. I know what it’s like to win a championship. I’m not saying we can do that, but I think this group is hungry.”
TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
LINE HISTORY: The Cavaliers opened as double-digit favorites at home for Game 1 at -10.5 and the line hasn’t moved as of Monday evening. The total opened at 202.5 and has come down a full point to 201.5. Check out the complete line history here.
ABOUT THE RAPTORS (64-32, 50-46 ATS, 47-48-1 O/U): Point guard Kyle Lowry began the postseason in a miserable slump but he starts the conference finals as a red-shot performer after averaging 35.5 points in the final two games of the series against the Heat. “It’s the dedication that I’ve put into this game of basketball for myself and for this organization,” Lowry told reporters after having 35 points, nine assists, seven rebounds and four steals in the 116-89 Game 7 blowout victory. “I just wanted to make sure I could be the best player I could be, at all times – especially on the biggest stage.” The Raptors will be without starting center Jonas Valanciunas (ankle) for at least the first two games of the series and Casey said Monday that “he’s a little ways away from contributing in a playoff game.”
ABOUT THE CAVALIERS (65-25, 42-45-3 ATS, 45-45 O/U): James averaged 23.5 points through the first two rounds of the playoffs – below his career mark of 28 per game – as point guard Kyrie Irving (24.4) and power forward Kevin Love (18.9 points, 12.5 rebounds) have both had strong postseasons. Coach Tyronn Lue feels the help other players – including the occasional boost from supporting cast players like guard J.R. Smith and forward Channing Frye – has been a big aid to James. “I don’t think he’s been in this position before where he can just sit back and see the flow of the game, see where he has to take over the game and it’s been great for him,” Lue told reporters. “I mean, to average 23 points or 24 points and sweep both series is big for us because now our other guys are stepping up, they’re playing well and we know LeBron always can play well.”
* Raptors are 1-5 ATS in their last 6 games following a straight up win.
* Cavaliers are 12-3 ATS in their last 15 games vs. a team with a winning % above .600.
* Under is 8-1 in Raptors last 9 road games.
* Under is 6-1 in Cavaliers last 7 games playing on 3 or more days rest.
* Over is 4-1 in the last 5 meetings.
COVERS CONSENSUS: The Toronto Raptors are picking up 66 percent of the spread action as of Monday evening and Over 201.5 is grabbing 60 percent of the over/under plays. View full consensus data here.
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