Series tied 2-2
The Cleveland Cavaliers are suddenly locked in a fierce battle in the Eastern Conference finals after once being in position to roll over the Toronto Raptors. Two victories by Toronto changed the complexion of the now-tied series, and it is a best-of-three competition when the series returns to Cleveland for Wednesday’s Game 5.
The Raptors lost the first two games in Cleveland by an average of 25 points but they ignored the opinions of people saying they would be swept to post two impressive victories. “We’ve been playing with our backs against the wall,” Toronto shooting guard DeMar DeRozan said at a press conference after scoring 32 points in Monday’s 105-99 victory. “We never cared what anybody else thought. It was a challenge for us every single day. We’ve been counted out and we like that challenge.” Cavaliers coach Tyronn Lue didn’t play ineffective power forward Kevin Love in the fourth quarter for the second consecutive contest but pinpointed his team’s mistakes as the biggest factor in the Game 4 loss. “We came up short,” Lue said in his postgame press conference. “We had a few defensive breakdowns that you can’t have down the stretch of a game, especially in the playoffs, and they executed every time we made a mistake.”
TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN
LINE HISTORY: The Cavaliers opened as 10-point home favorites against the Raptors for Game 5. The line was bumped up a half point early Tuesday morning to -10.5, which is where it sits at the time of publication of this preview. The total opened at 198 and was bumped up to 199 at the same time as the spread was moved. Check out the complete line history here.
ABOUT THE RAPTORS (66-34, 52-48 ATS, 49-50-1 O/U): Getting a combined 67 points on 28-of-43 shooting from point guard Kyle Lowry (35) and DeRozan was huge for Toronto as the two All-Stars have both experienced some struggles in the postseason. “One thing about us, we can take the bad with the good any day,” DeRozan said. “It’s life, man. You can’t get too down when things are not going your way, but you understand the work that you put in all summer, all throughout the season, for moments like this. You’ve got to be ready.” The Raptors expect center Jonas Valanciunas (ankle) to be ready for the first time in the series to team up with defensive dynamo Bismack Biyombo, who has averaged 20 rebounds and 3.5 blocked shots over the past two games.
ABOUT THE CAVALIERS (67-27, 44-47-3 ATS, 47-47 O/U): Love, who tweaked his knee in the second half, averaged just 6.5 points on 5-of-23 shooting in the two games in Toronto and has no explanation for his poor play. “I had a lot of great shots, I just didn’t knock them down,” Love told reporters. “It’s as simple as that. I had a lot of confidence in shooting the ball, a lot of really wide open 3’s, especially to start that first quarter. A number of them went in and out so I just need to continue to stay aggressive.” Point guard Kyrie Irving bounced back with 26 points and suffering through a 3-of-19 shooting performance in Game 3 when he scored a series-low 13 points.
* Raptors are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 road games.
* Cavaliers are 5-0 ATS in their last 5 home games.
* Under is 6-1 in Raptors last 7 after scoring 100 points or more in their previous game.
* Over is 8-2 in Cavaliers last 10 Wednesday games.
* Home team is 7-0 ATS in the last 7 meetings.
COVERS CONSENSUS: Somewhat shockingly, at the time of publication of this preview, the Raptors are picking up 59 percent of the Covers Consensus action. It seems as though #WeTheNorth is getting noticed a bit further south. As usual in the NBA Playoffs, Over is grabbing the majority of the total wagers at 61 percent. View full consensus data here.
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