Well-rested Cavs could have big betting edge with worn-out Raptors

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The Toronto Raptors could be a little worse for wear when they face the Cleveland Cavaliers in Game 1 of the Eastern Conference finals Tuesday night. 

Toronto, coming off a full seven-game series against the Miami Heat in the conference semifinals (and their second straight seven-game set of the postseason), visits a Cleveland team that has had its feet up for the past nine days after completing its sweep of the Atlanta Hawks on May 8. 

With the Raptors having just one full day in between series, sportsbooks have made the Dinos 10.5-point road underdogs against the undefeated Cavaliers, who are 8-0 SU and 5-3 ATS this postseason. And Cleveland could add to those records if history has any say.

Since the 1995-96 NBA season, teams coming off a seven-game series that are playing an opponent fresh from a four-game sweep are just 4-10 SU and 3-11 ATS (21%) in Game 1 of that series – just 1-7 ATS (12.5%) since 2008-09. Those tired teams playing on limited rest have lost by an average score of 104.7-91.3 facing an average spread of +7.6. 

Six of those teams off a full seven games the round before were pegged as double-digit dogs in Game 1 vs. an opponent of a 4-0 squash the series before – like Toronto at +10.5. Those teams went just 2-4 SU and ATS, losing by an average score of 99.1-89.1.

Looking beyond Game 1, the team coming off a seven-game slugfest has gone on to defeat an opponent fresh from a four-game sweep in the series just twice in that 20-year span, going 2-12 for the series. The Orlando Magic did it when they defeated the Cleveland Cavaliers in the 2009 Eastern Conference finals (4-2) and the Miami Heat knocked off the San Antonio Spurs (4-3) in the 2013 NBA Finals.

Cleveland is a -1,400 favorite to win the Eastern Conference finals, with Toronto pegged as a +850 long shot.


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