*10* SUPER POWER ~ NINE STRAIGHT WINNING DAYS! 4-0 NBA Playoff Run!
Cleveland vs. Toronto,
05/01/2018 20:00 EDT,
Score: 113 - 112
Point Spread: -6½/-110 Toronto
10* Toronto (8:05 ET): LeBron James is the best basketball player in the world (and no worse than the 2nd best player ever), but Cleveland is not a great team. Throughout my analysis of their 1st round series vs. Indiana, I mentioned how the Cavs finished the regular season ranked 28th in the league in defensive efficiency. That was ahead of only Sacramento and Phoenix. Speaking of that 1st round series (which just ended Sunday, mind you), it went the distance (seven games) and the Cavs four wins were by a combined 14 points. None were by greater than four. Meanwhile, two of their three losses were by 18 or more points and they were outscored by 40 pts in the series. That's the worst total point differential for any team that won a playoff series since 1984!
Now Toronto has an ugly past to overcome here. Namely, they've only won two playoff Game 1's in franchise history, one of those coming in the last round vs. Washington. They've been eliminated each of the last two years by the Cavaliers, even getting swept last year. However, there are signs that 2018 could be a little different. Namely, the Raptors have the homecourt advantage this year. In the regular season, they owned the best home point differential in the entire league. They won all three home games in the 1st round vs. Washington, all by eight points or more. Yes, they did drop two of three regular season meetings w/ Cleveland. But both losses came on the road and were by six points or less. The one meeting that took place here North of the Border (back in January) saw the Raptors win by 34 points!
Had I told you before the series that Cleveland would allow only 100.6 points per game to Indiana, you would probably assume that they'd advance w/ relative ease, not be taken the distance. But despite allowing more than 101 pts just one time, the Cavs needed a full seven games. Tristan Thompson and George Hill stepped up big on Sunday, but overall James had little to no help in the series. LeBron led the team in all five major statistical categories and scored 3x as much as any other Cav. The quick turnaround between series does the visitors no favors here. Let's not forget Cleveland barely outscored its opponents during the regular season. It would take another superhuman effort from James just for the Cavs to have a chance here and I can't see him averaging 34.4 PPG on 55% shooting again like he did vs. the Pacers. 10* Toronto