Eastern Conference Semifinals
No. 3 Toronto at No. 2 Cleveland (TNT, 7:05 p.m. ET)
2016-17 Regular Season (Cavaliers 3-1)
Oct. 28 Cavaliers (-2.5) at Raptors 94-91 (Under 206)
Nov. 15 Raptors at Cavaliers (-5.5) 121-117 (Over 209)
Dec. 5 Cavaliers (+2) at Raptors 116-112 (Over 214.5)
Apr. 12 Raptors (-3) at Cavaliers 98-83 (Under 201)
2017 Posteason (Cavaliers 1-0)
May 1 Raptors at Cavaliers (-7) 116-105 (Over 211)
The Raptors have been no match for the Cavaliers at Quicken Loans Arena in the playoffs since last season’s Eastern Conference Finals. Cleveland picked up its four consecutive home playoff blowout of Toronto in Monday’s 116-105 victory in the conference semifinals opener as seven-point favorites.
Although winning by 11 points may not seem like a blowout, the Cavaliers built a 22-point advantage after three quarters before the Raptors outscored Cleveland, 31-20 over the final 12 minutes. LeBron James continued his domination of Toronto with a 35-point, 10 rebound effort, while Kyrie Irving pumped in 24 points and 10 assists for the Cavaliers. Five different Cavaliers knocked down at least two three-pointers, including a trio of treys from Kevin Love, who scored 18 points.
The only way the Raptors have a chance to beat the Cavaliers four times in this series is getting dynamic performances from the backcourt duo of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan. The pair combined for 39 points on 14-of-29 shooting, while Lowry dished out 11 assists. In DeRozan’s first three games against the Cavaliers this season (he sat out finale), the All-Star guard posted 32, 26, and 31 points – all in losses. DeRozan scored only 19 points in Game 1, while putting up 22 points or less in four playoff defeats to Cleveland last season.
The margin of victory by Cleveland over Toronto in the playoffs at home continues to be astounding dating back to last May with the wins coming by 21, 19, 38, and 11 points. In three of the four defeats, the Raptors have been limited to 89 points, while Toronto slipped to 3-8 SU and 4-7 ATS in the previous 11 matchups overall with Cleveland.
With the loss on Monday, the Raptors dropped to 0-7 SU/ATS in their last seven playoff series openers since 2014. However, Dwane Casey’s squad has managed to win Game 2 in four of six opportunities during this span, but one of the two defeats came at Cleveland in last season’s conference finals. Toronto has also been terrible in the underdog role since 2014 by compiling a 5-12 ATS mark when receiving points in the last 17 postseason games.
Cleveland has won six consecutive Game 2’s of a series after capturing the opener since 2015, while putting together a 4-2 ATS record in this span. Four of Cleveland’s first five playoff games have sailed OVER the total, including all three contests at Quicken Loans Arena. Tyronn Lue’s offense continues to shine at home in the postseason by scoring at least 108 points in nine of the past 10 at the “Q” since the 2016 semifinals.
The ‘over’ (211) easily cashed in Game 1 and VegasInsider.com NBA analyst Chris David believes you should press wagers to the high side going forward, especially in Cleveland.
He explained, “Even though the number on Game 2 has been pushed up to 213 ½ for Wednesday, I don’t see anybody slowing down the Cavaliers. They’ve been shooting lights out from the opening tip and are averaging 59.6 points in the first-half in this year’s postseason. The worst performance in the first two quarters thus far was 49 points and that came in Game 3 of the first round at Indiana but they bounced back with a 70-spot in the second-half of that game. The total for the first-half of Game 2 is listed at 108 ½ and Cleveland has eclipsed that number in each of its postseason matchups.”
“I would also suggest giving Cleveland’s team total ‘over’ (110 ½) a serious look in Game 2 based on its current form and playoff history versus Toronto. Including last year’s results in the conference finals, Cleveland has scored 115, 108, 116 and 116 points at home against the Raptors.”
After opening the series at -525 odds to advance to the conference finals, the Cavaliers have been pushed up to -800 (Bet $800 to win $100) at Sportsbook.ag to knock out the Raptors. Toronto moved from +400 on Sunday to +525, while the Cavaliers are still the overwhelming favorites to win the Eastern Conference title at 1/3 odds (Bet $300 to win $100).
Western Conference Semifinals
No. 3 Houston at No. 2 San Antonio (TNT, 9:35 p.m. ET)
2016-17 Regular Season (Spurs 3-1)
Nov. 9 Rockets (+8.5) at Spurs 101-99 (Under 212)
Nov. 12 Spurs (-1.5) at Rockets 106-100 (Under 208)
Dec. 20 Spurs (+1) at Rockets 102-100 (Under 213.5)
Mar. 6 Rockets at Spurs (-3.5) 112-110 (Push 222)
2017 Postseason (Rockets 1-0)
May 1 Rockets (+6) at Spurs 126-99 (Over 215.5)
San Antonio’s 13-game winning streak in home Game 1’s of the playoffs came to a crashing halt on Monday in a 126-99 blowout to Houston. The Rockets jumped out to a commanding 69-39 halftime lead and never looked back as Houston connected on 22-of-50 (yes 50) three-point attempts. Trevor Ariza hit five treys, while Ryan Anderson knocked down four three-pointers as six Rockets scored in double-figures.
The Spurs didn’t play well from the opening tip-off as Gregg Popovich’s team shot just 37% from the floor and 9-of-29 from three-point range. San Antonio allowed a season-high 119 points in a loss at New Orleans in January, but the Spurs gave up at least 30 points in three quarters in Game 1, while the front-court trio of LaMarcus Aldridge, David Lee, and Pau Gasol combined for 14 points. Kawhi Leonard paced the Spurs with 21 points and 11 rebounds, as the MVP candidate averaged 31.6 points per game in the opening round series against Memphis.
Where do the Spurs go from here? San Antonio last lost consecutive home playoff games in the 2010 conference semifinals to Phoenix, while going 7-4 SU and 6-5 ATS off a postseason loss at the AT&T Center since 2011. Off a home loss in the regular season, San Antonio compiled a 6-3 SU and 5-4 ATS record, while Houston improved to 3-0 ATS in three trips to the Alamo this season.
David added his thoughts on the Spurs-Rockets total for Game 2 and what to expect on Wednesday.
“Game 1 jumped ‘over’ the closing total of 215 ½ and Houston certainly was the main contributor with 126 points,” said David. “It wasn’t surprising to see the Rockets explode but doing so against the Spurs is certainly surprising considering they were ranked second in scoring defense (98.3 PPG).”
“Knowing San Antonio is well coached makes you believe we’ll see a better defensive effort in Game 2 plus it’s hard to imagine Houston drilling another 22 bombs from 3-point land. I dug up the numbers and prior to Monday’s result, San Antonio only gave up 110 or more points in nine games this season. In the ensuing game, the Spurs held their opponents to 98.1 PPG and that bounce back effort helped the club go 7-2 (6-3 ATS). One example happened in the first round when Memphis beat San Antonio 110-108 in Game 4 at home and the Spurs responded with 116-103 victory in Game 5.
“The team total for Houston in Game 2 is listed at 105 and Houston has eclipsed that number in six of its seven playoff games while posting exactly 105 in the other. San Antonio held Memphis to 89 PPG at home in the first round, which could have you believing even more that Monday’s offensive effort by the Rockets was an anomaly.”
Houston moved to 4-10 in its last 14 road playoff contests with the Game 1 blowout, but the Rockets haven’t won consecutive away games in the postseason since 2005 against Dallas.
Sportsbook.ag lists the Rockets at -120 favorites to win the series after starting at +200. If you see value in San Antonio advancing to the Western Conference finals, now is the time to jump on the Spurs at +100 for the series.