Just like last year, the Toronto Raptors are facing LeBron James and the Cleveland Cavaliers in the NBA playoffs. But they’re meeting in the second round this time, and the Raptors look like they’ll be much more competitive. Game 2 in this best-of-seven series is Wednesday night (7 PM ET, TNT) in Cleveland; Toronto hit the board as a 7-point underdog for Monday’s opener.
Which version of the Cavaliers will show up? Will it be the team that finished second in the Eastern Conference at 51-31 SU (36-43-3 ATS)? Even if it’s the team that swept the Indiana Pacers in the first round, the Cavs went 2-2 ATS, and they won those four games by a combined 14 points. Cleveland’s defense just hasn’t been up to snuff this season, finishing 22nd overall at 108.0 points allowed per 100 possessions – same as the last-place Brooklyn Nets.
Toronto (51-31 SU, 45-36-1 ATS) ranked No. 8 in the league in defense at 104.9 points allowed, and they got even better when Serge Ibaka and PJ Tucker arrived at the trade deadline. The Raptors won their last three opening-round games against the Milwaukee Bucks straight up and against the spread after naming Ibaka their starting center.