NBA Picks & Preview – Game 4: Toronto Raptors at Cleveland Cavaliers
Is it going to be the same old story for the Toronto Raptors? Last year they were swept in four games in the Eastern Conference playoff by the Cleveland Cavaliers, and they are sitting here on Monday with a 3-0 deficit to make up against the three-time defending East champions. No NBA team has ever come back from three games down to win a playoff series, but Toronto has nothing to do but try, and they will do so beginning at 8:35 PM ET at the Quicken Loans Arena in Cleveland. If you are a BetAnySports customer, you can get much better odds with reduced juice, and after the game begins, you can keep the action going by using the advanced technology of Live Betting Ultra.
This whole experience for Toronto has been heartbreaking, since they specifically re-designed their approach to compete with Cleveland. But they have blown leads and made unnecessary mistakes. In Game 3 it looked as if the Cavaliers were going to be the team that blew the lead; they were up by 14 points, but Toronto mounted an impressive comeback as they had a 38-point fourth quarter. But once again it was LeBron James victimizing the Raptors, going practically the length of the floor for a running bank shot at the buzzer that gave Cleveland a 105-103 victory.
So maybe it’s now a situation of desperation for Toronto, and maybe it’s simply a matter of pride. Either way, unless the Raptors are really going to make NBA history here, it could be back to the drawing board for them, which may include moving some pieces, including either member of the All-Star backcourt, Kyle Lowry or DeMar DeRozan.
In the NBA playoff odds posted on this game by the folks at BetAnySports, Cleveland is laying points in Game 4:
Cleveland Cavaliers -5.5
Toronto Raptors +5.5
Over 213.5 points -110
Under 213.5 points -110
DeRozan is somebody who was looking for some redemption. He has not had a good series, and has not contributed from beyond the arc, which is not his strong suit but something where he was expected to chip in. The Raptors’ leading scorer has gone 0-9 from long-range, and he made only three out of his 12 shots in Game 3. What may have been especially humiliating to him was that coach Dwane Casey benched him for the entire fourth quarter, during which time Toronto clawed back into the game.
It will be curious to see what role Serge Ibaka plays in this game. He had become something of a forgotten man, underachieving in the first two games, but he did play well on Saturday, scoring 11 points with eight rebounds. Kyle Lowry, who may regret sitting out Game 4 of last year’s meeting with the Cavaliers, as he had an ankle injury, has been a sharpshooter from the field, making 63% of the shots.
There is some complaining on the part of the Toronto side, and team president Masai Ujiri was just fined $25,000 by the league for going onto the court and confronting a referee. Toronto has been called for 74 personal fouls, while Cleveland has been whistled for only 56. However, LeBron, who has gotten 25 free throws, has made only 14 of them.
Even though Cleveland has never failed to sweep a series when they have been up 3-0, Toronto has been close, and has not shot that badly at all on an overall basis (47.8%). They obviously have enough in the way of components to win a game in this series, and at the very least we will expect them to fight the Cavaliers tooth and nail, like they did in Game 3, perhaps losing but still covering the pointspread.
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