Cavaliers vs. Raptors Game Four Pick – NBA Playoffs May 23rd

Ok, so that wasn’t just a loss yesterday.  That was a LOSS.  All caps.  Screaming, worrisome, alarming devastation.  The Thunder aren’t playing around and the Warriors now find themselves in serious peril for the first time since they fell down 2-1 to the Fightin’ LeBrons in last year’s NBA Finals.  The Thunder didn’t just win Game Three at home, they picked apart the Champs, frustrating them into ragged shots and badgering them into some physical body-language of defeat.

They LOOKED like the better team.  Michael Wilbon put it best right after the game, “”I don’t think in 30 years I’ve seen the sitting champion clowned. But that’s what they were.”

Of course, we all know how quickly a series can go from utter domination in one direction to a complete reversal of fortune.  Just ask the San Antonio Spurs who did basically what OKC did to Golden State to the Thunder in the previous round.  SO this series is NOT over.  But it IS tense.  Game Four is going to be unbelievable.

It is fair to say both series have taken interesting twists in the last 36 hours.   So can Toronto continue this week of intrigue by evening up a series that EVERYONE (me included) thought was over just two days ago?

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Today’s Free Pick:

Cleveland Cavaliers -6 at Toronto Raptors (Total: 197)

What to make of Game Three?  Signs of life from the Raptors?  Vulnerability from the Cavs?  Or simply a really, really, rotten, no-good night from the Eastern Champs?

I vote the last.  Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love were 4 or 26 from the floor, for an impossibly-low 15% shooting percentage.  That is a number so far out of a statistical standard deviation it is unlikely to happen again EVER, let alone again this series.  Assuming they went just 10 of 26, which still sinks, the Cavs probably win that game.  Add in some extra motivation tonight and a little more assertiveness from LeBron if necessary and I think the tides turn tonight.

Laying six is pretty steep on the road, but of the eleven postseason games the Cavs have played, they’ve looked pretty good in eight or eight and a half of them, and a few of the ‘meh’ efforts were in the somnambulistic opening round again the outclassed Pistons.

Look for Cleveland to get back to basics tonight; containing DeRozan (though, his points are largely inefficient, so if he wants to take 30 shots to get his 30 points, so be it) and putting a body on Biyombo.  Look for Tristan Thompson and company to take the challenge personally and keep Bismack to a non-factor tonight.

The Cavs are still the vastly better team.  I still think this series is over.  I’m not jumping off the Cavs train after one statistically-improbable bad night.

Free Pick: Cleveland Cavaliers -6

Chris Scheeren / Author