The Western Conference Finals got off to an exciting and surprising start last night with the Thunder stealing Game One and putting some serious pressure square on the shoulders of the defending champs. We had the Thunder with the points, and personally, I am not stunned the Thunder won – they match well talent-for-talent and played Golden State tough in the regular season. And as pointed out yesterday, the Warriors needed some incredible and dramatic shooting to escape with regular season wins. The regression to the mean was inevitable.
As is it now in Game Two. The Warriors, who made an insane number of difficult shots in the regular season against the Thunder, missed a ton of shots they normally MAKE last night. Don’t be surprised to see the percentages swing the other way in Game Two and a wildly different result unfolds…
The scene shifts to the East tonight as the Raptors, deeper in the playoffs than ever before, will attempt to do the unlikely and give the Cavaliers a reasonably competitive series… Vegas isn’t real confident. If you wanted to make $100 on the Cavaliers to win the series you’d have to stake a whopping $1700 to do so (no thanks). But can the Raps even make it interesting?
Let’s dive in for today’s free pick.
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Today’s Free Pick:
Toronto Raptors at Cleveland Cavaliers -10.5
A double-digit spread in the opening game of the Eastern Conference Finals should fully and succinctly explain why there is a general lack of enthusiasm around this series. But is there some reason to be optimistic that these games can provide us some entertainment at the very least?
The Raptors maligned backcourt got going in Game Seven, especially Kyle Lowry, who dropped 35 points in the series clincher, outdueling Dwyane Wade in a spot the Hall of Famer-to-be generally shines. If his confidence is restored, the Raptors have a punchers chance to score points. The problem is that they are missing Valencunias in a series where they already have a depth disadvantage. Lowry and DeRozan are going to have to be better than good; they have to be incredible – like 65-70 points a night scored efficiently –to compete in this series.
I think they will be fine. But not nearly great enough to do any real damage in this series. I think this thing has SWEEP written all over it; the Cavaliers might be a teeny bit rusty, so perhaps tonight is the only chance they have to win a road game, or maybe a game at all. But I think Cleveland, who is a perfect 8-0 in the postseason, comes out focused and intent on BURYING the Raptors early. I think this game is a blowout, and though I HATE laying double digits in a game – if this was a regular season game, I’d like it but not love it and probably would look for a different game, but since it is the only game in town today, I’ll have to eat the ten and roll with the Eastern Conference champs.
Look for LeBron to come out a little grumpy after the Kyle Lowry slight and look for him to put up a near triple-double tonight in a resounding opening game statement.