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How to Conquer Wednesday's NBA Playoff Betting
The Cleveland Cavaliers and Houston Rockets are threatening to jump out to a 2-0 lead in their best-of-seven second-round sets. Will the Toronto Raptors and San Antonio Spurs, respectively, have something to say about that? Using TopBet’s game lines, we find out.
By Dan Favale
The Cleveland Cavaliers basically destroyed the Toronto Raptors in Game 1 without getting a lot of help from their supporting cast. LeBron James exploded, because that's what he does in the playoffs, but he and J.R. Smith were the only players on the team to shoot at least 45 percent from the floor while taking more than one field-goal attempt.
A similar effort from the ancillary devices won't fly in Game 2. Yes, the Cavaliers are the cream of the Eastern Conference's crop. And sure, they led by as many as 25 points in Game 1. They are in firm control of this series.
But the Raptors won't make the same rotation mistakes twice. Don't expect to see Jonas Valanciunas back in the starting lineup. His re-insertion was curious to begin with, given how well the quintet of Kyle Lowry, Serge Ibaka, DeMar DeRozan, DeMarre Carroll and Norman Powell played against the Milwaukee Bucks in the first round. To see him back in the fold, after he posted a minus-21 and didn't define the rebounding battle in Game 1, would be truly shocking.
Things work better for the Raptors when JV is coming off the bench. It allows them to stagger his minutes more with DeMar DeRozan's playing time. You can't afford to have both of them on the floor, at the same time, in the playoffs, given their defensive deficiencies.
Running four-out lineups also makes life a helluva lot easier on Kyle Lowry. His shot isn't falling at the moment, even though he was okay in Game 1. His first inclination is to pass more than usual, and with only one big on the floor, he's able to get into the lane and set up his teammates a lot better. The same logic applies to DeRozan, who not only needs room to distribute, but also to ensure he's making the most of his drives and attempts to reach the foul line.
Even if you don't believe the Raptors will win this game, you should believe it'll be a closer affair than what we saw the first time around. The postseason is about adjustments, and Toronto proved in Game 1 that it will tweak and tinke as it sees fit.
The Pick: Toronto Raptors (+7.5)
The San Antonio Spurs needed to do some self-reflection during their day off in between Games 1 and 2. That's what happens when you suffer a 27-point loss as a 5.5-point favorite.
The Houston Rockets absolutely blasted them, and it wasn't even kind of close. At no point did it look like the Spurs figured anything out. They struggled to defend the pick-and-roll and allowed a ton of wide-open three-point looks. Houston destroyed them to the tune of 22 made triples, outscoring them by 39 points from beyond the arc.
Aspects of this demise will fix themselves. The Spurs will hit a greater percentage of their three-pointers in Game 2. That will make things exponentially easier—and not just from an offensive perspective.
Drilling shots forces the opposition to take the ball out. And that, in turn, allows the Spurs to get their defense set. We're talking about a difference of seconds. Teams aren't as inclined to run after inbounding the ball. It's a different story when they grab a defensive rebound. They can turn right around and hot foot their way up the court.
That's what the Rockets did to the Spurs in Game 1. They scored 27 points in transition, a mark that was helped along by the Spurs shooting just 36.9 percent from the floor.
San Antonio will ultimately have to decide whether to go small against Houston's flurry of shooter's delight lineups, many of which qualify as five-out combinations. But the bigger thing is making more of its own shots. That alone will put the Spurs in a position to win this game.
The Pick: San Antonio Spurs (-5)
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