Games on Tuesday, May 2, from 9am.
A COUPLE of huge game one clashes awaits us in NBA action on Tuesday as Round Two of the NBA Playoffs tips off.
Out east, the Cleveland Cavaliers continue their title defence against the Toronto Raptors at 9am AEST, before we head west as the San Antonio Spurs host the Houston Rockets in a good old fashioned Texas rivalry.
Who will win?
We have the answers… hopefully.
Here is our take on the two games and what we think the results will be.
Suggested NBA multi for Tuesday Playoffs:
Cleveland Cavaliers to defeat Toronto Raptors at $1.36
Houston Rockets at the line v San Antonio Spurs +5.5 at $1.95
Toronto Raptors at Cleveland Cavaliers
Our tip: Cleveland Cavaliers to win
The reigning champion Cleveland Cavaliers aren’t exactly playing great basketball, yet they still swept past the Indiana Pacers in the closest 4-0 whitewash in NBA history.
Just 16 points separated the two teams across the four games, which tied the 1975 Golden State Warriors sweep of the Washington Bullets in the 1975 finals.
Yes, the Pacers did play well, but it was much due to lack of effort defensively as it was Indiana’s solid effort that left the Cavaliers scrambling in every game of the series.
In fact, they almost dropped the first game of the series at home and that could have spelled a different story in the end.
But, of course, they made it through, on the back of yet another tour de force from who else but LeBron James.
James scorched the Pacers, stuffing the stat sheet with nearly 33 points per night, to go with just under 10 rebounds, nine assists, three steals and two blocks.
It is playoff James that worries everyone and, while they talk about support cast, with the likes of Kevin Love and Kyrie Irving turning it on on any given night, this team is all about one man.
The Raptors got a scare from the up and coming Milwaukee Bucks, dropping a game on their home floor on their way to a 4-2 series victory.
On paper, the Raptors look a star studded team with the likes of DeRozan, Lowry and Serge Ibaka.
But, when the heat of the playoffs is on, they just don’t quite stack up for some reason.
DeRozan has nights when everything falls, and then comes up with an eight point stinker, like in game three, when he did not make a field goal from eight attempts.
Lowry, too was well held in the series, his points average dropping from over 22 to just 14 and his assist, field goal percentage, three point percentage and free throw percentage all falling.
We’d like to think the Raptors can challenge the Cavs and they might just do that on their home floor, but their 23-18 away record isn’t exactly inspiring and at the end of the day this is the defending champion and Toronto is just not good enough to hang with them.
Expect the Cavs to hold home court.
Houston Rockets at San Antonio Spurs
Our tip: Houston Rockets at the line +5.5
Aside from Houston v Golden State in the western conference finals, this is the match up every one was hoping for.
The two Texas teams going head to head. And they are polar opposites.
The disciplined, share the ball around, big fundamentals of the San Antonio Spurs and their mast coach Gregg Popovic, up against the flair and creativity of the offensive minded Rockets and their run and gun mentor Mike D’Antoni.
Both men are totally different and yet both are in the running for the coach of the year award yet again.
And, while both teams are set up perfectly for their respective systems, this is a league of superstars and two of it’s brightest will be in action.
The series may just come down to which one of Houston’s James Harden or San Antonio’s Kawhi Leonard takes control.
While Oklahoma City’s Russell Westbrook is the presumptive MVP, his nearest challenger Harden is coming off the back of a gentleman’s sweep of the Thunder, 4-1.
And it was the Rockets’ shooting guard cum point man who had a say in almost everything they did, with series averages of 33.2 points, seven assists and just over six rebounds, living at the line with nearly 15 attempts per game – on over 90 per cent shooting.
The Spurs had a tougher time against a plucky Memphis Grizzlies side that always seems to give them problems in the playoffs, eventually advancing with a 4-2 result.
The series went with home court for the first four games but, like Harden, it was Leonard who proved the difference with a dominant performance across the six games that had coach Pop calling him the best player in the league.
Leonard tortured the Grizzlies with a series of clutch shots, menacing on both ends of the floor on the way to 31.2 points, six rebounds and four assists – nearly six points better than his season average.
It’s been an entertaining season series between these two teams, which the Spurs own 3-1, but that doesn’t tell the full tale of the tape.
The Rockets took the first game of the season series on the Spurs’ floor by just two points, before San Antonio claimed the next three – by a total margin of just 10 points.
Take out one game where they won by six and you have three decided by a total of six points.
This series is going to be close people. We think the Spurs, just like the Cavs, can hold their home floor, but it won’t be by much. Take the Rockets at the line.
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