Game 1: Wednesday, May 18, 2016, 10.30am AEST
Game 2: Friday, May 20, 2016, 10.30am AEST
Game 3: Sunday, May 22, 2016, 10.30am AEST
Game 4: Tuesday, May 24, 2016, 10.30am AEST
Game 5 (if required): Thursday, May 26, 2016, 10.30am AEST
Game 6 (if required): Saturday, May 28, 2016, 10.30am AEST
Game 7 (if required): Monday, May 30, 2016, 10.30am AEST
Cleveland Cavaliers: $1.09 with Sportsbet.com.au
Toronto Raptors: $8 with Sportsbet.com.au
Game one head-to-head odds
Cleveland Cavaliers: $1.14 with Sportsbet.com.au
Toronto Raptors: $6.40 with Sportsbet.com.au
Line betting odds
Cleveland Cavaliers: -10.5 ($1.92 with sportsbet.com.au)
Toronto Raptors: +10.5 ($1.92 with sportsbet.com.au)
“FO, fo, fo”
Those will be familiar words to those who know their NBA.
Moses Malone’s 1983 Philadelphia 76ers almost fulfilled his prophecy of going through the playoffs undefeated, losing just the one game on their way to the title – forcing him to amend his predictions to “Fo, fi, fo” (they had a bye in the first round due to winning the Atlantic Divisions title).
By “fo” he means four, as in four-nil sweeps in the series.
Lebron James and his Cleveland Cavaliers have a chance to complete Malone’s prophecy, having absolutely annihilated the Detroit Pistons, 4-0 in the first round and then repeated the dose on the disappointing Atlanta Hawks in the Eastern Conference semi finals on their way to a sweep of the series.
While James is nowhere near the goon that Malone was, he is perhaps more talented and his side has had a very, very easy run to the conference finals.
By the time they take to the court against the Raptors tomorrow, it will have been 10 days since they vanquished the Hawks.
Not a bad break if you can get it.
Meanwhile, it took absolutely every thing for the Raptors to get out of the first round, thanks to mighty Paul George and the Indiana Pacers pushing them to seven games in the first round.
And then the Miami Heat repeated the dose, providing stiff competition in another series that went the distance, the Raps prevailing once again in game seven.
So the Raptors have played 14 playoff games, while the Cavs have played eight.
Stars rested and relaxed, niggled ironed out, it is hard to see the Raps even taking one game off the Cavs.
James is obviously the man the Raptors need to stop if they are to be any hope here.
He cruised through the season and still dropped 25.3 points, 7.4 rebounds and 6.8 assists each night, and he hasn’t had to increase that output in the playoffs, weaker competition meaning he only has to put out under 24 points per night.
But he faces his stiffest competition and you can expect him to take over if the Raps end up challenging him.
He has some pretty good foils.
Point guard Kyrie Irving has taken over the scoring load, increasing his output by nearly five points per night, averaging 24.4 per night to go with 5.5 assists, while big stretch four Kevin Love has also upped his contribution with 18.9 points and a gaudy 12.5 boards per night, well up on his season averages.
All that bodes for a big three that is going to be very hard to stop, ably assisted by JR Smith, who is absolutely cooking from the outside, averaging nearly four per game at over 50 per cent.
There are three key men for the Raptors. Their back court of Kyle Lowry and DeMar DeRozan has been among the best in the regular season, but has struggled to find consistency in the playoffs, leading to their struggles.
With starting big man Jonas Valanciunas ruled out for the rest of the playoffs with an ankle injury, big Bismarck Biyombo has played himself into someone throwing some big money at him with three huge games against the Heat.
And he will be a key again against a Cavs side that sometimes struggles to defend the monsters.
He’s big, athletic and plays both ends of the floor.
Maybe the legend Michael Jordan was right when he drafted the big Congolese to the Charlotte Hornets as a youth.
What it all adds up to is a lopsided series, with a four time MVP and two time champion leading his side against a team that has never made it this far in the playoffs.
Kudos to the Raptors for getting this far – hey, the Los Angeles Clippers never have – but this is the end of the road. It will be valuable playoff experience for this group and will hold them in good stead for next season – provided DeRozan doesn’t end up wearing purple and gold.
Series winner: Cleveland Cavaliers ($1.09 with sportsbet.com.au)
Series correct score: Cleveland Cavaliers 4-0 ($2.99 with Sportsbet.com.au)
Series top point scorer: Lebron James ($2.50 with sportsbet.com.au)
Game one winner: Cleveland Cavaliers ($1.14 with sportsbet.com.au)
Game one line: Cleveland Cavaliers -10.5 ($1.92 with sportsbet.com.au)
Game one total match score: Under 202.5 ($1.92 with sportsbet.com.au)
It’s hard to see the Raptors winning a game in this series and you certainly wouldn’t expect them to be able to take one on the Cavaliers’ home court. We’re predicting a double digit win for the Cavs in game one, on the way to a 4-0 series sweep. As we mentioned, Lebron has just been cruising. It’s time for him to put his big boots on and take over. We reckon the $2.50 is money for jam about him being the top scorer in the series. These two teams played three times on the season, with the Raptors actually winning two of them, but that was then and this is now. Playoff basketball is a whole new kettle of fish. “Fo, Fo, Fo, ???”