Cavaliers vs. Raptors Odds
|Time||7:30 p.m. ET|
|TV||NBA League Pass|
|Odds via BetMGM. Get up-to-the-minute NBA odds here.|
The Cleveland Cavaliers head to Toronto to take on the Raptors in a matchup between two teams fighting for playoff positioning. The Cavaliers have slipped of late, and sit just one game ahead of the Raptors in sixth place.
Does that provide a betting angle for tonight’s contest? Let’s take a look at both sides in this crucial battle in the East.
Cavaliers Losing Their Defensive Identity
The Cavaliers will once again be without their All-Star big man, Jarrett Allen, and have slid Rookie of the Year favorite, Evan Mobley, into the center position full time. Besides Allen, the Cavaliers also will be without both Rajon Rondo (ankle) and Dean Wade (knee) tonight.
The Cavaliers have been a revelation this season. They blew past their preseason win total and have the 10th-best Adjusted Net Rating (+2.6) due in large part to their defense, which ranks fourth, while their offense is just 20th. The lack of offense is concerning, but without Allen, their defense has struggled as well.
Over the past two weeks, the Cavs are scoring 3.2 more points per 100 possessions compared to their full-season numbers; however, compared to the rest of the league they are still below average offensively. The issue is their defense has slipped and they are allowing 10.8 points more per 100 possessions and have the 21st ranked defense over the last two weeks, per Cleaning the Glass.
The Cavaliers just do not have an effective attack right now, they are leaning very heavily on Darius Garland and Evan Mobley while searching for contributions from Caris LeVert and Lauri Markkanen. They are getting roasted on the interior without Allen to help defensively.
As good as Mobley has been this season, it’s clear the Cavaliers’ defense relies on the tandem of Mobley and Allen and they are greater than the sum of its parts.
Will the Raptors Slow Things Down?
The Raptors have listed a few players on the injury report for tonight. Gary Trent Jr. (toe) and OG Anunoby (finger) are both listed as questionable. This is notable considering Anunoby has not played since Feb. 16. He would provide a direct boost to this starting lineup while taking a bit away from Scottie Barnes and Pascal Siakam.
The Raptors are incredibly well-coached, and Nick Nurse has continued to play his starters heavy minutes in each and every game. They have the 13th-best Adjusted Net Rating on the season and they have the 10th-best Adjusted Defensive Rating. This has improved over the last two weeks. Toronto’s defense has climbed to sixth-best in the league over this stretch, per Cleaning the Glass.
The biggest edge in this matchup is Toronto’s transition offense. The Cavalier’s defense has struggled to defend transition attacks while the Raptors are adding the fifth-most points through transition play (3.6). However, this game will likely have a playoff feel, which typically leads to slower-paced games.
These two teams already are fifth and sixth slowest in terms of Pace and they take forever to set up their offenses. As a result, Toronto may not get out in transition as much as they want.
This matchup pits two of the slowest teams in the league against each other. While the Cavaliers’ defense has slipped over the past few weeks it’s because they are missing Jarrett Allen and are getting smoked at the rim — this is not an area that Toronto attacks with much frequency or success due to their lack of any player taller than 6-foot-9 on the roster.
I expect this to be a slower Paced game between two defenses that have been some of the best in the league this season. Even if the Cavaliers struggle to stop Toronto, the Cavaliers should struggle to score themselves. I’m betting against points tonight.
Pick: Under 215