Cavaliers vs Raptors Preview and Free Pick [12/5/2016]

Cleveland (13-5) at Toronto (14-6)
When: Monday, December 5th 2016
Where: Air Canada Centre, Toronto, Ontario
Time: 7:30 ET | TV: FSN Ohio, TSN2

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The Cleveland Cavaliers will try and right the ship when they go up against the Toronto Raptors on Monday night in another rematch of last year’s Eastern Conference Finals. Cleveland has dropped three straight contests including embarrassing losses to Milwaukee and the L.A. Clippers. The Cavs fell 111-105 in Chicago Friday night to start a three-game road trip that concludes in New York on Wednesday. Cleveland point guard Kyrie Irving, who averaged 24.4 points in the series win over Toronto last spring, isn’t too worried about the recent skid. “We don’t want to drop three in a row, but it’s happened,” Irving told reporters. “And now we figure out where we can get better, things that we need to correct and we move forward. Irving has scored 20 or more points in each of the last nine games. J.R. Smith has had some blame recently with his 17.5% shooting in the last five games. LeBron James has scored below his 23.3 point average in three of the last five games. Cleveland’s lead over Chicago in the Central Division has slipped to 2.5 games.


The Raptors are riding an impressive six-game winning streak in which they have now caught the Cavaliers for the top spot in the Eastern Conference. They are coming off one of their best outings ever – a 128-84 triumph over the Atlanta Hawks on Saturday. The Raptors are winning by an average of 23 points over the last six games and will be trying to avenge a 121-117 loss at Cleveland on November 15th. Saturday’s 44-point route marked a franchise record for margin of victory and featured eight different players scoring in double figures including four guys off the bench. Toronto shot 57.6% from the field and went 13-of-24 from beyond the arc in the win. Center Jonas Valanciunas was the only starter not to score in double figures on Saturday and has totaled just 14 points in his last three games. Toronto’s offense now ranks 3rd in points (110.8), 2nd in field goal percentage (48.0), 2nd in 3-point percentage (38.9), and 2nd in free-throw percentage (81.3).

It’s not many times you have Cleveland as an underdog, but I can see the rationale by the oddsmakers. Cleveland has lost three-straight and Toronto has won six in a row. The Cavs will step it up here as the Raptors will be playing a little tighter against the one team standing in their way from getting to the Finals.

Pick: Cavaliers +1.5