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NBA Playoffs: King James’ Cleveland Cavaliers gallop towards NBA Finals

| 03.05.2016

Robbie Purves | May 3, 2016

Miami Heat @ Toronto Raptors

  • NBA Conference Semi-Finals
  • Wednesday, May 4th
  • Tipoff: 01:00 BST
  • Air Canada Center, Toronto
  • Live on BT Sport 1

Wade to be difference against Canadian Raptors

Less than 48 hours after knocking Indiana Pacers out of the first round, Toronto Raptors will now face Dwayne Wade’s Miami Heat on home-court in game one of their Eastern Conference semi-final.

Orlando Magic v Toronto Raptors - NBA Global Games - O2 Arena

Raptors have won three of their four meetings with Miami during the regular season, including two games in Toronto and look to have shaken the playoff monkey off their backs with the Pacers series triumph.

Toronto managed to keep Paul George quite enough in the first round to sneak themselves into another series but it will face a totally different prospect when Dwayne Wade comes to town. The 13 season veteran leads the playoffs in field goals (56) with Kemba Walker and has restyled his game over recent years to rely less on athleticism and more on creativity and skill.

Wade has been rolling back the years with his fine form, and this, combined with the fact Toronto have only won one opening series game ever, meanS Miami look set to cause an upset away from Florida. Coral have Wade at 4/1 to score 19 points or more in a Heat victory.

Heat are coming of a dramatic 4-3 series win over Charlotte Hornets and will bring that momentum into this clash.

Toronto’s All-Stars are not firing as they did during the regular season. DeMar DeRozan hit just 31 per cent of his attempts against Indiana, needing 19.7 shots to score his poor 17.9 points per game, well below his regular season average.

Portland Trail Blazers @ Golden State Warriors

  • NBA Conference Semi-Finals
  • Wednesday, May 4th
  • Tipoff: 03:30 BST
  • Oracle Arena, Oakland

Warriors double lead to 2-0 as Oakland welcomes Portland

Golden State Warriors are seeking to collect there second consecutive title after becoming the NBA’s greatest ever team, at least in terms of regular season wins.

Suns Warriors Basketball

Last time out Warriors opened up a 1-0 series lead with a 118-106 win over Portland Trail Blazers. Klay Thompson led the scoring with a playoff career high 37 points while Draymond Green registered a second career playoff triple double with 23 points, 13 rebounds and 11 assists.

Steph Curry looks set for a game three return, but with Thompson producing phenomenal numbers there is less rush to hurry the superstar back. Thompson has consistently shown he can be a scoring machine and would be a franchise player if he left Golden State to most clubs around the league.

With Thompson’s seven threes in the first game, he not only became the first player in NBA history to register at least seven three-pointers in three consecutive playoff games, but also overtook Curry’s mark for the most threes made in a three-game postseason span with a superb 21.

Portland will not want to go back to Oregon trailing 2-0 and therefore this places tremendous pressure on stars Damian Lillard and CJ McCollum. Trail Blazers lack any tall, real inside threat that can challenge tough man Andrew Bogut and powerful Green. This means if you shut down Lillard and McCollum you shut down Portland’s offence entirely – as demonstrated by Warriors’ excellent perimeter defence last game.

That being said quality players rarely perform poorly twice on the bounce in the playoffs so expect Portland to be attacking threats.

This clash has all the makings of a point-fest with Thompson eager to continue his fine form in Curry’s absence and Lillard and McCollum determined to ease pressure on the team in game three. The teams are 12/5 to score between 208-218 points.

Atlanta Hawks @ Cleveland Cavaliers

  • NBA Conference Semi-Finals
  • Thursday, May 5th
  • Tipoff: 01:00 BST
  • The Q Arena, Cleveland
  • Live on BT Sport 1

LeBron to drag Cavaliers into Playoff Finals

Atlanta Hawks will look avenge last year’s sweep by the Cleveland Cavaliers in the Eastern Conference Finals.

Cavaliers Spurs Basketball

However, Cavs have won all three matchups this season and eight in succession over Atlanta, including a 93-104 triumph in game one.

Last time out LeBron James scored 25 while Kyrie Irving registered 21, withstanding a late game surge from the Hawks – with James executed a crucial three point play with just two minutes left on the clock that put the game out of sight.

James gave his team nine assists, and notched seven rebounds and five steals. He said: “We played an OK game. I don’t think we played to our standards. The first game is always kind of a feel-out.”

Last year time when these two sides met in the playoffs, Cavs had lost Kevin Love to a shoulder injury for the remainder of the playoffs, Irving went down with an injured kneecap in game one which left LeBron to carry his home-state side through the series. LeBron has the capability to drive a club through the Finals by himself, the fact that Cleveland are now at full strength should have Atlanta worried. The teams are 12/5 to score between 193-203 points and considering the two teams’ regular season average, looks likely.

Irving led the way for Cleveland averaging a series-best 27.5 in the final game of their Detroit Pistons sweep to go along with 4.8 assists. James wasn’t far behind filling an overflowing stat sheet with 22.8 points, 9.0 rebounds and 6.8 assists.

This pair’s production combined with the threat of Kevin Love (if utilised correctly) should be more than enough to see them passed Atlanta. Hawks do possess star talent in Al Horford, Paul Millsap and Jeff Teague are quality players and are look dangerous when three point outlet Kyle Korver is on the court, but this Cleveland side has the ability to overpower the opposition especially on rebounds with both star big men, Horford and Millsap averaging below 10 per game. Horford’s play, particularly on offence, needs to improve if Hawks are to avoid a wing – clipping.


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Robbie Purves