NBA Playoffs: Cleveland’s LeBron James to shine in series triumph
Robbie Purves | May 27, 2016
Cleveland Cavaliers @ Toronto Raptors
- NBA Conference Finals
- Saturday, May 28th
- Tipoff: 01:30 BST
- Air Canada Centre, Toronto
James to shine in series triumph
The Eastern Conference Finals will head back to Canada as Cleveland Cavaliers look to end the series at Toronto Raptors’ home court.
Cleveland now lead the series 3-2 after a devastating 116-78 win over Toronto in Ohio. The Wine and Gold’s 38-point victory in game five was the largest postseason win in franchise history and their 31-point advantage (65-34) was the largest ever half-time lead.
Raptors looked slow and sluggish and found it impossible to keep up with Cavaliers’ pace. The omens are against Toronto as no team has ever played in three game sevens prior to the NBA Finals and Dwane Casey’s side has played every other day since April 29th – taking part in two playoff series that ran the full course.
The Canadians were weak at the Q Arena with DeMar DeRozan scoring a meagre team high 14 points. They let LeBron James do what he wanted and Cavs just unleashed their firepower, Kevin Love recorded 25 points and Kyrie Irving and James registered 23.
Tyronn Lue will want to open the coming clash looking to deliver the same punch they did in game five – Kevin Love was a big part of that.
Defending him will not fall solely on Luis Scola’s shoulders – Patrick Patterson will factor heavily into their efforts to nullify Love as well. Taking Love’s shots away from him early and making him uncomfortable will need to be a huge part of Toronto’s gameplan.
James will also play a massive role if Cleveland are to double their series lead. The four-time MVP is consistently scoring over 20 points a game and with Raptors likely to open up in search of a series saving win, Coral have James 13/8 to score 28 or more in a Cavaliers win.
Cleveland are allowing a postseason-low 21.1 points in the fourth quarter and shine when the pressure is on. Combine this with Toronto’s tendency to fade in important situations and their stars frequently to sinking into their shell, and you have a recipe for a Cavs series win.
Golden State warriors @ Oklahoma City Thunder
- NBA Conference Finals
- Sunday, May 29th
- Tipoff: 02:00 BST
- Chesapeake Energy Arena, Oklahoma City
Warriors to score big in survival match
Golden State Warriors are still alive after a backs to the wall performance that saved them from a premature playoff exit, at the hands of Oklahoma City Thunder.
The Dubs responded from a game four defeat with a victory on Thursday night, sneaking past Thunder 120-111, to force a game six in the Western Conference finals.
If Warriors are to avoid elimination from the playoffs, they need to find some of their regular season finesse. Steve Kerr’s side saved themselves in game five, but now face a huge task defeating Oklahoma at home.
The teams have averaged 220 points a game over the series are 5/2 to score between 215-225.
Steph Curry has been run ragged by Russell Westbrook this series and the two-time MVP has struggled to find his shooting rhythm. When LeBron is struggling with his shot, he is blessed with ability to defend and rebound at an elite level. But with Curry, if his shot is off he adds very little.
Defence will be paramount in the coming clash, as the two road games Kerr’s men lost, it was by a huge combined 54 points. Oklahoma’s Steven Adams was a big part of OKC’s solidity.
The moustached defensive maestro is a genuine candidate for NBA Finals MVP. Adams has won over a lot of fans with his rugged play and entertaining interviews but is integral to the way Billy Donovan’s men play.
Kiwi Adams marshals the paint and produced many highlight reel plays during the playoffs, including the ball being thrown like an American football.
Thunder’s height and athleticism has given the Dubs issues throughout the series and Kerr now faces the coaching challenge of his career defeating Oklahoma.