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Raptors Continue Push for Play-In

Toronto Faces Fading Cleveland

The Cleveland Cavaliers try to snap a two-game losing streak when they visit the Toronto Raptors on Monday night in a key Eastern Conference contest. Tip-off is set for 7:30 p.m. ET at Amalie Arena in Tampa, Fla., the Raptors’ home for this season.

Cleveland has dropped five of its last six games and is fading fast in its chances for making the play-in tournament for the Eastern Conference. The Cavaliers are 21-39 and six games behind the Washington Wizards, who are in 10th in the East standings.

Kevin Love of the Cleveland Cavaliers shoots the ball over Aron Baynes of the Toronto Raptors at Rocket Mortgage FieldHouse
Lauren Bacho/Getty Images/AFP

The Raptors are tied with the Chicago Bulls at 25-35 and two games behind Washington. The seventh- through 10th-place teams in the standings will participate in the play-in tournament at the end of the season to determine the final two playoff spots in the conference.

The NBA odds for this one have the Raptors as 11-point favorites, with the over/under set at 214.

Building for Future

The Cavaliers don’t really have a shot at the postseason or competing once they get there, but in the team’s first year under coach J.B. Bickerstaff, just building for the future is the goal. Cleveland has shown glimpses of potential, but it hasn’t come consistently.

The availability of leading scorer Collin Sexton is in question, as he sat out Sunday due to the league’s concussion protocol. Sexton, averaging 24.5 points in his third NBA season, is expected to miss several games so he shouldn’t be counted on to suit up on Monday.

Guard Darius Garland will have to take on more of the offensive responsibilities while Sexton is out. The second-year man is the Cavaliers’ second-leading scorer at 17.8 points per game while dishing out a team-high 6.1 assists and making 2.1 steals per contest. He’s coming off 28 points and nine assists in Sunday’s loss.

Forward Kevin Love has been getting regular playing time of late and producing his usual solid numbers. Love is averaging 13.6 points and 7.4 rebounds in April, his first month of regular appearances after two stints on the injured list.

Fighting Back

This looked like the season that the Raptors took a major step back and missed the postseason. Toronto has fallen quite a bit after winning the NBA championship in 2019 but it is trying to at least make the postseason again.

Forward Pascal Siakam is leading the team in both scoring (21.0 points) and rebounding (7.2). He’s averaged 25.6 points, 8.2 rebounds and 6.0 assists over the last four games.

The guard combo of Fred VanVleet and Kyle Lowry is still potent, as they average 19.6 and 16.7 points, respectively. Lowry is dishing out a team-best 7.2 assists per game to go with 5.5 rebounds, while VanVleet is averaging 6.2 assists and 4.1 rebounds.

The biggest weakness for the Raptors has been on the interior, where they rank 29th in the league with just 41.5 rebounds per game. Cleveland isn’t much better at 42.5 per game, but Love’s presence has certainly helped the Cavaliers and could be trouble for Toronto.

Raptors Eke Out Win

Neither of these teams has been consistent so it’s hard to know what to expect in this one. Not having Sexton is going to be a problem for the Cavaliers, though Garland has shown he can play the lead role well.

This one should be close throughout, which is why the 11-point spread seems a bit big. When doing your NBA betting, take the 11 points and go with the Cavaliers to be competitive in this one.

Pick: Cleveland Cavaliers +11 points

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