Who doesn't love a good 7-furlong slugfest between topnotch horses? That's exactly what the Breeders' Cup Filly & Mare Sprint provides in addition to returning some generous prices such as 2017 winner Bar of Gold's $135.40 payout for every $2 wagered. I'm not sure we can catch that kind of lightening in a bottle this year, but the future bets do look juicy.
NBA Picks: Cavaliers vs Raptors Odds, Prediction and Live Score
Toronto and Cleveland met surprisingly little resistance during their openers against the Pistons and the Knicks, with LeBron dropping a triple double and DeRozan pouring in forty on 17-27 shooting from the field. Both games were over before the fourth started, allowing starters to catch a nap on the bench. The Raptors and the Cavaliers were third and fourth in the NBA in terms of points allowed per game, which suggests that the first meeting between these eastern conference contenders will be a defensive affair.
Cleveland Cavaliers vs Toronto Raptors
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While Cleveland did avoid an early season disappointment similar to the slow start of the 2015-16 season, the Cavaliers still require a few months to rev their engine into top gear. This provides a bit of an opening for teams like the Raptors, who are capable of running any non-motivated NBA team off the court. If the Cavs don’t play with the required intensity, the Raptors and their home court crowd will sniff blood and feast.
The Raptors remain underrated, or at least underappreciated, in the eyes of NBA observers and sportsbooks. DeMar’s playing with a chip on his shoulder after being named the 46th best player in the NBA, while Kyle Lowry’s gunning for a big payday, confirming that he’ll opt out of his current contract at the end of the year. Toronto’s all-star backcourt will be driven more than ever to excel throughout the season, motivated by last season’s historic results and perceived slights against the quality of their ball.
The biggest bellwether of success for the Raptors will be Jonas Valanciunas, who started the season by playing the same type of dominating big man ball that excited fans during the playoffs and propelled the Raps into the conference finals. After scoring 32 and pulling down 14 rebounds against All-Star Andre Drummond, he appears ready to take the next step into stardom. The Raptors winning percentage rises dramatically when Jonas earns a double double, and the Lithuanian big man could average a double double this season for the first time in his career.
Expect both teams to focus on defence for this matchup, with Jonas Valanciunas and his confident new ‘do running the Cavs roughshod in the paint. Cleveland doesn’t have anyone who can contain the blend of size, quickness and touch, which should be the difference in this close matchup.
NBA Picks Tonight
A team that employs LeBron James is once again the favourite to represent the eastern conference at the NBA Finals. Anything less would be considered a shock and disappointment for the Cleveland franchise, who want to make the most out of LeBron while he’s still close to peak performance. Fortunately for Cleveland, Kyrie Irving appears ready to carry a larger portion of the responsibility, preserving LeBron for the near-inevitable clash with the Warriors or the Spurs in the Finals. The Raptors know that Lowry and DeRozan will remain in their prime for a few more years, hoping to build off the franchise’s first real playoff run during the 2015-16 season.
GM Masai Ujiri has made a series of smart basketball gambits to support the growth of the Raps without sacrificing the future of the team. The only problem the Raps face is the potential of Jared Sullinger’s foot not healing right after his procedure, which would greatly impact the Raptors depth at the power forward position. For the time being, Pascal Siakam should contribute sufficient defence and hustle to compensate until Sullinger heals.
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