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Eastern Conference Semis
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After what ended up being a super intriguing first round, the NBA playoffs are marching on and has everything you need to get rolling. The two Western Conference semifinals are already underway but seem relatively spoken for. The Warriors spanked the Pelicans in Game 1, and the Rockets did the same to the Rubio-less Jazz on Sunday night. I think both series are intriguing, but we all know how they will end.

As for the action out east, it’s a little more complicated though not by much. Let’s break this down as best we can.

Philadelphia 76ers -385 over Boston Celtics +325

The Boston Celtics just pushed a seven game series with tar, mortar and spit because the Milwaukee Bucks had a great team that didn’t have their act together. The Philadelphia 76ers are a better team that has their act together. Eventually time runs out for these gritty playoff teams that seem to be running on fumes and burning cardboard.

The Sixers improved their season point differential from +4.5 to +10.8 in a five game set while dousing the Miami Heat in a series that really never seemed close. Along the way, the Sixers took everything about their game to the next level.

Having the two best players in the series also helps a ton. These NBA playoffs are about Joel Embiid and Ben Simmons. Just back them as the Celtics get overpriced due to Brad Stevens, and enjoy the Sixers doing their thing. Every bit about their production and swagger seems for real. I just don’t think Boston can keep this duct tape minivan rolling along the highway to hell.

Philadelphia in 5

Game 1 – PHI -3 over BOS (Monday, April 30th)

Cleveland Cavaliers +170 over Toronto Raptors -195

This is not what Toronto wanted. Nothing about their six-game series win over Washington convinced me that Toronto thinks that they’re good. They played that series scared because of the expectation placed on them for being the top seed. It’s like they can feel the window closing, instead of doing everything they can to pry that thing open.

I know that Toronto won the series, but did they seem galvanized to you, because they seemed more relieved than anything else. Now they face the same guy who has sent them walking papers in the past two playoffs in embarrassing fashion.

The difference between Cleveland surviving the Indiana Pacers, and Toronto beating Washington is that I think the former has totally had their confidence boosted while the latter has had their worst fears realized. Toronto knows it’s not a truly elite team, or they would have taken care of business against Washington in Games 3 and/or 4.

DeMar DeRozan has the same sort of game that Oladipo does, but he by no means has the takeover capacity that the Indiana guard showed in the playoffs. Maybe a game here or there, but not the whole way through. And defence has never been a big part of DeMar’s game.

Toronto’s clearly a better team. They’re deeper. They have the pillars underneath that prove problematic for Cleveland. If Sabonis and Turner were more polished, the Pacers would’ve ended the Cavaliers. I don’t know if Jonas Valanciunas is that guy, but he can be.

If you’re sold on Toronto, then go for it. But I’m not. I’m not sold on Cleveland either, but they at least look like a team that’s brazen enough to hold the candle despite all of their shortcomings. Toronto seems like they’re scared of the light in spite of being the best team in the conference. So at +170, the Cavs are the best lotto ticket money can buy.

Hopefully this series is better than we think it is. More likely, it’s exactly what we expect it to be.

Cavaliers in 6

Game 1 – CLE +6 over TOR (Tuesday, May 1st)

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