Sport

NATIONAL BASKETBALL ASSOCIATION (NBA) — Cleveland below par as Celtics, Raptors dominate

BY MARK ARCHER
Contributor

Friday, April 20, 2018

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The National Basketball Association (NBA) play-offs are well underway and basketball fans are already being treated to spectacular displays of skill and determination.

Both the expected and unexpected combine to create an atmosphere where expectations are high, but also with the knowledge that anything can happen. The top-seeded teams have established their dominance except for the Cleveland Cavaliers and Portland Trail Blazers, who started the playoffs looking flat and uninspired.

The Cavaliers, despite heroics from LeBron James and Kevin Love, looked overmatched against the Indiana Pacers who approached the encounter with more intensity on both ends of the floor. The Pacers were able to capitalise in Game 1 on a poor shooting night from the Cavaliers, but shooting guard Victor Oladipo, who came to Indiana in a trade last year, started the series with unparalleled intensity. He scored 32 points (11 of 19 shots with six of nine from three-point territory), but that doesn't begin to tell the story. Even with outstanding performances from LeBron James, this series is shaping up to be torrid for Cleveland.

The Portland Trail Blazers, who went on an impressive 13-game win streak near the end of the regular season, have been unable to get things going against the New Orleans Pelicans and find themselves trailing 0-2 in the series. Portland will now travel to New Orleans with an average away record (21-20) in the regular season and will have it all to do if they have ambitions of getting past the first round.

JustBet $2.00 favourites to win the championship, Golden State Warriors, have been playing inconsistent basketball, especially since Stephen Curry has been sidelined, but they still have enough explosive firepower to overcome a San Antonio Spurs team that has too many 'mature' players in key positions. LaMarcus Aldridge aside, there is no real resistance preventing the Warriors from having their way in this opening series.

The Toronto Raptors continue to overachieve this season with outstanding performances from DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry. The Raptors are already setting team (and personal) records in the play-offs, and after defeating the Washington Wizards on Tuesday night, they are again in a place they have never been before — leading a play-off series 2-0. Despite the return of John Wall to the Wizards line-up, this young Raptors team will continue to apply speed and ferocity during this series, and will most likely end up with a sweep.

The Boston Celtics, minus Kyrie Irving, are dominating on offence and clogging the lanes on defence in their series against the Milwaukee Bucks. The Celtics are 2-0 in the series and likely to face very little resistance on their way to the next round. So too are the JustBet second favourites at $2.50, the Houston Rocket, who look to be carving their way to a sweep against the Minnesota Timberwolves.

The listing of games for this weekend is provided below, and full details of all the betting options and odds are available at the nearest JustBet location or online at www.justbetja.com.

JustBet still offers the best odds and bet options for the NBA and European basketball so place your bets early at one of the over 100 locations on the prediction of your choice for maximum winnings. Additionally, to enhance the betting options, JustBet offers odds on selected player-points spread.

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