The last time the Toronto Raptors and Cleveland Cavaliers met, both teams were a lot different than they will be when they meet in Wednesday’s season opener. Head coach Dwayne Casey will no longer be on the sideline. One of Casey’s former assistants, Nick Nurse, is now the head coach. But the changes didn’t stop there.
The team’s leading scorer, DeMar DeRozan, was traded to the San Antonio Spurs. But they got Kawhi Leonard and Danny Green in return. Losing a team leader hurts, but with Leonard and Green in the lineup, the Raptors are going to be a much better defensive team.
Plus, Leonard is capable of scoring as much if not more than DeRozan did. He will likely need some time to regain his shot, but that is to be expected after such a long layoff. In the interim, Kyle Lowry will need to step up his scoring.
As for Cleveland, they are going to be a shell of the team that swept the Raptors in the conference semifinals last year. LeBron James is gone; he’s taken his considerable talents to Los Angeles. What’s left behind is a roster of role players that looked good when they had the best player in the world leading them.
Now, they have Kevin Love.
So—who’s going to win?
Is there really any question? The Raptors will lean on Kyle Lowry as the primary scoring threat while Leonard and Green provide a defensive presence that Toronto fans have never seen. But with Kevin Love the only player worth being concerned with on the Cavs roster, Toronto will not have much if any trouble.
Take the Raptors (-625) to win over the Cavaliers (+400) and cover the spread. As for the over/under, go with the under (213.5).