Cavaliers vs Raptors Picks and Predictions: Cavs Handle Road Business

Toronto hosts a crucial battle for East playoff seeding tonight as Cleveland rolls into town. But while the Cavaliers are hobbled, it's tough to trust the Raptors against this spread, especially with Lauri Markkanen lurking on the perimeter.

Andrew Caley - Senior Betting Analyst at
Andrew Caley • Senior Betting Analyst
Mar 24, 2022 • 16:47 ET • 3 min read
Lauri Markkanen Cleveland Cavaliers NBA
Photo By - USA TODAY Sports

The Toronto Raptors host the Cleveland Cavaliers on Thursday night, in a game with plenty of implications when it comes to seeding in the Eastern Conference.

The Cavs currently hold the sixth spot in the East, sitting just one game ahead of the Raps, with the difference being facing the play-in tournament or going straight to a playoff matchup. Cleveland has had Toronto’s number this season — can the Raps not only bounce back but cover as favorites in this important matchup?

Find out in our free NBA picks and predictions for Cavaliers vs. Raptors on March 24.

Cavaliers vs Raptors odds

This odds widget represents the best odds available for each betting market from regulated sportsbooks.

The Raptors opened this Eastern Conference clash as 4-point home favorites but were quickly faded to 3.5. However, since then, it has been mostly Raptors money coming in, moving the line all the way to 5. The total hasn’t seen as much action since hitting the board. It opened at 214.5 and sits at 215 as of Thursday afternoon.

Use the live odds widget above to track any future line movements right until tip-off and be sure to check out the full NBA odds before betting to ensure you get the best number.

Cavaliers vs Raptors predictions

Predictions made on 3/24/2022 at 3:30 p.m. ET.
Click on each prediction to jump to the full analysis.

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Cavaliers vs Raptors game info

Location: Scotiabank Arena, Toronto, ON
Date: Thursday, March 24, 2022
Tip-off: 7:30 p.m. ET
TV: Bally Sports Ohio-Cleveland, Sportsnet 1

Cavaliers vs Raptors betting preview

Key injuries

Cavaliers: Jarrett Allen C (Out).
Raptors: Gary Trent Jr. SG (Questionable), OG Anunoby SF (Questionable).
Find our latest NBA injury reports.

Betting trend to know

The Raptors are 0-5 ATS in their last five games as a home favorite. Find more NBA betting trends for Cavaliers vs. Raptors.

Cavaliers vs Raptors picks and predictions

Our side and total predictions are based upon our analysis of the line and total in this game. Our best bet is our favorite pick across all markets.

Spread analysis

With roughly 10 games left in the regular season, this is a huge matchup for Eastern Conference playoff implications. The Cavaliers currently sit in the sixth spot in the East, leading the Raptors by one game.

That’s important because the six-seed guarantees you a spot in the playoffs, while seventh means an appearance in the play-in tournament, and likely an opening game against Kevin Durant and the Brooklyn Nets. 

The Raptors come into this game after an interesting week. They had disappointing performances against the Lakers and Bulls sandwiching a gritty, low-scoring win over the 76ers. Despite that, the Raps have been better at putting together complete performances and rank ninth in net rating over the last 10 games.

It sounds like the Raptors could also be getting some reinforcements: Fred VanVleet is finally not on the injury report while Gary Trent Jr. and OG Anunoby are listed as questionable.

Meanwhile, the Cavs are facing some adversity at the worst possible time. The last time these teams met back on March 6, they pulled out a 104-96 win but lost All-Star center Jarrett Allen to a broken finger in the process.

Since then, the Cavs are 4-4 straight up and 2-5-1 ATS, and without Allen, their defense has taken quite a hit, dropping to 24th in defensive rating over that span. But luckily the offense has stepped up, as Evan Mobley, Darius Garland and Lauri Markkanen have played well in Allen’s absence. 

Even though the Raptors are favored and getting back close to full health, this matchup just feels too close to be laying this many points with them — particularly when considering the importance of this matchup and realizing the Raps are 0-5 ATS in their last five games at home. 

Prediction: Cavaliers +5.5 (-110)

Over/Under analysis

While the side of this matchup feels close to a toss-up, the total might be the safer bet. Now, the Under is 2-1 in three meetings this season, but the one game that went Over was one in which the Raptors were dealing with a COVID outbreak and were missing basically their Top 7 players. The other two games saw an average of 201.5 total points scored. So, 215 seems a touch high.

The Raptors have mostly played well since that last meeting with the Cavaliers, going 6-2 SU, but they still rank 27th in effective field goal percentage, putting up a middle-of-the-pack 111.9 points per game. So, even though they are facing a Cavs defense that has taken a bit of a step back of late, it’s not like the Raps are suddenly going to put up a ton of points.

As for the Cavaliers, their offense has picked up the slack from the defense, but outside of Mobley, they don’t match up well against the Raptors, who rank eighth in defensive rating over their last eight games and allow the fewest points per game to opposing guards. 

Combine that with the fact the Cavaliers and Raptors rank 25th and 26th, respectively, when it comes to pace of play and this one feels like another low-scoring defensive battle.

Prediction: Under 215 (-110)

Best bet

For starters, we really like the Under when you add in the importance of tonight’s game, which should bring an added intensity. So, that makes our best bets but there's another market we love as well.

Mobley isn’t the only Cavs player who has stepped up in Jarrett Allen’s absence — so too has Lauri Markkanen. The Cavs’ stretch-four is averaging 18.1 points per game in the eight games since Allen got hurt, well up from his season average of 14.4.

He's done that by letting it fly from deep. Markkanen has taken 7.6 threes per game, compared to the 5.9 he was taking when sharing the floor with Allen, and is hitting them at a 37.7% clip.

In that same stretch, he has hit three or more threes four times, including hitting four against the Raptors back on March 6.

Now, Toronto does play some great defense, but its aggressive style is full of switches and double teams, which can leave players alone in the corners for open threes at times. As a result, the Raps rank 19th in opponent 3-point shooting percentage.

Pick: Under 215 (-110)

Pick: Lauri Markkanen Over 2.5 made threes (+140)

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