<
>

Cavaliers, Raptors have sights set on title

The Cavaliers and Raptors know their first-round opponents and look to begin the march toward the NBA Finals. John E. Sokolowski/USA TODAY Sports

Tuesday night’s outcomes set in place the first-round opponents for both the Cleveland Cavaliers and Toronto Raptors. The Cavaliers will open with the Detroit Pistons, and the Raptors will open with the Indiana Pacers. According to ESPN’s Basketball Power Index, the Cavaliers have the best odds in the Eastern Conference to reach the NBA Finals (47 percent), and the Raptors are second with a 20 percent chance.

Cleveland meets a familiar foe

The Cavaliers have faced the Pistons three times in the postseason, with Cleveland coming out victorious in two of those meetings. LeBron James is undefeated in the first round in his NBA career, going a perfect 10-0. According to BPI, the series is likely to be over quickly, as the Cavaliers have a 52 percent chance to clinch the series before Game 6.

James’ teams have won 13 straight first-round games, winning by sweep in each of the past three postseasons. The last loss for a James team in the first round was Game 4 of the 2012 playoffs, when the Knicks beat the Heat by two points.

The Pistons are in the playoffs for the first time since 2008-09, when they were swept in the first round by James’ Cavaliers. Detroit won two of the three meetings between the teams this season, but the teams split when James, Kyrie Irving and Kevin Love all played.

Raptors meet Pacers

The Raptors and Pacers have never met in the postseason. In the regular season, Toronto won three of four meetings, holding the Pacers below 100 points in all three wins.

The Raptors have had difficulty in the playoffs, losing in the first round in each of their past five postseason appearances. When they are the higher seed in a playoff series, they haven't won, as noted in the chart on the right.

Though the Raptors have performed poorly, history still suggests they are a heavy favorite over the Pacers. No. 7 seeds are 5-59 all time in the first round, with the last win being the Spurs over the Mavericks in 2010. According to BPI, the Raptors have a 72 percent chance to get out of the first round.