The NBA’s Eastern Conference Finals (ECF) — presented exclusively on ESPN — is set with the Cleveland Cavaliers and LeBron James facing the Toronto Raptors and Kyle Lowry. Action begins tonight at 8:30 p.m. ET and a sampling of ESPN on-air analysts, commentators and insiders offer predictions ahead of the series’ tip-off.
Chris Broussard, NBA Insider: …If Cleveland loses this series, it will be one of the greatest upsets/collapses in modern sports history. Toronto cannot beat Cleveland…That’s no slight on the Raptors. They are simply facing a major talent deficit. Cavs in five.
Brad Daugherty, NBA analyst (former Cavaliers player): Cavs are playing great team ball. Everyone is touching the ball so you can’t key on LeBron anymore. . . This series will be a shoot out! Cavs in six.
Michael Eaves, SportsCenter anchor: With the Raptors finally making the ECF and considered a significant underdog to the Cavs, Toronto should play free and easy. But Cleveland is playing like it’s on a mission, and that mission includes hurting the feelings and breaking the hearts of the Raptors and their fans. Cavs in five.
Amin Elhassan, NBA Front Office Insider: Cavs in five. Cleveland must continue to move the ball as they have been the first two rounds, as this balanced attack has led to a preponderance of 3-point shots. For Toronto, they need solid contributions from their bigs and they need to continue to get to the free-throw line. . .
Mark Jones, NBA play-by-play commentator: Toronto’s advantage in the regular season against Cleveland means absolutely nothing. . . Cleveland wins in five games.
Adrienne Lawrence, legal analyst : Toronto’s coming off a gritty series and has a hot backcourt but even if the Raptors can act like they’ve been there before, the Cavs have full-strength fueled by rest and newfound camaraderie. Cavs in five.
Dave McMenamin, NBA reporter: Cleveland in four. The Cavs are lighting it up from deep this postseason, shooting 46.2 percent on 3s. The Raptors were the second worst team in the league in defending the 3 during the regular season. There’s your series right there.
Sarina Morales, SportsCenter anchor : The Cavs will beat the Raptors in five games because dinosaurs don’t exist, but Lil’ Kev is alive and well.
Dave Pasch, NBA & college sports play-by-play commentator : Toronto needs a lot more than [DeMar] DeRozan and [Kyle] Lowry to make this a series. Cleveland is playing better than anyone right now, plus the Cavs are the healthiest of anyone in the NBA. Cavs in five.
Ramona Shelburne, NBA Insider : I’m rolling with the Cavs in 5. They’ve changed the way they play since Tyronn Lue took over, putting an emphasis on spacing, outside shooting and pace. Toronto has done well to get here, but the Cavs are playing at another level right now.
Marc Stein, NBA Insider : . . . Cavs in five. Let’s see if the Raptors, suddenly playing with all the pressure off, can steal one of the first two games. The Cavs have faced zero adversity so far this postseason. They’re playing their best ball of the season, but we don’t know how they’ll react when they finally get smacked in the mouth.
To read full predictions, please visit ESPN MediaZone.