Category Archives: Predictions

Raptors Second Round Playoff Preview

The Toronto Raptors enter tonight’s second round series opener coming off of a solid showing that saw them dispose of the Washington Wizards in 6 games (4-2). It was a series that included a trio of mini two-game winning streaks that the teams traded back and forth, but the Raptors ultimately did their job as the #1 seed and proved they were too much for the #8 seed to handle. DeMar DeRozan was excellent in the series (26.7 PPG), but the performance of Delon Wright stepping up with Fred VanVleet injured and impacting both ends of the floor was a major positive for the Raptors. Most notably, he added 2.7 points per game and 1.3 steals per game on top of his regular season averages, headlined by an 18 point performance on 6/10 shooting in game 5. Now with VanVleet seemingly back to full health after returning in game 6, the Raptors are back to full strength personnel wise with their demons that swept them a season ago staring them directly in the face in round two.

Tale of the Tape

Toronto Raptors

(#1 East)

Team

Cleveland Cavaliers

(#4 East)

59-23

Record

50-32

113.8 (2nd)

Offensive Rating

(Per 100 Possessions)

112.9 (5th)

105.9 (5th)

Defensive Rating

(Per 100 Possessions)

111.9 (29th)

+7.78 (2nd)

Margin of Victory

+0.94 (14th)

57.5% (4th)

True Shooting Percentage

58.4% (3rd)

Projected Starting Lineups

Kyle Lowry

Point Guard

LeBron James

DeMar DeRozan

Shooting Guard

J.R. Smith

O.G. Anunoby

Small Forward

Kyle Korver

Serge Ibaka

Power Forward

Kevin Love

Jonas Valanciunas

Centre

Tristan Thompson

Offense:

Based on regular season statistics, the Raptors and Cavaliers operate offensively in similar fashions. They average a strikingly similar number of possessions per 48 minutes (Raptors 97.4, Cavaliers 98.0) and they both take a large chunk of their shots from beyond the arc (Raptors 37.7 – 5th in NBA, Cavaliers 37.9 – 4th in NBA).

As for an evaluation of the first round, I have zero clue how the Cavaliers managed to scrape by into the second round (other than because of the LeBron James guy). Here’s a look at how the Cavs measured up in some notable statistics compared to the other 16 playoff teams in first round play:

Stat

Rank (out of 16)
Field Goal Percentage 14th
Three Point Percentage 15th
Free Throw Percentage 10th
Rebounding 14th
Assists 15th
Turnovers 12th
Points Per Game 16th

The Raptors ranked higher is every single one of those. A lot of this can be attributed to the fact that the Cavs supporting cast was awful in the first round. Not surprising, because they are awful. LeBron shot 55.3% and the rest of the Cavs shot 38.8%…if anything like that happens again, the Raptors will smack the Cavs.

Edge: Raptors

Defense:

This area is definitively an edge for the Raptors, there isn’t even really a reason to talk about it. The biggest concern for the Raptors though is obviously the question of “Who will slow down LeBron?”. Well, it appears that man will be 20 year old rookie O.G. Anunoby. ESPN came out with an article today with some interesting numbers. Apparently, when Anunoby is the one guarding LeBron the Cavs are scoring 1.09 points per possession. This isn’t remarkable, but the Cavs season average with LeBron on the court is 1.14. The major difference is that when any other Raptors is guarding “the King” , that points per possession jumps to 1.38. Check out the full article here.

This is a big time and a big stage early in the rookie’s career.

The one concern the Raptors should have defensively is with the Cavs three point shooting. While it wasn’t up to their standards in round one, the Cavs were 6th in the NBA in the regular season (37.2%). The Raptors held their opponents to the 10th lowest three point percentage in the league, so they need to play up to their capabilities in that respect.

Edge: Raptors

Star Power:

Nothing against DeMar DeRozan and Kyle Lowry, they are perennial All-Stars, but they are simply not LeBron James. Even though “playoff Lowry” may not be what you think against the Cavs:

The 2017-18 Raptors are all about depth, and the Cavs aside from LeBron are horrible. Yet here they both are in the second round.

Edge: Cavaliers

Bench: If you take away LeBron the Raptors bench probably sweeps the Cavs starters.

Edge: Raptors

I am confident heading into this series that the Raptors will pull this out. I just can’t stress enough how ineffective the supporting cast in Cleveland is and has been. They have rode the back of the GOAT all the way to this point, but I think it ends for them in round two.

The Pacers did the Raptors a favour forcing their series to a seventh game, and in turn, wearing down LeBron just that much more.

If you look at that series as a case study, you would see that the Cavs had trouble containing the Pacers guards of Victor Oladipo and Darren Collison. I take DeRozan and Lowry over those two 1000 out of 1000 times. Add that to the fact that the Cavs clearly had trouble with the length and athleticism of the Pacers, and the Raptors have a much more talented group in that regard. That being said, the Pacers were **+40 in a series that they lost** because of one man and one man only. It’s ridiculous how much influence he has on a game, but this really comes down to the question if the Raptors can beat LeBron James. I think they can over the course of a series. I don’t like the odds of the Raptors closing it out on the road in comparison to at home, so that leaves us with 5 or 7 games as possible scenarios. I think LeBron is great enough to get more than one game for his team, so I think this series goes the distance. 

I’m also 1/1 in my predictions so far, so there’s that:

…these Raptors are the better TEAM and possess more depth and defense than the Wizards, which I think will eventually wear the opposition out. Wall and Beal certainly have the ability to win games if/when they take over, which I think they might for a game or two, but I’m confident that the Raptors will come through and advance past the Wizards.

Prediction: Raptors in 6

For this one, I think the Raptors make the most of the home court advantage they’ve never had against LeBron and punch their ticket back to the Conference Finals.

Prediction: Raptors in 7

Schedule:

Tuesday May 1st @ 8pm in Toronto

Thursday May 3rd @ 6pm in Toronto

Saturday May 5th @ 8:30pm in Cleveland

Monday May 7th @ 8:30pm in Cleveland

Wednesday May 9th TBD in Toronto

Friday May 11th TBD in Cleveland

Sunday May 13th TBD in Toronto

Bench Life Sports: 2018 MLB Predictions

Ahhh, baseball season is upon us once again. With Major League Baseball clubs opening up their season’s this past Thursday, those of us on the bench figured it was time to dust off our crystal ball (or dartboard) and fire away with a blog packed full of a variety of our predictions for the upcoming season. What follows is a collection of our picks for division winners, World Series champions and a variety of individual awards. Each of which can all very easily be used as ammunition to completely dismantle our credibility for being completely off in about 7 months time. So without further ado, our 2018 MLB predictions: Read more

Rolling Rock (Unofficially) Presents: The 2017 Bench Life Stanley Cup Prediction Battle

 

The Bench Life team are taking the gloves off for a winner-take-all prediction battle to prove once and for all (at least for now) who is most in tune with playoff hockey. Winner of the challenge gets a case of ice cold Rolling Rock beer paid for by the losers. Whoever finishes dead last will get punished in some sort of humiliating way, so stay tuned for whatever that ends up being. I had envisioned some sort of tie Goldberg to the net situation but that could potentially be too harmful. This is a classic TBD situation.

Without further ado, here are the categories for the challenge with each of our various picks.

Read more

Stanley Cup Finals Preview and Prediction

Another round of the NHL Playoffs has come to an end, and we’re left with only two teams. In the Western Conference, the underdog Nashville Predators have been the surprise of the playoffs this year, taking down Chicago, St. Louis and Anaheim on their path to the Finals. From the Eastern Conference, the Pittsburgh Penguins are looking to be the first back-to-back Stanley Cup Champions since the Red Wings repeated in 1997 & 1998. They beat out Columbus, Washington and Ottawa en route to their shot at the Cup. With Game 1 set for tonight, let’s take a look at the series and I’ll tell you why the Predators are going to stun the defending champs. Read more

NHL Conference Finals Preview and Predictions

On Wednesday night, the second round of the NHL playoffs came to an end in one of the most exciting ways possible: not one, but TWO Game 7’s.

First, the Penguins went into Washington and shutout the Capitals on their way to another series win for Crosby over Ovechkin. After coming back from a 3-1 series deficit to tie the series at 3, the Capitals looked to head back to the Verizon Center and complete the comeback. Honestly, I was really looking forward to all the “Pittsburgh blew a 3-1 lead” jokes. And for the sake of my bracket, I was hoping that Washington would move on. However, the Penguins decided they didn’t want to be added to the list of teams to have blown a massive lead in the last year or so. Washington struggled to generate offense, Ovechkin was quiet and Marc-Andre Fleury was playing like it’s 2009, making 29 saves. Pittsburgh advanced with a 2-0 win, and will look to get ready to take on the Senators.

The second game of the night featured the young, up and coming Oilers against the older and experienced Ducks. After putting up 7 goals in Game 6, Edmonton looked to be in control of the series heading into the final game. But it turns out they should’ve saved some of those goals, because they could’ve used them in Game 7. After scoring early in the game, the Oilers offense was held in check, being held to just 3 shots in the 2nd period and 8 shots in the 3rd. Andrew Coglianio tied the game in the 2nd, Nick Ritchie scored the game winner a few minutes into the final period, and the Ducks managed to hold on for the win and will move on to play the Predators. Read more

2017 NHL Prediction Battle

Embed from Getty Images

For this 2016-17 NHL season my brother Phillip and I made a list of predictions of potential outcomes that we feel strongly about. We plan to assign points for each correct guess and the winner will get… something. We were initially going to say that the loser will buy the winner a brand new Leafs jersey, but then we realized that we are both broke. If you have any suggestions for a reward/punishment for winning/losing this challenge comment below. Some of these predictions are, dare I say, insightful. Others, I’m not going to sugar coat it, are idiotic. My picks will be marked by TW and my brother’s as PW. If anyone cares about this stuff comment below with any opinions on our picks or even comment your own picks.

Standing Predictions

(5 points for each correct guess)

Atlantic Division
TW: Tampa Bay Lightning
PW: Tampa Bay Lightning
This is an exciting start!

Metropolitan Division
TW: Washington Capitals
PW: Philadelphia Flyers
Whoomp there it is. I guess the Flyers have some scoring touch, a young blue line with a high ceiling and Steve Mason. Giddy up.
Read more

Eastern Conference Finals Primer: Raptors vs. Cavaliers

Schedule


Game 1: Tuesday May 17; 8:30 @ Cleveland on Sportsnet
Game 2: Thursday May 19; 8:30 @ Cleveland on TSN
Game 3: Saturday May 21; 8:30 @ Toronto on Sportsnet
Game 4: Monday May 23; 8:30 @ Toronto on TSN
Game 5: Wednesday May 25; 8:30 @ Cleveland on TBD
Game 6: Friday May 27; 8:30 @Toronto on TBD
Game 7: Sunday May 29; 8:30 @ Cleveland on TBD

X Factors


While my brother and I watched the first round series versus Indiana, we were discussing which players were the “X-Factors” in the series. The conversation then turned into us mocking stereotypical basketball commentary by calling every player on either team’s roster an “X-Factor”. Kyle Lowry? X-Factor. Paul George? X-Factor. Miles Turner? X-Factor. James Johnson? X-Factor (#FreeJamesJohnson (Why do some Raptors fans feel the need to tweet this?)). Ty Lawson? You better believe he’s an X-Factor (also the MVP at every dispensary he frequents). Bruno Caboclo? He could be the difference. But despite the term “X-Factor” being a tired trope, I’m going to use it as a talking point to bring up themes, strategies, and key figures that have the potential to effect the series. Read more

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