Time to take a stand – Raptors Game 2 Preview
The Cleveland Cavaliers look unstoppable.
Maybe it’s Kevin Love?
His game is finally coming together at the stretch four, he’s connecting both from the three and in the post, and is still rebounding exceptionally, particularly on the defensive side.
Maybe it’s Kyrie?
“The bus driver” has been collecting ankles, and knocking down jumpers, all while putting on a clinic in hand speed, regularly getting deflections and steals.
Maybe it’s LeBron James?
Cleveland’s new advanced offence under Tyrone Lue, where the Cavs go small ball, and James is at the four, is flat out scary.
When James sets the screen on a pick and roll, he flies by opposing power forwards resembling Karl Malone with a 4.3 forty.
Ok, it’s all three.
Add that to a struggling, inefficient, herky-jerky Toronto offense, and Cleveland took Game 1 in convincing fashion, 114-84.
Kyrie Irving had 27, Lebron James 24, and Kevin Love finished with 14 totaling 65 points on 68 percent shooting from the floor.
Derozan had 18 points on 19 shots while Kyle Lowry did not do much better, mustering up 10 points on 14 shots.
Bismack Biyombo had 12 points, but only collected four rebounds.
The Raptors as a unit were outrebounded 45-23, and allowed 33 attempts, which translated into 26 points at the free-throw line.
To add injury to insult, the absence of Jonas Valanciunas will continue into Wednesday’s night game as well, with no clear timeline for the big mans return from an ankle sprain.
Valanciunas went down in Game 3 against the Heat and hasn’t been able to return since.
“I saw him walking, so that was positive, he wasn’t sitting,” Raps GM Masai Ujiri told the Canadian Press.
“You wish a guy like that could be playing, because I feel that’s a difference. He would be the best big guy in the game, by far. That would have helped us, but we don’t have that, that’s the nature of the NBA and you move on.”
Despite all the criticism the team has taken, I don’t think it’s wise for us to count out this resilient bunch.
OKC were manhandled by the Spurs in their first game, and then, ultimately, the Thunder went on to win the series.
Even though Russell Westbrook and Kevin Durant are playing like the two legitimate superstars that they are, while Lowry and DeRozan have not, the adage is the same – it’s only one game.
The Raptors have not lost back-to-back games these playoffs, and Coach Casey has been able to motivate his players and correct deficiencies after defeats.
Also factor in the Raptors lack of rest after battling to game seven with the Heat, while Cleveland’s last game was May 8th, and we saw a tired, unfocused bunch in Toronto
Expect more fight, grit and energy tonight from the Raps.