Cavaliers Turn Up On Raptors to Take 1-0 Lead In East Semis
Flipping the switch has been a mantra for the Cleveland Cavaliers throughout the second half of the season, it appears that switch was flipped in their 116-105 win over the Toronto Raptors last night.
LeBron James led the Cavaliers with 35 points and 10 rebounds on 13/23 shooting, followed by Kyrie Irving who posted 24 points and 10 assists. Posting highlight plays one after another, the Cavaliers entered the fourth quarter with a 20 point lead allowing them to coast to victory. Tristan Thompson was a man amongst boys in the paint, gathering 14 rebounds including 4 on the offensive end. The Cavaliers shot 41 percent from three and got to the free throw line often, shooting 24-29 from the line.
DeMar Derozan who set a career high this season on field goal percentage, would struggle mightily as he was the subject of many Cavalier double teams. Denying Derozan the ball will be key for the Cavaliers throughout the series as he is their primary offensive option.The Raptors were led by Kyle Lowry with 20 points but wasn’t enough. As Derozan will be swarmed throughout the series by the Cavaliers, the Raptors will have to look for additional scoring from Demarre Carroll and midseason acquisitions Serge Ibaka and PJ Tucker. Derozan notched 19 points on 7/16 shooting, logging a minus-32 rating as well, proving to be inefficient against the Cavalier scheme.
Effective defense has not come easy for the Cavaliers this season, as they appeared to substitute offense for defense in their rotation. But last night was a positive sign of things to come although their 20 point lead dwindled to an 11 point victory from the third to fourth quarter. During the regular season, the Cavaliers gave up 111 points per 100 possessions, ranking them 24th in the NBA and are teetering above that average this postseason at 115.5 points per 100 possessions. But offensively, the Cavaliers have elevated their play as well posting 119.8 points per 100 possessions, a 5 point increase from their regular season average. A
Teams led by James are basically unbeatable once they lead 1-0 in a playoff series. Last season the Cavaliers and Raptors traded home stints heading into a pivotal game 5 tied at two wins a piece. Depending on how the Raptors come out in game 2 will define the rest of this series. Ultimately, it’s hard to bet against The King; game 2 Wednesday.